Is Stress Really Necessary?
When all is said and done, beneath pandemic fatigue, beneath the political goings on, beneath juggling parental responsibilities with professional responsibilities, your own state of mind is what gets you through. Or else it plunges you into some dark thinking that takes a while to shift.
I’ve just finished 25 one-on-one interviews for a company-wide training I’ll be co-leading this week. What’s emerged from these conversations is that overwhelmingly, people are hungry for a fresh perspective on dealing with challenges that arise from shifting deadlines, frequent changes of direction, feeling things have stalled or juggling unexpected delays.
While these may not be your specific challenges, they speak to a larger issue that all of us have faced over the last eleven months: the stress levels that build up when we say “no” to situations that requires a more nimble, open-minded response.
For many of us, our first response to the unexpected is resistance. We’ve been conditioned to rely on tried-and-true methods and it’s not comfortable putting them aside. We just keep trying to recycle strategies or techniques like a battery-powered toy that keeps bumping into the wall.
This is where our own infinite creative capacity is just waiting for you to tap into. Did you even know that was still (and always) available to you?
Remember the inventiveness, curiosity and willingness to try out new ideas that you had as a child? Those qualities haven't gone anywhere - you still have them! They’ve just been tamped down in order for you to fit into a particular “track” in life.
Trying to stay in that track can cause stress levels to rise. After all, if your “tried and true” strategies no longer work as well as they used to, or not all, it's all to easy to get angry and frustrated.
For instance, I’m still aware that one of the ways I resist circumstances happens when I can’t do something the way I usually do it (and of course already know the answers for). I start trying to find out either who’s at fault so they can fix it (not me, of course!) or I get caught up in imagining a negative outcome and what others will think of me as a result.
When I catch myself reacting this way, I have the choice to either continue to spin my wheels (and build up a lot of self imposed pressure) or I can take that same energy potential and use it to tap into my inherent creativity and get to work solving the problem I’ve been avoiding.
Stress levels go way down when we stop putting so much time into saying no.
None of us have to stay caught up in our negative projections or our resentment. Why? Because human beings are designed to start fresh in any moment. When we put aside our issues with the way things are, we increase the bandwidth in our heads and new alternatives have room to emerge.
It's this natural capacity for turning on a dime that we lose touch with when we keep trying to respond to the immediacy of life with inflexibility and stubbornness.
Plus, we miss all the fun and the positive energy we feel when we come up with something new that gets us to our goal faster and more easily.
Next time you find yourself ranting at circumstances and wishing things were different, take a breath, look again, and ask yourself, "what else is possible"?
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