I promise, I won’t tell you you need to meditate, or breath or be mindful…..
Recently, I did a presentation for a group of people, discussing stress in business.
But if you don’t have a business - or even work - you can still use this tool - trust me!
You can use it with your kids, your body, your relationship, your confidence, your community roles…..
So basics first….
Stress is a blanket term we use for all kinds of emotions…..Worry, guilt, anxiety, anger, irritation, frustration, dissatisfaction, despair, grief, sadness, loss, hurt, fear, doubt……….
***And we know when stress is present - because it makes us feel a certain way in our bodies***
Think back to a time when you were feeling stressed in someway. Worried about something. Irritated. Too busy.
Now notice how your body feels when you think about that moment.
Does it feel heavy or light?
Tense or relaxed?
How does your stomach and chest feel?
How does your jaw feel?
How would you describe the PHYSICAL FEELING of that emotion?
Where in your body do you feel your emotions?
For example….When I’m feeling stressed, I feel like everything is in fast-forward, I take shallow breaths, my chest feels tight, there’s a knot in my stomach, I sometimes feel empty, or heavy, and noticing a churning in my stomach, I feel snappy and sharp, on edge.
If you’re not sure how you feel in your body….think about how you might describe the physical feeling of an emotion - to someone who hasn’t ever experienced that feeling before.
OK - Now this is super important……..
Whenever you feel that feeling - or something like it - your body’s trying to send you a message.
What’s the message?
…….You know when you’re driving your car and a red light comes on - warning you that something’s wrong.
It’s the same with our bodies.
When we feel that tense, tight, pressured, knotty, sick, stuck, feeling……that’s the warning light on, in our bodies.
It’s telling us we need to pull over and check under the hood.
***What do I mean check under the hood?***
Your hood is your brain, you want to check what you’re thinking, because the only thing thing that’s making you stressed - is the way you’re thinking about things.
Let me say that again.
The ONLY thing that’s making you stressed, is the way you think.
Trust me, I KNOW It seems like the circumstances of our lives make us feel stressed……….
My boss yelling at me
My kids fighting
Having too much to do
Not having enough business coming in the door
Having a super busy home life
And often times - we try to control our circumstances - to get rid of our stress.
That seems like a logical thing to do - Right??
If we look at the list above of stressful things - the solutions seem to be staring us in the face……….
Don’t do things that make the boss yell at me
Tell the kids to stop fighting
Get more organised / hire someone
Work harder / Marketing plan / Network
Drop a few activities
If solving our stress was as simple as taking a few action steps - none of us would have stress!
We’re all smart enough to solve our stress problems - and yet we’re still stressed….
So first of all, I’m not saying you shouldn’t take action - you should.
But there’s something you need to do before you take action……
***You need to work out what you’re THINKING, about the thing you THINK is making you stressed***
Let me introduce you to something Brooke Castillo calls The Model…..
Circumstances create thoughts.
Thoughts create feelings.
Feelings create actions.
Actions give us results.
Personally I love Brooke’s model - because it’s so obvious, clear, and simple to use.
Here’s how it works……
A circumstance is a Fact.
It’s NOT your opinion about things.
My boss yelling at me = Circumstance / Your opinion might be - My boss is an arsehole.
Fighting Children = Circumstance / Your opinion might be - I hate it when they fight
A lot of work to do = Circumstance / Your opinion might be - I’ve got too much to do
Not enough Business = Circumstance / Your opinion might be - How come I can’t do this
Busy home life = Circumstance / Your opinion might be - I’m too busy.
Now most of us jump straight from circumstance to feeling, and we don’t notice the thought in-between - not because we’re not thinking - it’s just that we’re so used to our thoughts, that we don’t need to think about thinking them.
Our thoughts are kind of like the air we breath. They’re invisible and we don’t notice them.
But when we think something, like…….
My boss is an arsehole / I hate it when my kids fight / I’ve got too much to do / How come I can’t do this / I’m too busy…..
Well then we feel things, like……
Resentment, anger, irritation, frustration, ashamed, embarrassed, annoyed, upset, overwhelmed, tired, exhausted, scared, hurt, discouraged, depressed, small, powerless, struggling, self-doubt……
And these feelings fuel the actions we take……..
Bitching about the boss, retelling the story of how unfairly you were treated
Yelling at the kids,
Going over and over the situation that’s upsetting or uncomfortable in your mind
Wishing things were different
Always trying to come up with solutions - thinking, thinking, thinking
Comparing yourself to others
Trying to get more business in the door
Always telling the kids to hurry up - we’ll be late, or hang on a minute I just have to……
Over eating / compulsive eating
Eating take-aways because you can’t be bothered to cook or don’t have time
Treating yourself with wine / cheese / lollies / chocolate netflix,
Staying up late………
And then - you get the results…..
You look like the arsehole for bitching about your boss all the time.
You get stuck living in the past going over and over things.
You yell at the kids - and teach them that yelling the loudest and the scariest is the way to deal with conflict.
You miss things because you’re rushing.
You kick the corner of the table and hurt yourself.
You have great intentions but nothing gets done and you stay stuck in the same situation.
You’re always stuck in your head thinking about your problems, and not really present to the cool stuff in life.
You become someone who’s not so attractive and fun to be around.
You’re neediness for business becomes a repellant and people turn away from your instead of towards you.
Your kids resent being told to hurry up all the time, affecting your relationship with them.
You gain weight.
You don’t feel like exercising.
It’s hard to motivate yourself even though you know what you should be doing
You feel physically horrible.
Oh my lord this is a horrible mess to be in - isn’t it??
And you know what happens then…..?
You have thoughts about the results you’re getting - and then you feel worse
So what do you do if you’re feeling stressed?
The first thing to do - is to sit down and just NOTICE what the heck you’re thinking.
Write it all down. Keep a journal.
***Make it your number one priority each day to be aware of your thoughts***
If you’re unsure what you’re thinking, (and trust me I know it can be a little tricky to work out sometimes). Listen to how you talk about the problem.
What do you say out-loud to others?
If you were going to write me an email to tell me about it - what would you say?
What should other people do?
What do you wish would happen?
What’s the worst part?
What do you really want to say about this?
Sometimes our thoughts are so simple, that we don’t see them,
because our thoughts always seem like the truth to us
Please don’t try to change your thoughts - just focus on noticing them, as if you were exploring your brain.
once you know what you think - start to play with it……
Make yourself your own science project.
Watch yourself in different situations and ask yourself - What do I think about this? How do I feel when I think that - What do I do / how do I treat myself, and others when I feel this way? What kind of results do I get? Is this thinking / action helping me get the results I want?
Notice when your body is telling you to check under the hood and try to observe what you’re thinking.
Notice how it feels to know that you’re not your thoughts
Know that anything you’re thinking that makes you feel terrible - is a lie
Ask yourself if you would want to make your child think this way.
Consider how empowered you’d feel to know that you’re not the general manager of the universe - You are not in control of everything nor do you need to try to be.
Contemplate what it would be like not to have to think the way you do
Think about where your thoughts might be coming from…..our thoughts are almost never original we learn to think in a certain way from others.
Ask yourself if what you’re thinking is bringing you stress or peace,
Consider what might be possible if you didn’t always think this way - is it possible you could get different results?
Ask yourself if you want to keep thinking this way - why or why not?
The more you know about what you’re thinking, the more you examine and consider your thoughts - the better position you’re in to change it……but you have to notice it first.
I promise we’ll get onto the next step in my next blog……
So this weeks homework,
Observe + examine your thoughts!