How To Stop Struggling

How To Stop StrugglingWhat is your biggest fear? I have a few, mainly having to do with my kids, my husband and loss. I used to work myself into a real panic attack at times, until I learned a really great method on how to control my thoughts.

Control is something I’m good at. When people tell me I’m a control freak they don’t understand the depth of it. I like to be in charge. I like picking the restaurant, having people over to MY house, a good Cabernet—not a Malbec or a Pinot Noir, thank you very much. I like things to be my way or the highway, as they say. But there’s something I try to control that really can’t be controlled, and that is my thoughts. Those damn things pop up all the time, and most of the time I don’t like them very much. They’re judgey, annoyed, sensitive little things, and they make me feel judgey, annoyed and sensitive. I was always trying to get rid of them, and then one day I had a dream.

It’s a dream I’ve had many times. I’m sleeping, and I know I’m sleeping, and my comforter is over my head. I can’t breathe. I desperately want to yank the comforter off, but I can’t move a muscle. Not even my pinkie finger. I panic, convinced I’m suffocating, and I struggle to wake myself up, but the more I struggle the worse it gets. I always wake up eventually, but it’s pretty traumatic.

The other night I did something different. As soon as I realized I couldn’t move I deliberately told myself to stop thinking and just breathe. At first trying to relax felt harder than struggling—it felt like I was giving up. Like if I didn’t struggle I would die. But for the tiniest of moments I let my mind settle, and my body followed suit, and that’s all I remember before waking up in the morning.

Since that night I’ve used this method in my waking life too, and I’ve experienced first hand what struggle does and what non-struggle does. It’s obvious to me that non-struggle is the way to go. If we can let go and let the universe work for us, instead of against us, the ride would go a lot smoother.

Denise Barry is the author of the award winning children’s picture books “What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with Our Teeth?” and “Soap On A Rope.” She also writes inspirational articles for various websites, including Positively Positive, Manifest Station, Karen Salmansohn and Dirty Girl Mud Run. She writes a parenting blog on her own website called Raisin’ Kids, to help parents raise children who become adults, not adult children. Please visit her website at

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