learning to relax

For years, people have been telling me to relax. Not casually but seriously, that my inability to chill out would have negative consequences. And sometimes, they were right.

But it was not ever helpful when someone would tell me to “just relax” or some version of that as if I could do it on command–not for lack of trying though either. And after a while, it made me feel abnormal.

There was a brief time after moving to the East coast that people would ask me how I stay relaxed in the face of so many potential stressors. Magically, I had become Mr. Frosty. Or maybe the East coast really is just comparatively uptight. Either way, I enjoyed it even if it didn’t last long.

Recently, I was told not to “over think” a task I was practicing. Aside from being annoying, it was yet another reminder that my head gets in the way of my pursuits. In The Inner Game of Tennis, a classic sports psychology book, Timothy Gallwey describes the problem as a conflict between an individual’s Self 1 (what he calls the “ego-mind” or one’s inner coach) and Self 2 (the body or the part of the person executing the action). The goal is to quiet that inner voice, focus on the essential tasks, and calmly let things happen–what most athletes would call “being in the zone.”

I’m terrible at doing that. To some, I may sometimes appear carefree, and I probably am once in a while. But those moments are far and few between (or are mere bravado). Even writing on a site that I’ve declared a safe zone for my thoughts can be difficult, which is probably why I haven’t published things in a while.

It’s led me to believe that I need to take a different approach, and ironically, try to be more intentional about it. How exactly? I’m not sure. I have some ideas. But maybe it begins by regularly posting again without worrying about whether it’s perfect.

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