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  • Why You Need to Stop Fighting the Stressors You Cannot Change

    Loving What Is by Byron Katie

    You’re Stressed Out

    Everybody has stress of one kind or another. Some kinds of stress are good, such as planning a wedding or preparing for the birth of a child. Other types of stress are just part and parcel of life – paying the bills, working, keeping up with the laundry, disagreements with loved ones &/or colleagues, etc. Still other stressors are definitely considered bad, like illness, death, job loss, and injury to name just a few. You’re probably familiar with many of those stressors.

    But did you know that there’s a fourth kind of stress? You! Yes, you. Chances are excellent that if you’re reading this blog you’re among the vast majority of people who stress yourself out by doing one or more of the following:

    • Dwell on the fact that you have too much stress
    • Despair that you have too many stressors
    • Repeatedly work yourself up over things that you have no control over by creating stories about others’ beliefs, motivations, actions, consequences, situations, etc.

    Your worst stressors are probably on auto-repeat: the micromanaging  boss, the rebellious kids, all the commitments & committees you agreed to, the messy spouse, the insane number of kid’s extra-curricular activities, the lying coworker, the meddlesome mother-in-law, etc. It’s enough to make you want to scream. Go ahead, I’ll wait. You’ll feel better. 

    Now that you’ve gotten that our of your system, I want to get you thinking a little differently. There’s an old adage, “Energy flows where attention goes.” What that means is that the more you focus on something, the more of that something you’ll get. Yikes! I know you don’t need more micromanaging or lying people in your life, thankyouverymuch. Am I right?!?

    Get Off the Stress-Go-Round

    If you want to stop the endless cycle of being stressed out by things you have no control over, I seriously can’t recommend the book “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie enough. Prior to reading this book I had almost daily interactions with various people who were pathological liars, passive-aggressive, and/or micromanaging control freaks, and they drove me completely nuts!

    After reading “Loving What Is,” I no longer took their behavior personally because I could see that they interact with everyone the same way; that’s just who they are and how they currently function in the world. I don’t have to like them or their behavior, but it’s seriously crazy to expect them to be something or someone that they’re not. 

    Think about it this way. You have a whole set of traits that make you who you are. Some people really like those traits, and they’ve probably become friends with you because of it. Some people don’t like some of your traits, but you’d resent it if they tried to change you to suit their needs and/or sensibilities, wouldn’t you? Likewise for those who have traits that you don’t like.

    Before you start stammering but.. but… he’s LYING… that’s WRONG!! Let me say that I’m not going to deal with the moral issues that may be associated with some of the traits that tick you off, because you can’t force someone else to adopt your sense of morality (even if it is the right one, which I’m sure it is). All you can do is expect them to be who they are; nothing more, nothing less.

    That doesn’t mean that a liar is never going to tell the truth, it just means that you can’t count on it. Besides, how much of what anyone tells you is truly critical, need-to-know information? Really? Do you really need to know the extent of their skiing injuries from 20 years ago? Probably not, unless you’re a healthcare provider who’s treating them for something that may be related to that injury. Most of what they say can go in one ear and out the other. If they tell you something that’s definitely in the need-to-know category, you can double check the info with another source or get them to write it down so that if you need to call them on it later they can’t say “I never said that.” 

    Accept the Things You Cannot Change

    I came away from my experience of reading this book with a new take on the Serenity Prayer. Here’s my new version: “Please grant me the serenity to accept the stressors I cannot change, the courage to change the ones I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    Today I’m just going to give you a few quick tips to accept the stressors you cannot change and save the rest for another post (or 2 or 3):

    • Change Your Expectations – Never again expect a liar to tell the truth, a messy person to be tidy, or a disorganized person to get their sh*t together. Not that they’ll never tell the truth, tidy up, or be organized but you’ll sure appreciate it when they are.
    • Change Your Default Reactions – Find out that the world isn’t thrown into irreversible chaos if you try new things, let the socks sit on the floor for a few days, or don’t know where someone is 100% of the time.
    • Stop shoulding on yourself and others – The prevailing wisdom tells us not to should on ourselves and that advice is spot on. However, that’s not enough. We need to stop shoulding on others as well: “She should tell the truth,” “He should put his socks in the hamper instead of leaving them on the floor,” “She should keep her advice to herself.”
    • Stop Believing Your Thoughts – “OMG, he’s an hour late getting home and hasn’t called; he must be dead in a ditch somewhere.” Cause that one always helps, right?? Chances are your thoughts go straight to the worst case scenario and are therefore usually wrong. If you won’t believe the lies that someone else tells you, why do you continue to believe the ones you tell yourself?

    I know I didn’t go into detail about how to achieve this change, but making these changes in your mindset isn’t easy. It took Byron Katie an entire book to explain it, I’m sure not going to do it in a blog post. And this one is already approaching the size of a novella.

    If you want to stop being stressed out by things you have no control over, read the book. Seriously. Read. It. Might I suggest looking for it at your local bookstore (I’m a big fan of shopping local), your local used bookstore (I’m also a big fan of saving money and resources), or your local library (Yeah, I’m a big fan of libraries, too).

    *Note: I only recommend books that have made a difference in my life or the life of someone I know. I don’t get any sort of compensation for recommending them.*

    Have you read, “Loving What Is?” Tell me what you thought about it in the comments below.