I’ve been paying attention to people a bit more lately. And they’re all going through stuff. Big or little, their “stuff” is causing stress and most of these folks are struggling in how to deal with it.
Work. Family. Spouses. Children. Bills. You name it, and people are trying to cope. I’ve also noticed that many of them are also trying to either change the situation they’re in or the person (or people) they’re dealing with.
How many times have you caught yourself saying, “Things will be different when…”
- My bills are paid off
- Things settle down at work
- My child grows up and I get me-time back
- My husband starts pitching in more around the house
- My wife stops nagging me
- This latest project is finished
- I make the next deadline…
There are limitless excuses we make in the hopes that something will change. But these are immediate and reactionary responses that don’t get us anywhere. They also take away our sense of empowerment, our own control, and hand it right over to the person or situation dealing with.
That’s the irony behind all of this. I do it myself, and none of us are immune. It’s very easy to pick on something external to us and find a convincing argument that stress will ease when that external something-or-other changes.
But imagine if you didn’t hand over control and kept it for yourself instead.
Think about a situation you’re dealing with now in which it feels like you’re not in control. Now think of all the excuses made to complain about it, such as: “I can’t believe he did that. Why would he do that to me?”…”Did you see how they handled that deadline at work? Now we all have to work longer because of it.”…”If they hired someone with more experience, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”…”Why can’t my husband help out with the laundry? Is it too much to ask?”…”She won’t leave me alone. If she just got off my back, life would be a lot easier around here.”
How does it make you feel when you fall prey to those thoughts? Helpless? Frustrated? Angry? Out of control?
Now think about that same situation and imagine changing your reaction, your perception, of what’s going on. Next time you fall into that mind-trap, take charge of your reaction, take charge of you, and instead think: “I choose to not get angry with his oversight. He’s trying his best just like I am.”…”He’s not an idiot. He’s just overwhelmed with his new job and I’ve been there myself.”…”He may not have helped with laundry, but he cooked dinner the other day. I’ll thank him for it.”…”I’ll respond to her question rather than blow it off. She’s nagging only because I’m ignoring her.”
It’s a small and simple shift, really, but one with a big benefit: it gives us peace of mind and a bigger sense of control. It changes helplessness into self-reliance; frustration into fulfillment; anger into inner peace.
“I have learned that I really do have discipline, self-control, and patience. But they were given to me as a seed, and it’s up to me to choose to develop them.” (Joyce Meyer)
In the end the only thing you have control over is you. So the next time you want to react and hand over control of a situation, take a deep breath and rethink what you can do to take charge of you. Don’t give all the power to the person who’s annoying you, or the tough situation you’re facing. Give it to you. Walk away from the person or issue if you need. Take five minutes, or two hours, or a whole day. But find the time to find you. Then, turn it around with patience and grace and take charge of what you truly control.
It’ll have a profound impact on your life.
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