Food For Thought Friday: Relaxed is Who You Are

Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are.  ~Chinese Proverb

I came across this quote a few years ago and I haven’t been able to forget it.  I first read it at a time when presenting stress management programs was new for me.  I received good feedback from participants, but I never felt completely satisfied.

After reading this quote, I immediately recognized the disconnect. When I presented I acted as I thought I “should” (professional, corporate) rather than who I really am – (more relaxed, casual). Once I recognized that difference I made a conscious effort to become more relaxed as a presenter.

Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are.

In a day and age where being “authentic” is all the rage, this proverb speaks volumes about what that really means.  If you want to be “you”, relax!

When I’m tense I am:

  • Easily frustrated and irritated
  • Short tempered
  • Defensive
  • Sometimes withdrawn
  • Not very likable

When I’m relaxed I am

  • Compassionate and open-minded
  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Action oriented

When I’m relaxed I feel good.  I am confident, happy and satisfied.  When I’m tense I constantly seek change.

Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are.

Awareness is the first step to becoming more relaxed in your life.  And by relaxed it’s not about being lazy.  It’s about letting go of tension, appreciating each moment, or finding the tools you need to cope effectively with various situations.

A great way to feel more relaxed is to use the guided relaxation exercise I posted earlier this week.  Or find an activity you enjoy doing, that takes your mind off things and truly lets you be you.  You know you’re there because you fail to think of anything else!  A few minutes is all you need to restore your original settings and be who you really are.

Do you know who you are when you’re relaxed?

Do you know who you are when you are tense?

Which one feels better?

Have a great weekend!

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  • Chris Edgar

    Hi Stacey — I like that way of putting it — I can get how that would create tension for us to be thinking we should be different from how we are, or that things should be different. When we let go of those shoulds, the parts of the body that are trying to push or pull in some direction naturally relax, it seems to me.

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Hi Stacey,
    When tense, I’m fearful, doubtful, bitchy. When relaxed I’m fun, happy, confident. This was a good exercise. I’ve never looked at it this way before.

  • Stacey Shipman

    Hi Chris – Exactly – I think it’s the “shoulds” that create tension, because “Should” may not align with what we really believe and value.

    Hi Tess – We sound much the same :-) When I first saw this quote I had never looked at it that way before either, but it made so much sense. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Hilary

    Hi Stacey .. there’s no way I could have got through the last few weeks if I was not relaxed .. even though I should have been rigid with fear .. so much was going on .. I never said a cross word .. and have dealt with a lot of negative, unhelpful family (understatement), mother in hospital – not once but twice .. and I moved house .. with nowhere to go .. so sorting that out now .. life is interesting – but I coped by not being cross or upset with anything .. other than my brother refusing take my mother to hospital & leaving me to do it – when he knew I was moving out of my house.

    I’m fine – pretty tired .. but fine! So in a slightly different aspect .. I fit the bill and coped in a different way .. once I’ve had a few sleeps!!! I’ll be as right as rain ..Mum coming out of hospital tomorrow I hope.

    Thanks – must pop over to your relaxation exercise .. Hilary

  • Karl Staib – Work Happy Now

    The relaxed me always feels better. The problem is I tell myself this, but I go right back to feeling tense. To get to the heart of my issue I’ve been doing more meditating and Yoga, which has helped. The big thing I feel like I need to do is bring more awareness to my thoughts and feelings on a more regular basis. I think this will help me notice my tension, so I can take a minute to relax.

  • Stacey Shipman

    Hi Hilary – Sounds like you handled stressful situations with grace. That is so hard to do, especially when, as you say, fear could have taken over. Thank you for stopping by and sharing, good to hear from you. I hope all is ok on your end and hope your mother did come out of the hospital. Have a good weekend.

    Karl – Awareness is definitely the key. It’s not that we’ll get rid of the tension, but you can notice it and do something about it when it arises.

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