“I’ve got to find the gift in this situation. What is it?”
“How do I manage my stress in this situation? “How!” “What am I missing?”
That was my brain for about a month. I was thinking over and over again about what I could do to reduce my stress levels when it came to the computer and telephone system at work. I am the one who would contact the techs who maintained the system, but during that month, it seemed like every day something was malfunctioning. And folks’ tempers and patience were being tested with every glitch, and I found my stress level rising and rising. One particular issue was ongoing and I became stressed beyond belief.
“What is the gift?” “What is it?” “What am I missing that will help me deal with this better?”
For decades I have lived under the premise that all of the non-preferred situations in my life serve me somehow, I just have to figure out how they serve me, exactly as-is. This way of living helped me crack the code on the abuse I experienced. It also helped me enjoy permanent weight loss, shift clinical depression and enjoy healthier relationships.
As I found myself in a serious arm-wrestling match with a temperamental computer network, I knew that there was a way for me to crack the code on this particular recurring stressful experience. There was a life-enhancing gift in it that I hadn’t yet discovered. I knew that once I discovered the gift in it, my stress would go away because I got what I needed to understand from it.
And, my breakthrough happened during a conversation with a friend, who had high expectations of people and constantly found herself in a state of disappointment. I could relate because I remember when I used to place my well-being in the hands of others. I remember expecting things from other people and feeling disappointment when things didn’t turn out the way I wanted.
I came to the conclusion that, in order to curb my disappointment, I needed to change my expectations of others. That way, when folks would keep their word and follow through without my expecting anything, I’d be delighted. I came to understand that we are all doing the best we can at any given time and we are not perfect. We can’t be all things to all people, and the best we can do is to be a wonderful friend to ourselves.
When I shared that philosophy with my friend, that’s when my own light bulb went on. I realized that I was expecting the computer network to run flawlessly, and when it didn’t, I was disappointed. Therefore, it was my own expectation that created my stress!
I thought about it. Computers are not perfect, and function beyond my control. They break down, they get hacked, underlying circuits have interruptions; there’s a lot that can go wrong. So, all that time when I was expecting the system to run perfectly, I was expecting it to do something it was not designed to do.
I cracked the code, and shifted my perspective. I now expect the network to mess up. That way, when I get a call that something is malfunctioning, I smile rather than stress, because I expected to get that call. With that, my stress is G-O-N-E, and the only thing that changed in that scenario was me. I’m back in my own driver’s seat again, happily balanced and peaceful. Thank you for the gift, wonderful and imperfect computer system. Now you can break down and I will take it in stride!
Here we are at the New Year, and it is wonderful to contemplate how we can make simple steps for real change. It is time to transform disappointment into freedom and joy, and this is how I invite you to explore doing it:
Understand that when you are disappointed, it simply means that you have unfulfilled expectations. You are expecting someone or something to do what it is not designed to do. When you release your expectations – when you accept things (and people) to be naturally imperfect rather than trying to control the uncontrollable (remember the popular definition of insanity?), your disappointment levels will go way, way down.
The next time you are disappointed, ask yourself how the situation serves you exactly as it is. Check to see what your expectations are, and what you expected to get out of it. If you find that your expectations are unrealistic, it is an opportunity for you to reaffirm your own ability to be at peace without that thing or person acting as you expected. And when you do that, you will find yourself becoming lighter, and more in control of your own happiness.
When you find yourself disappointed when people don’t do what you expect or want them to do, understand that they are doing the best they can at any given time. It is not their job to make sure that you are happy, that is your job. And all that takes, on your part, is a shift in perspective, and your non-preferred situations can be the bearers of tremendous gifts and clarity.
May this be the year that you become skilled at cracking the code in your life. Be willing to get the gifts waiting for you all year round!
Very enlightening article with extremely valuable tool to reduce stress. Thanks, Janet.