Well, we haven’t done this in quite some time now, what with being so busy with multiple projects, and it’s nice to take advantage of slow moments and check in with one another — or at the very least, sit a spell and check in with ourselves. So….how have you been doing lately?
And please, don’t go with the generic, “Oh, fine. Well, so-so, same as everyone else. Could be worse.”
Or the “Woow, superbusy, doing everything, really, you know?”
Or the “Maaan, I’d love to chat, but I don’t have the time to share everything, gotta go.”
How are you doing, really?
Try to recall what happened just in the last 30 days. The year hasn’t been going well for many of us, if the news in anything to go by. Even if you try to avoid the broadcasts just to keep some sort of peaceful, low-key mental zone to rest in, there’s always the internet,with its breaking news, social media and minute-by-minute updates to tell us all about the bad things happening in the world.
Check the article trends in the headlines of your favorite portal sites. You may remember seeing topics like: top 10 mistakes in picking a college major, or how to make enough money to retire, or tips on being able to work long enough to do so.
Go on to the news sites, there are wars, natural disasters, epidemics, graft and corruption, protests, riots….it’s a wonder we can sleep restfully at all with all the madness happening around the world.
Then there’s your own internal strife. Business is going down, what are you going to do about it? There’s not enough time to do all the things you need, what do you do about that? There’s not enough of you to go around, if you could only clone yourself…
Your worries chase themselves in your head, like rats in a maze. Things are moving faster than any one person can understand or can handle, and the world feels like it’s breaking down. The pressure is insane. How do you elbow out some breathing room in all of that?
When times are harder, it isn’t enough to try harder. We’ve all been doing that, and it doesn’t work. Trying smarter helps, yeah. But in a different vein, we have to be more honest. We need to be more honest with our lives.
You need to be open to uncertainty so you can go on to be resilient and flexible. Honor your true commitments. Breathe, and let go of the rest of the deadweight.
Look back at the experiences which really stood out for you, the ones that were the hardest lessons you’ve learned. You know them, they’re your lowest points. When life knocks you for a loop, remember those times. You survived those dark days of your history, you’ll survive this rough part of the road.
The false premise behind ‘trying harder’ is that if only you work more, you’ll win. Just out-stubborn your problems. The issue with that mind-set is that it’s exhausting on the body, and wearying on the soul. “If it doesn’t work, you just didn’t try hard enough,” is a biased judgement, because there are thousands upon thousands of people who worked themselves to the bone and got shafted in circumstances not of their own making.
Inflexible shatters. It bruises us. It has no give. Supple adapts. Times get harder because we try to handle what happens using old rules, and many of them don’t apply any more. Be more honest with yourself about what you can do, what you’re tired of doing, and what you really want to do. Honor your decisions.
Pressure comes from all the things you believe you have to solve or else Something Very Bad Will Happen To You.
- Which of these things are clear and present dangers?
- Which are within your power to influence?
These questions can filter out any actual sources of problems from imagined problems, and then divides that group into issues you can actually affect. You scrape things off your plate that you don’t want.
Learn to identify and how to handle your emotions — especially when you’re low-energy, frustrated, antsy, disappointed, or stalling. There is such as thing as emotional eating and don’t tell me you haven’t experienced any sleeping problems within the past 6 months. Ignoring your own health in favor of racing around ‘putting out fires’ just sets you up to be the center of your own emergency in the future.
Do you really expect things to be easy every day? There are waves and cycles to everything —what helps is being aware of these when they happen.
- See, it’s correct that the more we learn to handle, the more we can handle
- And the better we can identify what troubles us, the less they can continue to do so.
- But, the more we find out what is truly important to us, the less we can give a damn about the things that used to weigh us down.
Yes, times are getting harder but you in response can train to be more flexible, agile and resilient. Flexibility means you can bend and duck, and sway with new rhythms. You can flex to reach places you thought were out of your reach.
To help you further along with calming down and incorporating a more sustainable way of facing the weight of the present and the future (and to get away from the Chicken Little mindset), here are 4 tips to help you.
One: Redefine the meaning of priority
In essence: Don’t do all the things.
Just like the villain said in the Pixar blockbuster The Incredibles, ” And when everyone’s super…no one will be,” when everything is a priority, nothing will be.
It’s simply not possible. Not according to the rules of physics. You can’t do everything at once. Something will give. And in today’s stressed times, that’ll very probably be you. Your health (mental and physical) your relationships (at work, with your family, with yourself, with friends), etc. There’s a weak spot in all systems, and if something goes, that’s where it’ll likely start.
If you can recall the times when you felt like you were spinning apart thinking of all the things you had to do, that would be a perfect analogy. With you spinning in place to attend to all your task, goals, to-do, etc., the center –that’s you— couldn’t hold.
‘Prior‘ means ‘something that comes before.’ Cousin-words like ‘primus‘ (‘first’ in Latin) show up, and the same thread reveals itself in more modern words like primacy, primordial, and primary. A priority — you can make it happen first thing. Several priorities — have to line up. Go for the real priority.
For example: Today I intend to finish the day satisfied by my work and not overly stressed by it.
Versus: I will do all the things (no matter how much they hurt)!
Two: “I’ll make it happen even if it costs me,” is ultimately unhealthy.
In essence: Don’t force things along just to get them done.
Ever get the dizzy feeling every now and then that you just can’t keep doing this –and by this you mean, the anxiety, the frantic pace, the exhaustion and the inability to concentrate or be present for your life?
Then you think about the bills, snort, turn over and try to get back to sleep because you have work to do tomorrow.
You don’t get paid for your pain, or your stresses, or the hours you have to force yourself awake to get to everything on your list. We have been socialized to see our wounds as badges of honor, and brag about how how stressed we’ are because we’re aw, like, so majorly busy. Doing important stuff. And not sleeping.
When you’re so used to pain you barely notice it — in the sense that barely noticing it means brushing it off, denying it and not dealing with it– any relaxation can feel like torture after bearing the stress for so long. It’s much like the pins and needles of returning circulation to a numbed limb. The bonus link below can give you a much needed ray of light in which to examine the way you’re working.
Three: “You don’t understand, I have to do this,” is a false premise.
In essence: You have a choice. Always. Sometimes anxiety and stress makes you forget.
If you believe you can’t, you won’t and so you don’t. You can’t say no? You won’t say no, and so you don’t say no. You plate gets piled with all the stuff you didn’t refuse, and when it slops over, as it inevitably will until you learn to say no, you’ll be stuck cleaning up the mess. Say no to other people’s stuff. That’s their stuff, let them be responsible for it.
Four: “I’ll get it done later tonight,” is an unsustainable practice, unless you’re a natural night owl, and even then, sleep deprivation has serious side-effects.
In essence: Short -term stress fries your brain. Long-term stress fries your brain and your entire system. Whatever your natural biorhythms (morning lark or night owl) get enough sleep so you don’t fry.
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