Tony Robbins has a two step process for handling stress:
-Step 1: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
-Step 2: It’s all small stuff.
Oh Tony, you make it sound so simple. The problem is that when I'm worked up about something, it doesn't feel small. In the moment, it feels really big.
When you're already late for an appointment and traffic is worse than anticipated? Frustrating. When a friend, coworker or even stranger does or says something to piss you off? Infuriating. When you read that email announcing that your kids won't be returning to school in the fall? Exasperating. When you're passed over for that job or promotion, or laid off? Heartbreaking.
It's hard to have perspective in the moment. Why? Because from our perspective, our world IS the world. So things tend to look a whole lot bigger than they really are. Especially these days- in the midst of a global pandemic with an enormously important election ~80 days away. Everything is amplified right now.
So, rather than telling myself not to sweat it (because when does telling myself not to do something actually work?), I try to reframe the situation. Do I have any control over it? If yes, then I'll zoom IN and focus on my behavior. How can I make this better? What could I have done differently? How do I avoid this from happening again?
If I don't have any control over the stressor, I try to zoom OUT and adjust my attitude. How does this compare with other challenges I've faced before? Will this matter tomorrow, next week, next year? Can I look beyond this situation in order to remember how blessed I truly am?
I'm over-simplifying it, of course (guilty, just like Tony). Sometimes changing my behavior or attitude diffuses the situation within minutes or hours. Other times, it takes days, weeks or even months. And occasionally, no amount of behavior or attitude adjustment makes a difference, and I just have to get through it.
But changing my perspective often helps, because perspective is power. No matter how big or small something actually is, I still get to choose how I let it affect my life.
My guess is that there are at least a few things in your life that aren't going as planned right now. That's okay; it's totally normal. Or maybe you feel as though everything is effed up and you're totally overwhelmed. That's okay, too; you're not alone.
Either way, I challenge you to take a deep breath, pick a pain point and reframe it. Do you actually have control over it? Depending on your answer, how can you change your behavior or attitude to bring a little relief? Start small and give yourself a quick win. I believe in you, and know that deep down you do, too.
Tony Robbins was wrong
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