Are You Wasting Time?

Do you ever:

* Apply methods to manage your work-life balance?

* Use positive thinking to get through difficult situations?

* Employ techniques to handle stress?

Have you noticed that sometimes these methods or techniques seem to ‘work’ better than other times? Do you blame yourself for not putting enough effort in when you are struggling? And pride yourself on your control when you are feeling on top of everything? Either way, it probably feels like you are doing the best you can in challenging circumstances?

If so, there’s a tiny bit of knowledge that could save you a lot of time: It really, really, really looks like circumstances (that client, your workload, a big meeting, suppliers letting you down) are causing you to feel a certain way, and then it makes sense that you need those methods and techniques to feel better, and be more productive. Only problem, none of this is true. That’s not how human beings work, psychologically or physiologically.

What actually happens is that our feelings are in a natural state of flux, and then we try to apply meaning to the feeling. For example, you might think, “I’m feeling stressed, it must be the situation with that person, the feeling is telling me something about that person, I’m going to need to start thinking really positively so that I can be assertive in the meeting with them, I know it’s going to be difficult, …”

In fact, all circumstances are neutral, until you give them meaning. The feeling of stress is telling you is that you are looking in the wrong place for answers – in my example, you’re looking to the person, the situation, your feeling, a technique, the future. The single answer is that feelings are an internal creation, beyond your control. They aren’t telling you anything about the world, you, or your ability to be effective in the world.

You are a human being, you are innately suited to being effective in the world. You need you technical skills, and your business knowledge, but the rest will flow naturally, when you stop trying to control the thing you can’t control – the way you feel.

To go back to my example, now you might think, “I’m feeling stressed.” A full stop, not a spiral of commas.

What a freedom to give yourself. Permission to stop analysing feelings, because it’s looking to the wrong place.

In summary, feelings of stress, overwhelm or busy are telling you nothing about the world, they are simply telling you that you are looking out into the world to explain why you feel that way. Remember that feelings naturally come and go, you don’t need to fix them. They mean absolutely nothing about your ability to do a good job. Time spent trying to assign meaning to feelings is wasted time.