Sometimes negativity in life can become incredibly overwhelming. Whether it is something or someone at work, a family member, your own health, or just anything that causes you stress – there's plenty to deal with throughout the course of your life. How are we supposed to avoid it when the bad feelings seem to come at us from all directions, especially during this 24-hour news cycle era and information over-saturation?
Well, what if I told you the secret was not to avoid it, but to accept it?
OK to be clear, we're not saying accept everything in your life that makes you unhappy and take it at face value. We're saying to accept the things you don't have control over, which will ultimately help you find peace within yourself.
It can be challenging to figure out what things you do or don’t have control over, so here are some steps for the next time a frustrating situation arises:
- Take a mental step back: You might be in the heat of the moment and invested in your feelings. This is precisely the moment for you to stop and examine your feelings at a distance. When you can “see” your feelings in your mind, you can then examine them and ask yourself, "Do I really have control over this?"
- Go into Instant-Replay: did you hear the person correctly? If the situation happened over email, are you assuming a negative or defensive tone? Don’t assume your first interpretation was the right one. Look within to see why the situation really bothers you and use the opportunity to take stock of yourself and see how you can improve your response.
- Think through all your options and their consequences: If you fire back a negative response, what do you think will likely happen? Does it get you the result you want?
- Put the situation in context: Ask yourself, will this matter in 1 week? 1 month? A year from now?
The reality is, life isn't (and can’t be) smooth sailing. Bad things are going to happen. You will be in situations you find uncomfortable. It is impossible avoid every negative thing that crosses our path. We are not perfect beings and we don't have control over most things that happen to us--except how we react to them. When faced with a stressful situation, we have a choice in how we respond, whether it is in anger, frustration, or with a simple shrug and eyeroll. Instead of working tirelessly to avoid all the things that make us unhappy, what if we accepted that bad things are going to happen and focused instead on choosing a reaction that leaves us more at peace with ourselves and those around us? If it is 100% out of your control, see how you can reduce the situation’s impact on your well-being.Whether you are dealing with a colleague who always shoots down your ideas, or a family member who insists on leaving dirty dishes in the sink (even though the dishwasher is right there!), you can’t change the person or the situation, but you can adjust the amount of energy you expend being frustrated about it. Try spending that energy figuring out how to change your tactics so that your pitched ideas are better received. You can choose to not fight about the dishes because your loved one does other things amazing, so it evens out (hey, no one is perfect!) Being able to reframe and focus on your emotional response will take practice, but once you master it, just think of how much free time you’ll have once you’re not worrying about things you can’t control! Find that inner peace and you’ll accomplish far more than you could ever imagine!