So we can chat about yoga, serenity prayers, time outs, taking a deep breath, running 5 miles each morning, or other sworn by methods to relax in a tense moment. Navy seal guys go through months and months of deep conditioning training to reprogram their responses stress and chaos….why can’t we all?
To do lists a million miles long, lines of folks each with different requests (that need immediate responses), work drama, kid drama, friend and family drama, blood sugar crashes, and just dealing with being in closer than desired proximity to likely 1,000,000 complete strangers co-habitating your corner of the earth. Yep, I have probably lost my Sh** on all of them at one point or another. Short temper, veins popping out of the forehead, a tight grip on the forearm as I escort a screaming child away from whatever is overstimulating them into a fever of wants and needs as some of those million complete strangers look on in judgement…we have all been there. Likely, we have also calmed down after the fact and pulled it together to realize the situation could have been handled differently with different effects. So how can this be avoided in the first place?
One little mental shift that for me added a bucket of relief was realizing that I am a very small part of this world. I know, totally anti-millenium (truth be told, despite me blogging and all, I was born in 1980 so I consider myself 85% X-gen and 15% millennial and that’s only on a ‘i’m feeling perky and want to share good with the world kinda day’). Basically all the let’s lift up the ego and confidence of these young tikes (that we all got as kids) really didn’t do us any favors. OK, Yes confidence and a healthy ego are important, but if we focus too much on ourselves its a darn slippery slope to WRONGLY thinking we can control more than we really can. We can end up feeling like stuff is DONE TO US…the dreaded victimization problem. Instead, if we think a little less of ourselves as the center of EVERYTHING we may remove that ‘OH WHY ME!!’ feeling that is so prevalent in those overwhelmed stressed out feelings (which leads to assumptions that the rest of the world has it easier, grass is greener so now I’m just pissed…yada yada…and other non-sensical judgements).
It’s totally understandable that this is a pretty common response and it is not to say we don’t all appreciate a shoulder to vent on occasionally. I often initially respond like this as I feel connected to the world about me and it’s harder for me to compartmentalize myself from others. But is it really productive? I don’t think so and unfortunately, at least for my slow to change self, it doesn’t help me prevent poor future reactions to similar stresses. My pity parties rarely leave me feeling uplifted and motivated….
So I have a math background and I just can’t help but pull out some geeky math thoughts as I seek help for my personality fails. Basically I think the world is a really REALLY random place. Crazy crap happens every day to everyone. Horrible things happen to good people and some really horrendous folks don’t have karma happen enough. Leaving faith & pre-destiny aside, I feel there are a bunch of random variables working together in some mystical relationship that spells out the interactions of the day. Some days are normal & middle of the road, other ones are fatter tailed & more extreme. Our responses to each interaction are governed by our emotional distribution which widens when we are in that overwhelmed stressed mode. If we are calm and objective we tend to respond more consistently (more middle of the road), if we get hyped up and agitated we respond more extremely (over and under react).
If we treat each interaction, task, request, or moment as the random event it is, it becomes less personal. No one is truly out to get us, not our kids, not our mother-in-laws, and definitely not the crazy lady driving like a bat-outta-hell on her cell phone in front of us or the compulsive dude wanting to understand all aspects of his dishtowel selection in line at the home store.
If the face of a stressful event could be treated as NOT PERSONAL, we may actually find we have the space we need to respond more productively, with genuine care and grounded emotions. If it is 100% not personal, it is much harder to get resentful, overwhelmed or victimized. We can focus on just the situation where there is a problem and (hopefully) a solution. Like 1st grade story making…there is a scene, characters, a problem and a solution…PERIOD. Not once is my 1st grader told to ensure each story also has an emotional drama component.
Stress just happens, tough situations come up daily. No one wakes up and wants to be and over-reacting zealot to the world around them. We can only hope & try for objective and calm responses to this world. Maybe just maybe if we take some of the ego and self out of our stresses it will make it easier to do so more often.