Managing Stress & Reclaiming Control

May 16, 2018

 

How do you show up in times of stress?

 

Whether it’s at work or in life, we all want to be that person who remains calm, respectful and wise when we face difficult situations.

 

You can probably think of a time or two when you didn’t react the way you wanted to.

 

That was me last night.

 

The Polished Speaker was sponsoring a networking event at a cool little gallery in a nearby town. We plan these events weeks in advance, so imagine my surprise when the weather turned dark and the downpour started.  The lightening flashed and there were even tornado warnings.

 

Tornado warnings!??

 

As I drove to the gallery to set up, I could barely see the road ahead. My wipers just couldn’t keep up and visibility was dangerously low.  White knuckle driving, as they say. I’m not normally a nervous driver, but I was afraid.

 

So here is when things got ugly.

 

I started to feel sorry for myself. I convinced myself that no one would show up to an event that I have been planning for weeks. I mean, who could blame them?

 

That’s when the cascade of “poor me” thoughts began bubbling up.  I cursed the sky and the absurdity of this storm happening right then. Why tonight?

 

Plus, I was seriously worried about driving off the road. There were plenty of cars whizzing by in the opposite direction and my palms started to sweat as I gripped the wheel.

 

I was consumed by disappointment and fear.

 

That’s when a question popped into my head. It’s a question I use to help my clients get unstuck.

 

“Who do I need to BE for this situation not to bother me?”

 

Notice that the question is NOT “What do I need to DO?”  It’s “Who do I need to BE?”

 

We can choose who we want to be and how we respond at any given moment.

 

It’s rare that I take my own advice, but I decided to give it a try.  Here’s what I came up with:

 

For this situation not to bother me:

 

I need to be the kind of person that stays calm and thinks clearly; who trusts myself to handle this; who lets go of needing the night to be perfect; who can laugh at the situation and make the most of it; who is brave and positive; who remembers to take deep breaths to slow down my heart rate.

 

One thing I knew for sure:  I was certain that if I survived this drive, I would enjoy every minute of the event, even if no one showed up.

 

I immediately felt better and more in control.

 

A few minutes after arriving, my guest speaker texted me to say she had made it safely and was waiting in her car. She came, despite the storm! The rain began to quiet down and the tornado warnings were cancelled by the weather service.

 

Almost a dozen people did show up and it was a great group. The storm gave us some good stories to talk about. If you follow my blog you'll know that some of the best connections are made by sharing stories. 

 

So the next time you find yourself in the throes of dark thoughts, ask yourself this powerful question:

 

“Who do I need to BE for this situation not to bother me?”

 

It helps.

 

Best,

Cheryl

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