de laatste bosjesmannen

Mindfulness and stress

Statement: we are full of expectations (illusions) about how it should be

Stress is the tension between “what is”
and the expectation we cherish about how it should be.
We experience happiness when life unfolds according to our expectations.
We experience misfortune if life (or the other) is not behaving according to our expectations.

Thinking in coming short
Growing up in a world full of wrong assumptions and 1001 illusions, we get desperately stuck. Instead of looking at our expectations, we project a world around us that is coming short all the time. No one and nothing meets our often invisible desires and like little infants, we are looking for super pleasers. The moment you start to see this clearly, you will find yourself upset. That is continuing to happen to me every now and then: “Did I really step in the same pitfall again?”. Yes Alina, again.

out of controlWrong expectations
Tanzania is such a good example. For months I have been wrestling with this new reality after my emigration. The differences in culture are enormous. Looking back I was plainly unhappy. Nothing was what it had looked like. I got nuts of spending time for all practical things that were asked of me. I got aghast of the overdose of insincere, financial, emotional painful and sometimes cruel experiences. I was shaking on my foundations and being confused I didn’t know anymore who to trust and who not. I felt no control over my own life and it caused a continues feeling of panic (read stress) in me as if I was hanging in the mouth of a cheetah. “I am too honest and sensitive for this country and I don’t know if I can manage”: I desperately shared with Rama, who obviously started to doubt the same more and more.

One day my ex-partner and best friend Ivar, who was getting more and more concerned in the Netherlands and trying to support me, said: “Tanzania is Tanzania and it will continue to do what it always does. How are you going to deal with yourself?”

With other words: how was I going to deal with my wrong expectations? That did the job. In the next few weeks, I started to adjust all expectations, that were causing nothing else then misery. Every day I felt a little bit better. It is mindblowing how fast this can happen.

It is clear the Tanzanian doesn’t get upset by their own society. That is what they are passing on to their children. It is admirable how relaxed they are able to deal with misfortune, corruption and deliberately caused fraud and deception. With humor, they are able to accept life like some absurdist theatre show. Control is an illusion, so Alina, how come do you take everything so serious? … they are asking me.
My guide and smart ass Innocent (28) saw me losing 4 kg of weight some months ago, and he told me then: “Tanzania is going to teach you to really relax”. He was right. It doesn’t mean anything to be in bliss in the Walhalla of the Netherlands. This is the real mindfulness work. It’s do or die.

Despite changing circumstances (recently again someone that seemed a potential friend exposed himself), I caught myself walking around with more inner peace. My head is clear again and with a heart full of love, I again found peace with a world that seemed to be so shortcoming.
“For most of us, it takes 6 to 8 months” my friend H told me yesterday, just coming back from a 2 months visit to her homeland Belgium. Exhausted of all the dishwashing, trying to escape from the endless narcissistic talk of family, friends, and acquaintances, clearly a few kgs lighter, she is overjoyed to be back.

I understand what she means.

Photo’s: Marlon du Toit and Hans Charltz (Sukuma Theatre)