Change, Control, or Let Go!
My view on life changed when I turned 50; I no longer cared what other people thought about me. I became more internally focused. Seven years later at the age of 57, I realized that although I have let go of the stress of other people’s opinions, I have had to deal with other stressors.
When I was younger it was easy to say that age was just a number, and that I would age gracefully, let my hair turn gray, and wear my wrinkles proudly. Of course my hair was a lot less gray, and I had a lot less wrinkles.
I now color my hair and keep my skin hydrated, and realize that age may be a number but that number has some meaning. I have a lot of energy but no longer can I stay out until 3:00 AM and get up for work at 7:00 AM.
One of the first stress management techniques I learned years ago was to Change, Control or Let Go of stressful situations. I didn’t realize that some of those stressors would change, as I got older. I now know that to stress out about age only creates more stress, because whether I want to or not I will keep getting older, and the more I stress out about it the more wrinkles I’ll get and the more uptight I’ll look. I was able to manage some of that stress by acknowledging that I can control how I age, and that I can choose to worry about it or I can enjoy my experience.
I can stay healthy by taking care of myself, so I start my day with a few minutes of meditation, and go to the gym, run or walk at 6:30 AM.
I keep up with changes in our society, listen to different kinds of music, still love to dance. I spend time with people who are much younger than me and people who are a lot older than me.
There are times when I feel like the invisible older person, but I remind myself that I can control my attitude, and my viewpoint, so I choose to be the wise, hip, 57 year old who has a lot of experiences, and knowledge to share, and teach those who came after me. I’m also not afraid to admit past and present mistakes, and that there is much to learn from younger generations.
I’ve also learned from mistakes, adversity and the challenges in my life. If like me you have spent too much time trying to control other people, places and events you know how much time and energy you can waste and how stressed out you can get.
Of course not all stressors are the same. Some, like people interrupting you all the time, you can control. You can let the interrupters know you are busy and don’t have time to talk. Having been on this earth for over 55 years, I realize that my time is valuable and I don’t need to waste time with conversations that don’t interest me, or let other people have power over my time.
Other stresses, like rush hour traffic, are usually beyond your control. But there are some things about rush hour traffic that you can personally change which may help; taking a different route, for example, or traveling at a different time. Of course, these changes are not always possible. In that case, you have to change your attitude about the situation, in order to lessen the stress. You can listen to music or educational CDs or MP3s. Rush hour traffic won’t seem as frustrating because you’ll be doing something to help keep your mind off the traffic and other drivers. In order to let go of commute stress, you have to accept the situation. You must accept that you cannot control the traffic, no matter how much you yell and gesture at other drivers to speed up. A stressful commute can ruin your whole day, don’t let it! Accept that, if you are unable to change your route, or your time of travel, you are powerless over everything on the road, with the exception of your car and your attitude. Control your attitude, let go of the traffic, and you can control your stress! Blast your music and let other people have their nervous breakdown over traffic. You’ve earned the right.
You can learn to manage a great deal of your stress by asking looking at each stressor and asking yourself “Can I control it, can I change it, or do I need to learn to let it go?
We don’t need to spend time worrying about things over which we have no control and have no energy left to control the things we can.
The people we try to control go home, or simply ignore us, barely giving us a thought. That’s why it is so easy to build up resentments against other people in situations or jobs when we don’t think we have much control. On the job, it impedes productivity and healthy teamwork. People tend to blame other people. If you are stressed out because of others, it’s important to go through the steps of control, change and letting go. Unless you are ready to leave your job, family, or the planet earth, chances are you will continue working or being around the “stressful people.” Ask yourself if the other person is actually a “stress carrier,” or simply has a different style.
Letting go is a process. It takes time, and doesn’t always happen at once just because we will it. We have to use our thoughts to control our emotions and our actions. Remind yourself that there are people and events you cannot control. All you can control is your attitude and your reactions. Its possible to change your self talk about the situation. Identify which stresses you can control, take appropriate action, and learn to let go of the things you can’t.
Pick something in your life that stresses you out. Can you control it? If so, what can you do? Can you change it? If so, how? Perhaps you can only change or control a part of it. Do you need to let it go? If so, what can you do in order to let go?
You can view life as unexpected and exciting or your can view it as scary because you don’t know what the future holds. Take charge; take control or let it go. The choice is yours!
Simma Lieberman helps her clients create more profitable cultures, and improve their performance. She consults, speaks and writes about Diversity and Inclusion, Inclusive Diversity Dialogues, and Power Living. Call Simma at 510-527-0700 or email Simma@SimmaLieberman.com to find out how she can help you or your organization. Visit her website www.simmalieberman.com for additional tips and articles.