Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Regaining control - the steps to take

‘It isn't your mistakes that make you a failure. It’s not learning from them.’

Have you ever stopped to wonder why? Why is it that our children continue to do things that drive us crazy? Why do our partners do irritating things that at times make us want to scream? Why do people you work with seem to make it their life’s work to be obnoxious?

In essence, why is it that people continue to make the same mistakes over and over again by repeating bad behaviour? Are they really doing it just to make our lives miserable – you’ll find in most cases, probably not.

Are they making the same mistakes over and over, or are we the ones making the same mistakes by reacting in the same way each time it happens? I seem to come up against the same irritations in my life on a re-occurring basis and it frustrates the hell out of me.

In truth, these irritations have been happening for so long that I know they’re not going to change. Individuals have to want to change the problem and if they don’t see it as the same irritation that I do then it’s inevitable that they will never change.

What this means is that it’s me that has to change, ergh! – this being the hardest feat of all. It’s much easier to assume that another person should change their behaviour rather than looking within and adapting our own behaviour, especially when I don’t believe that my behaviour needs to change.

I’m not talking about simple things like wet towels on the bedroom carpet or dirty dishes on the desk in the bedroom, while these are annoying problems and raise stress levels they’re not ‘biggies’. I’m talking about things that really do matter, well things that matter to me and which I find important.

Instead of getting irritated, annoyed and stressed beyond belief, I need to find a way to either accept the problem, ignore the problem or not let it have control over me any more. This is me regaining control of the situation and not letting it control me.

This is a fantastic theory and I know it’s what I should do, or in fact need to do. But, how do I go about not letting it get to me. These options came from the Help Guide – Stress Management.

Below are some that I think will work for me, but there are heaps more on the website that may suit others.

Reframe problems - Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favourite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.
Look at the big picture - Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
Adjust your standards - Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”
Focus on the positive - When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.
Don’t try to control the uncontrollable - Many things in life are beyond our control— particularly the behaviour of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.
Look for the upside - As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.
Share your feelings - Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.
Learn to forgive - Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.

I plan on giving some of these options a go to see if I can lessen the frustrating moments (people) in my life – and before you tell me that I should be removing stressful people from my life – I can’t, they’re family and despite their irritating and thoughtless behaviour I do love them.
I live in a houseful of males, so frustration and irritation are regular visitors to our house.

How about you? What (or who) frustrates you beyond belief?

Note: I wote this post earlier today and then came home to see the devastation of the earthquake in Christchurch on television - so maybe I don't have that much to stress about when compared with this tragedy.

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