Posts Tagged ‘w4cy’


How many of you would like to live a stress-free life? I’m guessing it would be quite a few. Most people I know view stress as a negative experience. Yet like any emotion, it doesn’t have to prove detrimental to our health or overall well-being.

Stress is actually less complicated than one may believe. Like anger, it is only a symptom of a deeper issue. And like anger, there can be thousands of triggers but only a handful of root causes. Stress is defined as “a state of being characterized by feelings of physical, emotional, or mental tension”. The true causes of stress lie not in what is occurring around us but rather by what is taking place within us. All emotions, of which stress is one, originate internally. Consider the following internal origins of stress:

Fear: Feelings of worry, anxiety, concern, and apprehension all contribute to an individual feeling stressed out. We worry about finding a good job, moving to another city, losing our spouse or being alone. Each time we anticipate a negative circumstance we generate feelings of uncertainty. And fear of the unknown is one of life’s greatest causes of distress. Do you struggle with the What If Syndrome? What if I get lost? What if my husband gets cancer? What if the plane crashes and I die? What if my child doesn’t get into the college of his choice? Or what if he does and I can’t afford the tuition? We project the worst possible outcome and proceed to worry over things that may never manifest.

Fear is a lack of trust in a situation, another person, ourselves or God. In a situation, we may feel unsafe, such as sky diving for the first time. This is a dangerous sport. I could be seriously injured. Or we may fear others – a person is perceived as untrustworthy, a threat to our security and well-being. A jealous co worker has the potential to get me fired. There is also a lack of trust in ourselves – we lack confidence in our abilities to handle whatever situations life presents to us. I could never survive the loss of a child. And finally and most importantly, fear is a lack of trust in God. We question our understanding of Him: if He really is a loving God, why do bad things keep happening to me? I pray for healing every day and still I suffer with chronic back pain.

Solution: The way to overcome fear is two-fold. On a practical level: by building our self-confidence, in part, by reminding ourselves of everything we have faced, survived, and overcome thus far in life. On a spiritual level: by exercising our faith in God, knowing that He never promised that life would be easy nor fair, only that He would never abandon us, that whatever we truly needed (not just wanted) would be provided for us, and that if we followed His directive we would reap abundant blessings. Just look around you – everything you need is all ready here.

Frustration: Feelings of anxiety derived from the need to control a situation or individual lead to anxiety. When people don’t behave in a manner I deem appropriate, when they won’t comply with my wishes or demands, or when a situation does not proceed as I anticipated, I feel helpless and powerless. Being out of control causes apprehension within me as I realize something or someone else is determining the outcome of this situation and/or possibly my life. I do not trust anyone enough to give them power and authority over me nor do I want to leave my fate up to chance. I do not believe that either has my best interest at heart.

Solution: When I realize that control is an illusion (I have zero control over situations and/or others) and recognize that whatever enters my life is ultimately there for my higher good*, then I do not need to have the final say in how life reveals itself to me. I can relax and be more at ease, knowing that I have full dominion over how I maximize every experience I participate in. I choose how I think, feel, react to, and utilize each and every occurrence. I can transform any perceived negative situation into a positive simply by my internal choices and how I express them.

Perception: How we choose to see things, events or people defines our reality. Our perception is not determined by the actuality of our experience but rather by the thoughts we form about them. Here’s an example: the reality: I’ve told my children dozens of times to keep their rooms clean yet every time I check on them they are a disaster by my standards. My perception: They do this just to drive me crazy! The truth is that most children are not concerned with the order of their rooms. Messy is their normal. A simple shift in my perception can instantly alleviate my stress. They’re just being kids. They’ll eventually learn, I hope. And if not, it’s really not that important.”Life isn’t about truth and reality; life is all about perception.” – Janet Pfeiffer

Solution: Perception can be changed at any given moment. One only needs to re examine their thought process. Am I being fair and reasonable in the way I see myself, others or the world in general? Am I being judgmental and/or arrogant? I can remove labels from myself and others or modify them to be more understanding and realistic. In this way, when I adjust my perception (how I choose to view others and situations) I can reduce or eliminate stress and replace it with a sense of calm.

Expectations: We all have expectations that we place on others and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, many times what we are seeking from others is unfair or unrealistic. When our demands are not met, for whatever reason, we become stressed, angry, and disappointed. But is it realistic to expect that my husband have the same interest in music as I do? Is it reasonable to think I can work a full-time job, raise my children, and care for my elderly parents on my own, and do it all really well? Do I have a right to dictate to others what they should think, feel, believe, or how they should act? Is it reasonable to expect that what I am seeking in an given situation would manifest in the time frame I’ve allotted, in the exact manner in which I desire it considering all relevant factors?

We demand a lot of ourselves and live in an age where multitasking and workaholism (that’s not a real word but you know what I mean) are considered virtues. When we fall short of those ideals we label ourselves as failures. Likewise, we place an excessive amount of pressure on others to conform to what we believe is right and/or acceptable. We impose our beliefs, lifestyles, interests, work ethics, etc. on our families, friends, coworkers, and others and when they do not comply we become frustrated and angry.

Solution: While it is useful and reasonable to have some expectations in life, we must be careful to make certain that they are in alignment with reality and are fair and just to all concerned. If they are extraordinarily high or unreasonable, we are inviting stress into our minds and bodies. Eliminate any demands that are unnecessary, readjust those that are unfair, and take a kinder more gentle approach to life. Remind yourself that life and those in it are not meant to conform to your dictates. Embrace what works for you and gently relinquish that which doesn’t. Allow life and others to simply be.

In conclusion: If you want less stress in your life, it is not always necessary to change your circumstances (although that may be a viable option). Sometimes, a simple shift in perception (how we view things) or an adjustment in our expectations (being more realistic and fair-minded) can make all the difference in the world. Remember, if you can’t change the world, change how you view it and how you interact with it. You will be much more relaxed and peaceful, able to more fully enjoy life in all its wonder and glory. And isn’t that a worthy goal?

People and events that contradict my ideals will always be a part of my life. By addressing the underlying causes of stress and living a faith-based life coupled with the wisdom to fully embrace every situation I experience, I can approach each day with greater peace and composure thereby significantly reducing the amount of stress that enters my life. And a peace-filled lifestyle supports a joy-filled existence.

*Q: “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
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We’ve all blamed others for how we feel at times. “You really make me angry!” “You hurt my feelings!””You totally embarrassed me!” Most people don’t realize that by allowing others to push our buttons and determine how we feel, we actually give away our personal power. Others decide for us how we will feel at any given moment. When I view myself as one without power (the ability to determine my own state of being) I see myself as a victim – one who is incapable of making choices for themselves. I assign that responsibility to another giving the power to determine my level of happiness, joy, love, esteem, despair, misery, rage and so forth. For me, that is something I am not at all comfortable with. I am a fully functioning adult and am capable of choosing for myself just how happy or miserable I want to be.

Anger progresses in what I refer to as the Three A’s of Anger: Annoyed (the mildest form), Anger (more intense), and Aggression (out-of-control hostility and/or violence). Certainly, the mildest form is the easiest to rectify and correct. However, at the onset, many people do not address it and allow their feelings to escalate to the more severe stages. Letting others to bring us to the point where we are deeply upset or out of control is dangerous. Emotions dictate our actions and those who are enraged most typically make really poor choices, the kind that can deeply impact themselves and those around them. Therefore, it is critical that one be acutely aware of what is going on around them at all times, particularly what others are saying and/or doing, so as to monitor and choose their own feelings rather than permit others to dictate them.

Even though people can behave in an annoying, aggravating, obnoxious, or disrespectful manner, we still have the ability to prevent any and all of them from pushing our buttons and getting us angry. We can accomplish this by considering the following factors:

First: It is critical to understand that all feelings are the direct result of what we think. All emotions, including anger, come from thoughts. Throughout the day, we have hundreds or possibly thousands of experiences. In each event, we form a corresponding thought. I look outside my window and think, “My yard needs a lot of work. I hate doing yard work/I’m really looking forward to working outside today. ” The phone rings and I say to myself, “That’s my son calling from college. I can’t wait to hear his voice/I wonder what he wants now, he’s always asking for something.” My internal dialogue, the voice in my head, AKA my thoughts, generate a particular feeling. I can feel depressed over the condition of my yard or angry that my husband hasn’t taken care of it. Or I can look forward to making it look presentable again. I may be ecstatic over the thought of hearing my child’s voice or dread it knowing he only calls asking for money. Either way, I decide how I want to feel. A simple change of thought (internal voice) changes the emotion I experience. Positive thoughts generate positive emotions. Negative begets negative.* The truth about what is occurring is irrelevant. It is only my perception that matters, how I choose to view it. Knowing this simple principle allows me to be the master of my life – I alone dictate what I think and therefore how I’ll feel. My anger, or happiness, is within my choosing.

Be aware, too, of the labels we place on others for they are judgments and judgments are thoughts. I can label a cranky coworker as difficult and uncooperative (leaving me disgusted and irate) or see them as troubled or unhappy (causing feelings of compassion and understanding to surface). Their behavior can be problematic for me or not, based entirely on what thoughts I form about them.

Secondly: Remain emotionally detached. Many people take personal offense to what others are saying or doing. Few realize that one’s behavior (their words or actions) are a reflection of them not you. Behavior is an external expression of what one is dealing with internally. Someone who finds fault with everything about you may be communicating their insecurities or unhappiness which are totally unrelated to you. For example, someone who is disrespectful reveals their judgmentalism, declaring that you are not worthy of reverence by their standards. An angry individual is conveying their hurt, fear or frustration disguised as outrage. They may be unaware of what they are truly feeling and anger is their default emotion with you as their direct target. (This is not acceptable and one can certainly impose boundaries in a situation such as this.)

While first learning how to remain emotionally detached, I recommend envisioning a large clear glass partition between you and the other party. Whatever offenses the other is spewing cannot penetrate the glass and impact you. As with water, their behaviors remain on their side leaving you protected from its effects. Or you can view the entire experience as them being actors on a stage: you are simply an audience to their performance and therefore are not directly impacted by what is transpiring.

One can also adopt the approach of emergency responders in the face of tragedy: they do not react emotionally. They view the situation objectively while keeping their feelings in check so as to best assist those in need. One need not assign a feeling to every event that is occurring. Some things can simply be what they are. Rain is just rain. It doesn’t have to evoke a negative feeling. One can easily adjust how they are going to plan their day under their “wetter” circumstances.

As I mentioned earlier, behavior is an external expression of what one is dealing with internally. This also applies to those feelings we deem positive: one who is cheerful may be expressing their gratitude or joy for the many blessings in their life at that time. Keep in mind that each of us must own our unique actions and feelings. They belong solely to us.

Thirdly: It is critically important that in order to avoid taking personal offense one needs to fully know and appreciate themselves. Therefore, if your feelings are easily hurt, if you find yourself blaming others for how you feel, take some time and work on building a stronger sense of self. Know your inherent goodness. Recognize your attributes and strengths that God has blessed you with and develop them to their fullest capacity. Conversely, be willing to identify your weaknesses and flaws. Take full ownership for them rather than hold others accountable. Refrain from blame. Put forth a sincere effort to correct any faulty thinking patters, judgments of others, faults and flaws that you may be ashamed of or that are interfering with the quality of your life. Those attitudes and actions that do not authentically represent who you really are need to be rectified. Openly admit to your shortcomings rather than try to hide or deny them. Realize that while we are all intrinsically perfect creations of a perfect Supreme Being, we are also comprised of a human component that struggles with personal issues and imperfections. Only through our acknowledgement and willingness to grow can be become the confident, self-loving people God created us to be. There is no shame in not liking the way we behave but we can still love our inner beauty as well.

Being able to disagree with others, listen to criticism or negative comments about ourselves is only possible when one truly knows and loves themselves. Other people’s opinions of us do matter: each has value as they serve to help us better know who we are or how we are perceived by the world. (This has a direct impact on our relationships and successes/failures in life.) However, my worth is not dependent on other’s opinions of me. God has already predetermined my value and that is my only measure of worth. Other’s comments pertaining to my attitudes or behaviors can help me better understand how I am presenting myself to others. In this regard, I may need to reconsider how I treat people and make the necessary adjustments in order to better get along with everyone. This can be incredibly helpful in all of my relationships.

Summary: Remember that you are the master of your life. You have free will and intellect. You and you alone determine whether or not you be will angry or happy. No one can push your buttons and make you angry; no one has the ability to make you feel anything including anger. It’s all in your head, or more accurately, your thoughts.

Q: “Choose your thoughts wisely. They determine the outcome of your life. Remember: Where your mind goes your life follows.”

*See TECO Magic in The Secret Side of Anger
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It’s difficult for a lot of people to communicate with each other effectively. Unless you’re a recluse, communication is something we all do every day. Perhaps because I’m a motivational speaker, author, and radio host, I can talk ad infinitum. I actually find it enjoyable and relatively easy. Yet there is a significant difference between talking and communicating: talking requires only one person, communication includes at least one additional person. Although everyone may be speaking the same language, it’s not uncommon to become frustrated and angry with each other while dialoguing.
Communication is a skill most of us were not taught as children. Granted, we’ve all learned to assemble words in a coherent manner to convey a thought or make a statement. I politely instruct my husband to put the empty ice cream container in the garbage rather than in the sink yet somehow the package consistently needs my assistance in the morning. Either he doesn’t hear me (I don’t think so) or doesn’t understand my request (I seriously doubt that) or he’s not interested in granting my request (more likely).

Misunderstandings and miscommunication can easily lead to frustration and anger. However, being able to converse effectively involves not only a series of well constructed verbal expressions but equally as important are proficient listening skills. Without both, our levels of tolerance decrease significantly while frustration (a root cause of anger) begins to rise, lending itself to angry outbursts. Here are ten skills that will make communication significantly easier and more rewarding.

1. Customize your style. Readjust your level and style of speaking in such a way that the other party can relate to it. I speak differently to my grandchildren than I do to my children. Likewise, my style of conversing is altered when addressing the CEO of AT&T to discuss an upcoming training I’m about to conduct. Know the other party and adjust your style so that they can more easily relate to you and comprehend your message. Use common terms easily recognizable by the majority.

2. Be crystal clear and detail-specific. Carefully choose words and phrases that are easily understood. Itemize and list every detail to every component of the conversation in a clear, organized, and concise manner. There’s a news commentator that tries to be clever and poetic. I am always at a loss for what he is saying. I feel confused and frustrated when listening to him. When discussing a contract with a new client, I am extremely attentive while explaining my services in great detail so there is no question as to what I will and will not provide. Miscommunication leads to a host of problems including improperly completed tasks, hurt feelings, frustration and anger, lawsuits, missed opportunities and much more.

3. Be brief. When I’m with my best friends, Arlene or Michelle, we can talk for hours. With my husband his attention span is significantly shorter. Each individual has a point at which they lose interest or are unable to process any more information. Be mindful and keep your discussions brief when necessary. This is particularly true during conflict resolution sessions.

4. Non verbal communication speaks volumes. In fact, 85% worth. Make certain your body and mouth are working in harmony with one another. Pay close attention to the other party’s non verbal messages as well. Know when they are engaging with you or not. Pay attention to any indication that they are becoming agitated or disconnecting mentally and make the necessary readjustments.

5. Repeat back to the other person what you think you heard them say. We each hear things through the filters of our life experiences and beliefs. “So, what I heard you say is that you will take the garbage out after you’ve completed your homework?” In that way, I am allowing the other person the opportunity to correct any misunderstanding immediately. Ask questions to gain greater clarity if necessary.

6. Listen with the intent to understand. Too often, while the other person is speaking we are already formulating our response. Carefully digest each word they are saying. Ask questions if necessary to gain further clarity on what they are saying. Pause. Then thoughtfully respond.

7. Be a good listener. Too often, communication results in one person talking at the other rather than with. Listening is an art. Communication is a sharing of thoughts, feelings, and needs between all persons involved. Active listening sends a message to the other party that they matter to you; that what they have to say is important; that you value them and the message they want to convey. Be an engaged listener; don’t interrupt or disconnect. Pay attention and give them ample time to speak.

8. Always speak with kindness and respect. No one needs to earn respect. It is a God-given birth right bestowed upon each of us. Use both kindness and respect generously. They will serve you well. Practice my exclusive Heart/Brain Communication technique: hear with your ears, think with your brain, and feel with your heart (compassion) before responding.

9. Practice polite honesty. Most people prefer that you be honest with them. However, one can be crude and hurtful with their words or thoughtful and sensitive. Consider how your words may impact the other person. Remember, there are multiple ways of saying the same thing. Carefully consider all options and chose the one that is most respectful.

10. Disagree with dignity. Very often when individuals discuss issues it is clear that they each hold different opinions. Remember that your role is not to convince the other party to agree with you nor to prove them wrong. Respect them enough to appreciate their different point of view even though you don’t share it. Acknowledge their position as equally as valid to them as yours is to you. Then move on.

Communication is a skill we all need to master and when accomplished can make our interactions with others much less stressful and far more rewarding. A few simple techniques can make all the difference in the world. We all have enough stress in our lives. Let’s make our conversations with one another a joyful and effortless experience. And throw in a smile for good measure. It regulates your attitude.

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

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