What You Can Do In a Time Like This

There’s two things I share with my clients that can really tick them off. And I get it. I was ticked off too when I first learned them. But if you hear me out, the bad news comes with some seriously good silver lining.

And I think that we are all due for some silver lining.

The first is this: Stress is your choice.

No one really likes hearing this. And they buck it by saying things like,

“I did not choose this situation!”

“I did not choose to get stuck at home!”

“I did not choose to be financially strapped!”

“I did not choose to have the refrigerator break down among all these other shenanigans!”

“I did not choose for him to hurt me!”

Of course not. Of course you did not choose those things. No one chooses inconvenient, troublesome, or bad things to happen.

But you do choose how you respond to them.

You choose if you are overwhelmed or alert. You choose if you are feeling fear or managed concern. You choose if you are in scarcity mode or if you are feeling faithful. You choose if you are freaking out or composed.

Especially right now it can feel like there is exactly nothing that is under your control, but you always, always have ultimate control over how you respond to life’s events.

Here’s the silver lining: stress is your choice, but if you’re the problem, you’re also the solution.

Now here’s the second thing that ticks my clients off: You are responsible for your own emotions.

There’s some nuance to this one that takes people a minute to catch on before they get ticked. Then they say things like,

“But if I choose to be calm, it won’t change the situation!"

“But if I choose to be grateful and in the moment, things won’t get done!”

“But if I choose to feel appreciative, it won’t put more money in the bank!”

“But if I choose to go with the flow, the fridge won’t fix itself!”

“But if I choose forgiveness, he won’t change!”

Maybe these things are right. Maybe.

Maybe having a positive emotional response won’t change the situation. But, I have 3 questions for you.

Question #1: Is a negative emotional response going to solve the problem?

Question #2: Have you ever experienced a situation where your negative emotional response made the situation worse?

Question #3: If negative emotional responses can make situations worse, couldn’t positive emotional responses make situations better?

Here’s the silver lining: you are responsible for your own emotions, but those emotions can positively influence the situation.

Imagine having a difficult conversation with someone and you’re upset, unforgiving, judge-y, and accusing. How’s that going to go? Not well.

Now imagine having the same difficult conversation with someone, but this time you’re calm and composed, speaking from the heart, empathetically and kindly. I think the results of that conversation are going to be different, right?

In both scenarios the difficult conversation took place. But it’s the outcome that was different.

Right now with this pandemic situation, you can feel helpless and out of control, like there’s nothing you can do to change the situation.

But imagine if everyone on the planet were freaking out right now. (That’s easy to imagine.)

And now, imagine if everyone was calm and composed.

Like it or not, this situation is happening. A virus is going around, and the entire globe is affected. But the outcome is going to be determined by how we handle it. If our negative emotional response can make things worse, why can’t our positive emotional response make things better?

Where in your life are you choosing stress?

What positive emotions can you choose instead?

What situations are worse because of your negative emotional response?

How can choosing positive emotions influence the situations in a positive way?

Here’s to Conquering Stress,

The Stress Experts

Practical Strategies to Deal With Daily Stressors

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