How often do you allow things, situations or people “get” to you?
I had one of the most frustrating phonecalls a few days ago and ALMOST allowed it to ruin my entire day.
You know, in the recent months, I’ve probably seen more doctors than I have in my lifetime. Some I liked, some I loved, and others not so much…
There was one, whom from the moment he entered the room, I knew I didn’t like. A bad vibe, horrible bedside manner, dismissive attitude- call it what you want. I just knew it wasn’t going to work. Obviously, that one visit to his office was the only one for me, since it left me feeling upset for days.
I had to call his office a few days ago and the person who answered the phone was probably one of the rudest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to deal with- and trust me, having done work in criminal law in the past, I’ve heard it all. I could not get a word in, had to keep asking “can you please let me finish?” and couldn’t even explain the reason for my call. I spent 2 minutes on the phone being yelled at, for no reason, before I finally lost it.
During that phone call, I felt myself getting hot, angry, my palms were sweating and even though I tried to breathe and remain calm, I just couldn’t.
That’s what set in. After I got off the phone, I tried to think of 10 different things I could have said to that woman; how the reason they treat their patients (most of whom deal with chronic pain) is why I never went back to their office; how she should be ashamed for putting me under more stress than I already am due to my injury, or how she should perhaps find a different job where she doesn’t have to deal with sick or injured people, because she clearly isn’t fit to work at a hospital.
Yes. I let that 3-minute phone call ruin my morning.
Then, I got to think: well, maybe she was just having a bad day.
I then thought: Hmm… okay, but is that an excuse to treat someone else like trash?
It was almost as if I was trying to justify my losing my patience and yelling at that woman. It was at that time, that I suddenly remembered one of my favorite mantras/affirmations: I cannot control everything that happens to me, but I can control how I respond to it, and I choose love.
Think about it. There are so many the things we allow to disturb our peace of mind:
-things other people do or say
-situations that seem, or are, beyond our control
-things not going according to plan
Seems that the list could go on and on.
I’ll admit it, it takes a lot for me to lose my shit like that, or let those stupid things get to me. At the end of the day though, I had two choices: I can either let this “thing” bother me and upset me, or I can take it as a lesson and just let that shit go.
HOW TO FIND MORE CALM IN LIFE
NOTICE THE PATTERNS
Listen to your body. How do you respond to stress? Do you start shaking, sweating, is your breathing becoming more shallow? Your body sometimes reacts to stress before you even realize that you find yourself in a stressful situation. Once you notice those patterns, you will find it easier to deal with pressure or small anxieties.
Noticing those patterns, however, isn’t enough. You also need to come up with a plan, a solution, a strategy which can help you find more calm in life. Think about things or situations that trigger those patterns or negative responses and how you can minimize them.
This should always be your first response when trying to remain calm or find more calm in life, and although it’s quite obvious, it’s not something we turn to, immediately. Think of deep breathing, as your built-in stress-relief system. Often, during those stressful times, deep breathing is the fastest way to calm yourself down.
To calm your nervousness try tactical/combat breathing:
- breathe in through your nose, expanding your diaphragm (expanding your stomach) counting: 1,2,3,4
- hold your breath and count: 1,2,3,4
- exhale counting: 1,2,3,4
- hold for another 4 seconds and repeat until your breathing returns to normal
Deep breathing increases the oxygen supply to your brain- this stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, also called a “rest and digest system” which promotes the state of calmness. For any stressful situation you find yourself in, remember to pay attention to your breathing and start with trying to return your breathing to a normal state.
“Just stop thinking about it’
“Don’t worry about it”
You know what, some things you just can’t ignore. Some situations can be so upsetting that trying to run away from those feelings and emotions can do more harm than good. You just can’t always resist them. Having a positive attitude is great, but the truth is that you can’t always just “think happy thoughts” and suddenly, everything falls into place. It just doesn’t work that way.
Negative emotions have their purpose too, and you shouldn’t try to resist them if they feel too overwhelming or powerful. Allow yourself to feel. Express your frustration if you need to; have a cry, write out your feelings, let it all out, talk it out if someone, if that’s what you need to do. Resistance can sometimes intensify those negative feelings, and when you want to find more calm in life, giving more power to those negative emotions is the last thing you want to do.
STAY MINDFUL + DON’T ASSUME
Some, if not most of the stressful situations we find ourselves in, lose their power once we introduce mindful practices into our life. Take that phone call for example; I gave it excessive attention, way more attention than I should have, attention which it didn’t deserve. And, I got stuck. I got stuck in my “head,” with my thoughts, with that frustration, anger. After that, I was upset at myself for… well, getting upset.
Crazy talk, isn’t it?
We sometimes keep these events and situations alive in our head/mind and replay them over and over again. This results in more pain, more frustration. That frustration then acts as an inhibitor to our happiness and peace of mind. Truth is, being mindful isn’t always easy, especially when dealing with other people. You sometimes probably want to ask yourself: “Why should I be the one to change my response? Why can’t the other person just change the way they act?” The answer to that is pretty simple: your response is the only one which you can control. That realization is what can help you find more calm in life.
If you want to find more calm in life, you need to let things flow. You can’t make people act a certain way, you can’t always control the outcome of things that happen to you.
Rather than letting those things get to you, try to just flow and let things happen without judgment or allowing them to anger you. Yes, it takes practice, and yes, it is worth the effort. Once you learn to just “flow,” things become a little easier, a little more smooth. Suddenly, you stop creating that anxiety or stress, that chatter in your head that interrupts or even ruins your day becomes less and less noticeable. It’s almost like turning down a radio, that plays a bit too loud and prevents you from paying attention to things that matter.
How do you stay calm in stressful situations? Is it something that comes easy, or do you think it’s something that you could work on? Remember that you are the one who is in control of your emotions. Do not allow anything or anyone to disturb that inner peace.