COUNSELOR'S CORNER: Unnecessary tension

By Fred Cavaiani

The meaning of tension is “the state of being stretched tight.” It can also mean strain, anxiety, pressure, worry, agitation or nervousness. Tension happens when we are uncertain of how life is going. It also happens when we realize that things and people are out of our control. The problem for most of us is accepting that things are out of control. When we live in our tomorrows and when we live in our yesterdays, we are focusing on what is out of our control. The only control I have is how well I am embracing and accepting the present moment. 

Another form of tension happens when I invest my energy in making judgements about other people when I have absolutely no real evidence that my judgments are accurate. It is so easy to invest in condemning other people. I make my opinions judgments and then act as if these judgments I have made are absolute reality.  It is easy to do this but it simply causes us to be tense because none of us have any control over other people’s personalities and opinions. Once I realize this I can get back to living my own life.

To go through life internally condemning people because they do not think the way we think is not healthy. It creates a frustration and restlessness that helps no one. 

I have discovered over the years that sharing with others about what my internal life is like is much more comfortable than sharing my judgments about what other people are like or should be like. People who can share with me what is going on inside of them, their joys, their hopes, their pain, and their failures and successes, give me a positive energy and a experience of the best in life. This humble honesty gives me a glimpse of God and a connection with God because it is so real, honest and non-judgmental.

I am always amazed what happens to a group of people who use their time condemning others and bemoaning all the problems and evils outside of themselves. We have all done this. We have all been there. But where does it get us? We become like little “God Jrs” acting as if we have all knowledge and facts about the world when all we have out very uneducated opinions.

A relaxed person is a compassionate person. A person free from tension is often a person who can appreciate the value of silent reflection and warm compassion. A person who keeps making judgments and outlandish personal attacks on other people creates a negative energy. The only people who want to be around someone like this are people who connect with others by bashing and condemning those not like them. To be in a group like this is to be in a group of constant tension and constant feeling that the world around them will turn into their enemy. This is to live a life in perpetual tension.

We all tend to live in unnecessary tension. Look at the times you criticized someone else to a third person. Then when this third person agreed with you and added to your criticism, what happened to you? I am sure it didn’t make you feel serene and peaceful. It increased the tension.

We live in a world of tension today. The terrorist attacks we read and hear about are unsettling. The availability of the news media to keep us informed about every minute detail of the latest attack or bombing can create a constant tension within us. We can easily lose our own sense of comfort and peace. We can live in fear. It is as if the next catastrophe is right around the block. 

The way out of this tension is to realize that I can only control this moment. The number of deaths from terrorists are usually small compared with the number of deaths that happen overall, but major in the fear that comes upon us. 

If we live in love and compassion and realize that this moment is all we have, we escape tension and put ourselves into a loving and compassionate presence. This presence is the greatest weapon we have to ensure a peaceful world. It is also the greatest help to enjoy and experience goodness in the present moment. Unite with others about what is good. Let go of connecting with others in bemoaning the evils of the world and keep focusing with gratitude and awareness of all the goodness that is around you at this very present moment.

Become a woman and man who avoids unnecessary tension and promotes an attitude of peacefulness and love. You will be doing the best thing possible to create a world of love and peace. It sounds simple. It sounds idealistic. But it is so very true.

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Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychotherapist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. He is also on staff at Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington, MI. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com

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