01 Jul Keep the Big Things Big and the Little Things Little
Chances are at some point this week you’ll find yourself getting frustrated, cross, anxious, or upset (this may not sound terribly motivational for a Monday morning, but bear with me!)
When it happens (and maybe it already has), press pause. Take a mental step back from the situation and ask yourself “𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦?”
The last few months have given us all cause to reflect on what’s important to us, but under pressure it’s all too easy for these things to get lost. We know our health is important, but we’re too busy to prioritise self-care; we treasure those closest to us but they drive us crazy (particularly if you’re trying to school them, work alongside them in a confined space or look after them from afar); we want to spend quality time with those who are important to us but instead we’re distracted or busy.
Now more than ever, everyone’s emotions are running a little higher. Our brains love structure, stability and certainty and in the current situation all of these are in short supply; our stress-response is primed (if not already on over-drive) and our minds are trying to compute 1001 different versions of the future before breakfast all whilst being a tech-guru, maths genius and trying to predict the weather for the next time we venture out.
Our stress response is brilliant at keeping us safe from clear and present danger (think sabre-toothed tigers) but when we’re primed for fight and flight we aren’t the best versions of ourselves – we’re not thinking straight. Our ability to problem-solve, make decisions, remember things and think rationally are all diminished. Empathy and logic take a side-line and our ability to see the wider picture diminishes. We may do or say things we later regret, procrastinate or let our minds tie themselves in knots of worry that later seems illogical despite having been so real at the time.
Our emotions give us data, they tell us that something is important and we need to take notice of it. When you feel like your stress response is kicking in or when you’re feeling those uncomfortable emotions such as frustration, guilt, anger then press pause and check in.
Breathe. Ask yourself:
𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘦 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦?
𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘥𝘰 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵?
𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘨𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘱𝘧𝘶𝘭?
Get perspective. Stress is rather like standing with your nose to the rock face that you’re trying to climb – your view and your options are very limited. Step backwards and look at the whole picture.
-Is the outcome of this situation still going to be important in an hour/ a day/ a week/ a month?
– Is this a big thing that you need to do something about or is it a little thing that can be put to one side?
– Is this a worry that you need to actively address to give yourself more information or control or one you need to acknowledge and then let go?
– Is there a principle at stake or just differing points of view?
What do you want from this situation, for you and for anyone else involved? What’s in your control about the situation – is there action you can take to influence it or is it something beyond your control where the most helpful response is acceptance – not liking it, just letting it be what it is.
By pressing pause, you give yourself a chance to respond rather than to react, and most importantly, you get to choose that response.
“𝘉𝘦𝘵𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘶𝘭𝘶𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘴𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘦. 𝘐𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘰𝘮 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘱𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘦. 𝘐𝘯 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘸𝘵𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘰𝘮.”
Knowing what you’re trying to achieve and what’s important helps to ensure that you’re moving in the right direction – you’re acting in line with your values and your outcomes and whatever unfolds, you’ve brought your best self to the situation.
This week, keep stepping back and giving yourself that sense of perspective. With it comes a sense of control as you see the choices available. Above all, keep your eye and your mind on the big things.
Stay safe, keep well, be kind