You could be your own worst enemy, here are three simple ways to make life easier.
by Marianne Heron
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by pressure and by everything that is landing in those in-trays labelled Spouse, Parent, Friend, Employee, etc . Everyone wants a slice of you and it seems that the one person you never have time for is you in the daily rush to meet deadlines.
But the funny thing is that often the person responsible for creating stress in your life is you. Some things are completely outside your influence, the weather, for instance, or the traffic. Short of moving to another climate or out of town there’s nothing much you can do about them. But other things are very much within your control, especially your own perceptions and the way you respond to what happens.
With some helpful insights you can develop skills for managing yourself which will make steering your way through the traffic of life much easier.
Make a difference
There are things that use up a lot of emotional energy without you being aware of how they are sapping your resources. These are like leaks in the water pipes, or burning up electricity when there’s only so much there in the reservoir or grid. Add in more extra demands and the system crashes.
- Save that energy and you have freed up your resources for much more rewarding things.
- Better still, life will have a much more easeful flow to it
- And you will be open to more positive experiences.
Worry, conflict and poor time management
First a look at perceptions – the way we make sense of reality. Given millions of stimuli bombarding us, it’s not surprising that we have to be selective. We develop patterns of perception and ways of reacting to them.
One of them is our flight or fight response: As a survival mechanism it may be a lifesaver in the jungle but these days your reaction to a perceived threat or challenge often results in negative stress.
Worry – it isn’t going to happen – it’s a dress rehearsal for a show that never happens. Yet how much time and energy do we spend worrying about stuff? In about 60% of cases the things you worry about aren’t going to happen anyway, and 20% of them are already in the past, 10% of the remainder are not worth worrying about, and the 10% remaining might merit concern. Skip that 90% of things that aren’t worth worrying about, and you will have made a 90% saving of mental energy
Managing the worry…
Hit the pause button and ask yourself what it is that you fear.
- Do a reality test. What reason do you have for thinking this? Did this ever happen to you happen before?
- Check the facts, if you don’t have them find out more.
- Check for traps you are building for yourself through habits of negative thinking: over generalisation (just because one thing has gone wrong imagining that everything will go wrong), maximisation (blowing up the bad things,) minimisation (ignoring the good things) and mind reading (I know that he must be thinking I am incompetent) are just a few.
- Check out the source of the anxiety. Is it within your control or is it someone else’s stuff?
- Try reframing. Is there another way of looking at this in a more positive light? Try a second position, i.e. look at the situation objectively as though you are someone else.
- Shift the emphasis from problem to solution. Problem focus looks at where things went wrong, for instance if a relationship is going through a bad patch you think about the difficulties, whereas solution focus looks at ways of sorting things out.
- Brainstorm about the things you could do? Narrow these down to the best options. What worked before when things were going well?
- If it works do more of it, if it doesn’t work do something different. Remind yourself what the definition of madness is – doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
*Marianne Heron is a journalist, author and life coach and co founder of The Bridge retirement coaching.