We face stress because we face negative situations in our daily life. It can be either fight with spouse, mess created by kids, long lecture from boss or really bad traffic. There are many other small situations due to which we lose our peace of mind. I believe that there are two ways to reduce stress, either change all the situations which upset us or change our attitude towards those negative events. It is really difficult to change all the situations as we cannot control everyone in this world. The only person we can control is our self.
Then the question came, if I could change myself then I could have done it long back. Why would I wait for years to change myself? Or why would I wait for this article to get published to do some magic? You are correct. It is very difficult to change our mind, but it is not impossible. This article does not have any miracle steps which will reduce your stress overnight. This article is more about reflection on our attitude, our reaction and our thought process. I believe that we can heal ourselves from chronic stress only if we start understanding our mind’s behavior in day to day situations. Today we will look at negative conversation.
Reflection – It is a great exercise which we should do daily or at least weekly. What we do here is that, we take a pause for some moments and reflect on what happened during the day or a week with us and how we reacted towards it. This helps to identify as how we have spent our time and what could be the learning from it. Or it could just mean to cherish happy moments. We will use this for one of conversation where we felt stress. This could be anything, but today let’s look at the common situation of office scenario where you faced criticism from your boss or a colleague. This is a very stressful scenario as no one likes criticism.
Now, most of us would react in two ways in it. We either start cursing our boss for all the bad quality he has or we start feeling lack of self-esteem. Both ways we feel bad, but we miss the main message which our boss is trying to tell us about our performance. We immediately start feeling negative about the opposite person or about ourselves. We start getting thoughts like, “How can he say like that to me? Or How can I perform so badly,” “He himself does not know many things and he is giving me lecture” or “I am the most stupid person in this office”. Our chattering mind gives fuels our stress by providing many negative thoughts. Now, the problem is that we don’t realize these thoughts, but instead we feel the negativity that has arisen due to thoughts. We need to realize the real cause of feeling bad. It is not our boss or our lack of performance, but our thoughts. You can choose any situation of your life, but at this stage just think what exactly happened and how your mind reacted towards it.
Acceptance – We try to run away from the situation we do not like. This creates more stress as our one part of mind says that this is the current reality and other part of mind does not want to face it. This inner war creates hundreds of thoughts within short span of time. The best way is to first accept the reality as it is. Accept that your boss is giving you some negative feedback without taking it personally. This will reduce your stress to a great extent. Now there is no war and there is only one pattern of thought is going in your mind.
Acceptance does not mean that you accept that are bad at work, but accepting the current situation as a reality. What I am trying to say is to stay in the present moment and don’t surrender yourself to your chattering mind. Instead of reacting, listen to what feedback you are getting. Many times I have experienced that when you accept the situation, you get new insights about yourself or about other people. Like in this scenario, you might first time listen to what are your drawbacks are or you might realize that you need to change your boss’s perspective. When you are calm from inside you can put your points in much better way. Both ways you will get benefit, but this will only happen if you practice acceptance.
Reaction – We all wait for our turn to come or many times we don’t even wait. We just want to speak and want to say I am right and you are wrong. Do you think that we never make mistakes and it is always other person’s fault? Even if we didn’t make mistakes, is there any harm to listen to other person’s point of view? Why do we forget that everyone is different and everyone has their own perspective? Different perspective does not make you right or wrong. Listen to what other person is saying without taking it personally and you will not lose your peace of mind. What we need to do is respond and not react. This may turn in your favor most of the time as you are responding with calm mind and you can put forward your points without getting into arguments. For, e.g. you can tell your boss the reason as why the issue happened. It can be due to lack of resources or some genuine concern or may be your lack of motivation. Calm conversations always gets the right thing on the table and then finding the solution is easy.
Stress is nothing but series of negative thoughts which makes us restless as that is not our ideal nature. We are supposed to be calm and happy and hat is why many people spend their entire life in search of peace.