Things happen. From time to time, our well-laid plans go sideways, and no matter how hard we try to fix the situation, we’re pushed further and further off course.
Most times, we can handle these situations when they come one at a time; we understand that these things happen. But, when it comes in twos and threes, our normally stoic demeanor turns bitter and off-putting.
We get angry and start to lash out. Our Shadow (opens in new window) begins to leak, and the emotions that we’ve gotten good at suppressing come to the forefront while our reality begins to distort, tinting everything the same color as our moods.
Stress has a way of warping the world around us, distorting the true form of everything within view. It begins to seep into our lives by stealing our joy, causing us to lash out in ways that we would never have before.
How do we combat this? How can we better weather the storms that come our way? I have three ideas that I’d like to share with you:
See The Bigger Picture
Our lives are a series of moments that, when taken together, create the days, months, and years of our existence. It’s when we confuse one particular moment in time for the entirety of our lives that we stop progressing forward.
These moments can become a full stop if we allow them to. They can become so big that all we see is that moment as we live in its all-encompassing shadow.
You know this to be true. Just think back on one particular moment in time when things didn’t go as planned. Life was tough; you said things you didn’t mean, you felt ways that you didn’t want to feel, yet after a little time had passed, you thought to yourself, “Wow, that wasn’t so bad. Why was I so upset?”
The reason why is that you took your eye off the bigger picture. You confused the stress of the moment for all there was, it blocked everything else, and all you could see was THAT moment.
In times of stress, focus on the bigger picture. Temporarily remove yourself from the moment and take a look around you. There is so much to be thankful for, so many other things that are going right — having a tough time at work? What about that new relationship in your life? How about your wife and children? Or even your sports team that is finally starting to win games after ten years?
What about the bigger plan of your life? So what, you had a setback. It happens, and it can be changed. Fix it. Go to work and make it right. If you have to, back up and find another way. Just don’t take your eyes off the big picture and stop confusing the moment for the entirety of your life.
Know Your Warning Signs
Understand what makes you tick. Take time to reflect on how you feel during moments of stress. That way, you get better at understanding your internal warning signs. The best way to combat depression, stress, and anxiety is to catch yourself in the act BEFORE the snowball gets too big. A one-pound snowball is much easier to stop than one that’s five-hundred pounds.
When you start to feel moments of stress, anxiety, or depression coming on, remind yourself of the bigger picture and figure out how best to transmute (opens in a new window) those feelings into something more productive. Instead of seeing your flaws and how you’re not good enough, figure out what you need to do to make things better. Don’t repress your emotions, live in them, understand them, and figure out how to use them to make yourself better.
Become More Accepting
You’re not perfect. Not even close. You make mistakes. I make mistakes. We all make mistakes. Things happen. Accept that it did, learn from the moment, and move on.
Stress is lonely. It makes you feel vulnerable and alone. Like there is nobody that has ever felt the way that you feel.
Don’t believe that lie. Accept what has happened, forgive yourself or others for the mistakes that were made and move on. To dwell is to take your eyes off the bigger picture. To dwell means that you’re focusing on the wrong and not how to make it right.
The best way to do this is to withhold judgment and by becoming more mindful of the situation. Slow things down, take a breath, and stop blaming yourself or others for just a moment. Tell yourself that it happened and that you’re still alive. That there are still great things in your life even though the moment is scary. You can handle it. Just accept that it is, that it happened and then clear your mind. Think about your next step instead of only focusing on the stumble.
Please consider sharing if you know somebody who could benefit from this post. Remember, we’re all in this together.