5 Ways to Bend so You Don’t Break
We are about to hit the homestretch of the Christmas and holiday season. A time which can be extremely stressful due to expectations. Expectations of a spouse, children, family, employer, co-workers, friends, or even you own expectations around how Christmas should unfold This pressure to perform a certain way does nothing more than add stress and raise your blood pressure during a time which should be met with calm reflection and enjoyment.
No matter how hard your try, you will eventually come face to face with circumstances or events which you did not ask to be in yet send you in a tail spin. Whether it be expectations, a life change, an unexpected job loss, a call from the doctor, or an unforeseen accident. These obstacles can catch you off guard. The usual response during these times is to freeze up. To turn inward because your mind is attempting to process our circumstances. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. But can send your life completely off the tracks if you let yourself get consumed by your circumstances.
The challenge is keeping a proper focus during the more pressing times. The best way to accomplish this task is to bend. Be flexible enough to control the situation instead of looking for an expected outcome and letting the situation control you.
Expectations are a killer. You can probably remember a time when an event or activity was not too bad. But since the event or activity did not turn out as expected you become angry and resentful. Especially during challenging times you need to learn to drop your expectations around how you think a situation should turn out. This is no easy task, but can alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress during challenging times.
You still need to work toward your goals, have a plan, and attempt to execute against them as much as possible. But don’t get too caught up in how things turn out. Be in the moment, keep executing, and be aware of HOW things are turning out. If you don’t let your emotions overtake you in that moment you might have a better view of what you can change or do different. By dropping your expectations you are giving yourself a wonderful gift and opening your eyes wider than you ever imagined to a new reality.
Control Your Responses
Another quality of flexibility is controlling your response. No matter what the circumstance you may have little control over what is happening to you, but you can control how you respond. When bad things happen you might get defensive and turn inward thinking more about self. When you respond from self it will always be a gut reaction. Which usually does not end well.
In being able to bend you are taking a much bigger view in life to realize things are not as bad as they may first appear. You have a bigger mission in life and regardless of the circumstances you face today you still have a purpose and a mission to accomplish. The worst thing you could do is overreact and get thrown off your mission. A controlled response will always let cooler heads prevail.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
One of the saddest ironies is life is how much energy we expend on small decisions. What to get a child for Christmas? What someone thinks about our clothes? Trying to get someone’s attention. These can consume us in the moment, yet are extremely forgettable in the long run. This is one reason you need to optimize your life, create your unique purpose, and follow a plan. When you know your why and what is important to focus on you don’t dwell on the small stuff.
During challenging times your life is most likely going to be turned upside-down. If you shed the small stuff you are eliminating another stressor you don’t need in your life. Stressing over the small stuff wastes valuable energy and emotions which can be expended in much better places. Take an honest look at your life, ask close friends where you stress over small stuff. Then see what you can do to put it behind you so you don’t waste much needed energy.
Another strategy to avoid breaking is to apply some directed flow. During uncertain circumstances you never really know where life is going to take you and in some cases you may have to go with the flow. In this case part of your flexibility will be to utilize directed flow. Do not make your life so rigid during uncertain times that you get derailed because life is not turning out as expected.
Think of life as going down a raging river. Your raft has to follow and acknowledge the flow of the river. But you still have an oar in the water to control what you are able. The more you attempt to fight against the river the more exhausted and frustrated you will become. Applying directed flow during these times is keeping your oar in the water. Your goal is to exit the river when possible and fight another day.
If you want to bend effectively you need to be willing to change, adjust, and move in an unexpected direction. Just as your circumstances change your goals, outputs, and destinations may need to change as well. Just because plans change does not mean you are in a worse situation. You may have a whole new adventure ahead of you, but you have to be willing to see where it will takes you.
Keep you eyes open during this time to take on the new adventure head on. You never know what opportunities will present themselves, but you have to be open to see what will be available.
I tell my children as often as possible that flexibility can be one of the greatest gifts they give themselves. To not get too wrapped up in any situation where it takes them out of the game. Life is full of twists and turns. How you maneuver the road is completely up to you.
The Thrival Guide
Subscribe to get your free Thrival Guide: 10 Tips to Thrive Through the Challenges and Distractions of Modern Life!