“Keep it simple,” my mom would say whenever I was on the edge of a panic attack in college. Now her voice rings in my ears when I start to get stressed, anxious or burned out. It’s my trigger to let me know I’m doing too much.

The stress I feel lets me know I’m putting way too much pressure on myself to get it all done.

Maybe you too have felt the crushing weight of stress and didn’t know how to handle it. I get it. Nowadays, we have more tools for getting stressed than we have for ridding stress.

Stress is self-inflicted; it is us torturing ourselves.

We place expectations on the outcome of our pursuits, demanding that the orchestra of life perform a certain way. But what if it doesn’t? What if the chords are off, or an instrument is missing? We berate the conductor and the musicians. We challenge the sheet music and try to perfect the tempo, rather than just enjoy the beautiful rhythm.

There is a harmony to life that comes naturally. We don’t have to do anything but allow it.

Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated. We insist on resisting the flow. We insist on making mountains out of mole hills. We insist on blowing things out of proportion. We insist on crying wolf. We insist on blaming Uncle Sam.

Why? Because we learned fear.

Why Do We Complicate Things?

We watch how others do it and we follow suit. We rock the boat. We criticize. We overthink and overanalyze. We doubt ourselves and debate our innate value.

All in the name of fear.

Fear is a widespread epidemic. A contagion passed on from generation to generation. A message laced with poison.

Fear says “I can’t” and “I shouldn’t” and “I won’t.” The energy it puts out is Me and Mine. We tell God we don’t trust what’s easy. And we lock ourselves in a prison of lack and limitation because “not enough” is more believable than abundance.

For no other reason than that is why we struggle.

We clutter our thoughts with judgments, expectations, complaints and worries, distracting ourselves from acceptance and beauty.

We try so hard to protect ourselves from death and humiliation that we attempt to force life into submission. As long as we don’t get hurt… We think we need to fight in order to survive. We don’t embrace fully our experiences because we’re too busy dodging bullets.

We’ve become victims by our own hands.

How do we complicate things?

If fear is why we complicate things, logic is how. We complicate matters by trying to make sense of everything with our logical mind. But the flow of life is not logical.

“Fair and square” doesn’t exist as a common Universal Law. There is no such thing. Expecting it to be so (on your terms) will leave you disappointed. Life is too subjective for that.

We resist the flow of life with all of our logical arguments, faulting everyone else for not living up to our same moral code.

Fear would have us believe that we need to collect theories, proof and credentials for why we should be loved. Yet we can’t be anything other than loved—it’s our natural state.

Meanwhile, we’re buried beneath all the lies we tell ourselves. Buried so deep we can’t discern the Truth. Lost under the illusion, sinking more and more into the fold.

The way out of complication? Clear the clutter that drowns us.

A Return To Simple

Whether something is simple or complicated is a matter of perception and belief.

What are you telling yourself? Why can’t you do it? Why do you have to wait? Why don’t you measure up?

What influences are you letting into your life? What information are you taking in?

Marianne Williamson addresses our complicated lives in A Return to Love,

When we were born, we were programmed perfectly. We had a natural tendency to focus on love. We were connected to a world much richer than the one we connect to now. A world full of enchantment and a sense of the miraculous.

So what happened?

We were taught to focus elsewhere. We were taught to think unnaturally. We were taught a very bad philosophy, a way of looking at the world that contradicts who we are.

We were taught to think thoughts like competition, struggles, sickness, finite resources, limitation, guilt, bad, death, scarcity and loss. We began to think them and so we began to know them. We were taught that grades, being good enough, and doing things the right way are more important than love.

The spiritual journey is the relinquishment or unlearning of fear.

If we stay blinded by fear, we won’t be able to see our way back to simple. We won’t be able to see the endless opportunities and limitless potential that really exists for us.

When we go with the flow, the going is easy. Life becomes effortless. When we stop resisting, the complications melt away.

When we release ourselves from the bondage of fear, we’re free to let it be simple.