Sometimes life throws us a curve ball. Difficulties come out of left field and catch us off guard. Most of the time, it’s an event that we have no control over. And if you’re like me, someone who hates to feel as though they have no control over a situation, you become frustrated or anxious when something like this happens. It drives me absolutely insane. However, I heard something the other day and haven’t been able to get it out of my head. It basically goes like this:
You might not be able to control the situation, but you sure can control how you respond and react to it. And that’s what determines success.
Think about it. We might not be able to prevent a storm from coming – that part is completely out of our hands. However, we can bring an umbrella. We can wear a rain coat, stay indoors, or say to ourselves, “Man – what a wicked storm!” Perception is everything. Stress is just a product of how we perceive the things that happen to us. So, instead of trying to change something we have no control over, why don’t we change the part we do have control over: our reaction. Why don’t we try to change our perception? Here’s how:
Step 1: Stop
The minute a challenge rears its ugly head, stop in your tracks. Don’t react just yet. Don’t think.
Step 2: Take a deep breath
Breathing decreases tension and anxiety. It promotes relaxation. Take 3 – 4 deep breaths and close your eyes.
Step 3: Acknowledge
Reevaluate the situation. Acknowledge that you had no control over it. Accept this and move on.
Step 4: Positive Reappraisal
Reframe the situation in a more positive light. For example, let’s say that it’s your day off and you’re planning on going to the beach. However, the Weather Channel just told you it’s supposed to storm all day. Instead of thinking, “My day is ruined!” say, “That’s fine. I’ll have a movie marathon instead!” Turn the negatives into positives. Roll with the punches.
Changing our perception of stressful events isn’t a one day process. It takes practice, patience, and acceptance. However, once we do master it, imagine how much better our lives can become.
Written by GUADS staff member Angelina.