Are you feeling anxious, pressured and uncertain about how to cope with a continuous flow of stressful events? Does your life feel out of control?
Join one of the biggest single groups in the country. I call it the SOG. That’s, stressed out generation.
No one is immune today from a variety of stressful situations originating in their careers, relationships, financial lives and every thing else that crosses your path. Go on vacation and you most likely feel some stress from some situation. Spend a quiet evening at home and I guarantee a stressful circumstance is waiting to attack via your telephone, television, doorbell or computer.
To tell you that stressful events are normal in your life is not reassuring. To give you a laundry list of exercises and things to do to reduce your stress is a waste of time. To share solutions with you that can help you cope more stressfully is a fantasy. Then what’s left?
Stress is a neutral concept. It is neither positive or negative. Stress is not found in a late plane, a broken appointment, a finicky computer, or children or employees that don’t behave according to your expectations. Stress is not waiting on hold, being over drawn or waiting for anyone. These are just events. What makes them stressful is how you chose to react to them. Let me summarize my all day seminar on stress with one sentence.
Stress is your inside-out reaction to outside-in events, circumstances, people or conditions.
Some people create a great deal of inner stress from a certain situation while others do not see the same situation as stressful. Some people are able to “push people’s buttons”, while they have no effect on other people.
You see stress is not about what is going on “out there”, but what is going “in here”, inside your own mind.
This article is in two parts. Part one, what causes, stress. And, I am not going to give you a list of stressful events, but rather another way to look at why you react, inside-out, as you do, to these situations, or people. Part two, how can you regain control of your mental self so that these circumstances no longer have power over your reactions.
Why does one person feel their life is out of control, while others seem to glide through life in charge of their destiny or mission? I believe there are a number of contributors to these two outlooks. They include, but are certainly not limited to:
expectations, personal agendas, perceptions, life outlook, beliefs, values, emotional maturity, self-esteem, personal development, spiritual development, self-acceptance and self-love.
Let’s take a brief look at each of these.
One of the greatest causes of frustration for many people is the unrealized expectations of other people’s behavior or actions. Low expectations protect you from disappointment, high expectations set you up for disappointment. The answer is to deal in reality of what is. Going through life without expectations is to create an average life without color, joy and passion. The key is to manage your expectations with a clear picture of who you are, who other people really are and what is.
Everyone in life has personal goals, dreams, desires, hopes and agendas to realize these. A personal agenda is only destructive when you must manipulate others through guilt, blame, anger or any other emotional power play to get what you want regardless of the price you or others must pay.
People in your life are not your personal pawns. Life is not a chess match. When you act without regard for the impact on others lives, you are being totally selfish. A healthy selfishness is necessary if you are to achieve personal freedom and reach your objectives or goals in life, however, these should not be accomplished at the expenses of others in life. There is enough in this life for everyone. There is no shortage of abundance, there is only a shortage of vision, courage, creativity or imagination on how to get your share without hurting others in the process.
Everyone filters life through their own set of personal filters. We all see life as we are not as it is. Ten people can witness anything; a book, movie, meal, auto accident, argument, play, or persons behavior and they will all see them differently. This is not good or bad, right or wrong. People are not good or bad, right or wrong. They are all doing the best they can with what they have at their disposal at any given time.
Your perceptions or interpretations are your own. You own them. I don’t have to see life as you see it and you don’t have to see life as I see it.
The world is not flat, spicy food is only too hot for some people, drivers in front of you are only too slow when you are in a hurry, late is relative to your ideas about time, the list is endless.
Whether you see; the glass as half full or half empty, the future as bright or same stuff different day, the past as a teacher or one disappointment after another, life as hard or one day at a time, is your overall life outlook. People with a positive hopeful life outlook live longer, accomplish more and live healthier than people who have a negative, pessimistic outlook. When you look at everything in life as negative, you will experience everything in life as negative. It doesn’t mean it is, but that is how you interpret it. Failure is not negative it is neutral. Some people use failure to get stronger, wiser and better, while others use failure as an excuse for poor performance, results and so on.
All of life is neutral. To see yourself as a victim is to wish your circumstances continue. Life is not lurking in some dark corner witting to pounce on your dreams, desires again and again. It is there for you to use, interpret, perceive and learn from.
Everyone believes a number of things. Some are in line with TRUTH and some are not. You can believe that to jump off a 50 story building is not going to hurt, but life doesn’t really care what you believe or accept. It is immune to your beliefs right or wrong. Operate within truth principles and you will enjoy peace, harmony and balance. Break the rules or try to make your own and you will enjoy frustration, anxiety and disharmony.
Your beliefs have accumulated through the years as a result of early caretaker teaching and guidance and from your daily experiences and circumstances that reinforced or disputed those earlier teachings.
The difference between your beliefs and reality is your personal discomfort zone.
Values are what you stand for. They are the fiber of your being. Everyone’s values are different or unique. No ones values are right or wrong. They may appear as wrong if they differ from your own, but in the other persons consciousness they are acceptable, normal or appropriate. The problem arises in human interaction when I see your values as incorrect and try to change or manipulate yours to be more like mine. But I am not right either. Different values cause people to feel stressed when they are unsuccessful at changing the other person, group, culture, or nation.
Emotional maturity is your ability to see life events and people with a clear vision and without prejudice or judgments. Some people grow old and are as immature emotionally as when they were in high school. Some people, however, have learned at various stages of their life to manage their responses, reactions, emotions, feelings, thoughts and behavior. When you lack emotional maturity you tend to see life as difficult, unfair, unjust, and uncaring. When you have a high degree of emotional maturity you see “the why” in people’s actions, “the why” in the circumstances of life and “the why” in the unfolding of your life.
Self esteem is your picture of yourself. It is who you think you are. If your self-esteem is high, you feel confident, courageous, hopeful, in control, and aware. If your self-esteem is low you see yourself as a victim and life out of control or your hands. Its just fate!
When your self esteem is low, you will tend to feel anxious, afraid, desperate, uncertain and a pawn in life for people to use or abuse as they see fit. When your self-esteem is high, you will tend to take action, make decisions, move forward and take life as it comes. You are not a victim but the master of your ship or destiny.
Your self-esteem is not a function of other people’s acceptance, your success, accomplishments, failures, mistakes, bank balance, address, wardrobe or any other superficial or outside circumstance. Your self-esteem is a function of the inner picture and acceptance of yourself and your personal mission, journey.
Personal development is similar to your self-development. Self-development is your investment of time, energy, and resources into the better awareness and understanding of building a better you. Whether it is mentally, spiritually, physically or any other aspect of your life.
Everywhere in life you look you can find people who are alone, afraid, lack the skills or attitudes necessary for happiness and success, and generally upset that their life is turning out the way it is. Life turns out the way it is because that’s the way life is. The assignments we are given as we walk this life are there to help us learn how to be more of who we can be. Just as a student can go into a final exam poorly prepared, you too can go through life poorly prepared.
This is a wonderful time to be alive. There are book stores full of answers, CD Roms fill with insight and information, libraries crammed full of everything that you ever wanted to know about anything, seminars, courses, retreats, symposiums. I could go on an on. The book you don’t read can’t help you. The seminar you miss can’t benefit your career, relationships or life.
Spiritual development is a misnomer. Your spirit is already fully developed. The key is to become more aware of your spirit’s development and integrate its insight, love, wisdom and power into your active consciousness.
This can only be accomplished through meditation, introspection, listening and awareness. These will not happen on their own. It takes action, dedication, time and commitment to be willing to get in touch with this higher self. But when you do, you will tap into reserves of love, energy, peace and wisdom that could have not come to you from any other source.
Self-acceptance and self-love.
One of the most difficult things for people to do seems to be to accept and love themselves. People seem to be only to love and accept themselves when they are with the right person, have the right job or career, live in the right house or climate, make enough money, have good kids, weigh a certain amount, have the right color hair, drive the right car or take the right vacations.
All of these are not who you are nor do they represent who you are. They are all temporary and unimportant. The problem for many people whose lives are out of control, they have made these the center of their lives, and when they lose one of them or many of them they lose self-acceptance and self-love.
I hope you like this book, but I will not love or accept myself less if you don’t
Self-love and self-acceptance are inside-out not outside-in approaches to life.
When you need acceptance, approval, praise or recognition from your outside world it is most likely because you are not accepting yourself for who you are. It is not about what you have or don’t have. You can have anything in your life you want, but you can’t have everything, it’s not that kind of world.
Part two. How to regain control over your life.
Let’s revisit each of the eleven concepts.
1. Monitor your expectations of yourself and others. Learn to see where the patterns of frustration and emotional turmoil are most frequent in your life.
2. Ask yourself why you have these expectations, where do they originate, are they in your best interests?
3. Try playing with your expectations. Practice expecting more, less, nothing and see what happens.
4. Get in touch with your feelings when you are disappointed by someone or something. How does it feel?
5. Discuss your expectations with the people in your life. Determine whether they are willing to try and meet them or not. Negotiate or trade off some expectations, by trying to meet more of theirs if they will try and meet some of yours.
1. Ask yourself what your personal agendas are, that may be hurting yourself or other people in your life.
2. Are your agendas taking into consideration the impact they may be having on other people?
3. Have you shared your personal agendas with the people in your life that can help you accomplish them?
4. Is it time to let go of agendas that no longer serve your life or future, because of age, willingness, other competing agendas, health, or interest?
1. What are your perceptions about people, life or circumstances that seem to be hindering your success?
2. How have your perceptions been modified over the years about the important areas in life?
3. What messages or signals are you getting in life now that are trying to tell you to look more honestly at your perceptions?
4. What or who are your teachers in life now that are attempting to mirror back to you your need for perceptual growth?
1. What are you focusing on at this stage of your life?
2. What is your view of the future? The past? The present?
3. What is your attitude about your life up to this point?
4. How would you like to change the direction of your life?
1. What do you believe in strongly that may need to be re-evaluated?
2. Where do you tend to get most of your beliefs from in life?
3. Are you receptive and open to new ideas or belief systems that you are not familiar with?
4. Are you feeling “stuck” in any area of your life?
1. Are your values continuing to serve you well in the present?
2. Have any of your life values changed in the recent past?
3. Are any of your values getting in the way of your success or happiness?
4. Conduct a values assessment. List all of your current life values and their source.
1. Do you tend to get easily hooked emotionally by other people?
2. Is there a pattern to your emotional reactions that disturbs you?
3. Is there one particular emotion that is a part of your behavior that you would like to change?
4. Is your life in balance? if not where do you need to become more balanced?
1. Do you like yourself just as you are?
2. What do you need to change to better like yourself?
3. Is your self-esteem a function of someone or something in your environment.
4. Is your self-esteem lower or higher than in the past and why?
1. What is your attitude about self-improvement materials?
2. Do you regularly invest time, energy and money in the development of your skill and attitudes?
3. Do you spend regular time planning, thinking, evaluating and studying?
4. What is the general direction of your life today?
1. Do you spend regular quiet time to get in touch with your inner being, or higher self?
2. Are you growing in spiritual awareness?
Self-acceptance and self-love.
1. Do you love yourself as you are?
2. What would you change about yourself to be more lovable?
3. Is your self-love or acceptance a function of your outside approval or acceptance?