On one side there is: the observed reality
On the other side there is: what you think the reality ‘should’ be or you ‘want’ it to be
Here is a personal example:
My WANTS: I want to ride on my motorbike from home to my morning yoga class. I want it to be peaceful and free of any stress or near death experiences (perhaps a little melodramatic).
The REALITY: There are lots of bikes and cars on the road. Most people either don’t have a licence or have never done a test to get a licence, so have no idea about ‘road rules’ or why they were created. There are stray dogs wandering onto the roads. Random piles of dirt dumped on one lane of the road. Potholes. Most motorbike riders never look when they pull out onto a road. There are kids 10 years old riding motorbikes. There are people 80 years old riding motorbikes. Lots of people don’t wear helmets. People turn and don’t indicate. And that is just some of the story.
So the REALITY is that it is a complete mad house on the roads.
My WANTING it to be different is ludicrous. It is what it is. And if I stick to my want (or how I think it ‘should’ be), I will be upset and stressed 100% of the time. And the greater the gap between my wants and the reality, the greater my level of stress.
Now this same kind of thing could apply to you driving in traffic, or the service you get at a store, or the way your kids act, or the inflated price of groceries, or the durability of modern products, or the difference in your life you think the next product, service or person will make. Etc.
What’s your gap?
And importantly…what is the solution?
Let me tell you the solutions I work with:
1. Accept it.
In this case you just accept it is what it is and roll with it. Easier said than done. This is the best solution where you have very limited ability to CONTROL the thing bothering you. It is much easier to change you then change the external universe.
As Byron Katie says: ‘When I argue with reality, I lose. But only 100% of the time.’
Once you accept something, the next step is to decide if anything needs to be done. What is the best solution in this situation? Sometimes your conscious (and best) choice, may be to do nothing.
2. Change the meaning you give it
I recently heard Dr Deepak Chopra say ‘The meaning you give to an event IS the event’. I like that. So maybe in my case with the crazy road conditions, the meaning I could give it is:
– A opportunity to practice finding calm amidst the storm
– A competition to see if I can make it in one piece and with a smile on my face
– A chance to practice acceptance
– A challenge to see how many near misses I can count on the way
– A hilarious rock show to entertain me
I especially like the last one. 😉
So what meaning could you give to the things that are stressing you out in life? Could you lighten up on them? See the sort-of funny side?
3. Revise your Expectations
This actually reduces the gap. Maybe your expectations are WAY TO HIGH for the situation you are facing. Maybe you are expecting someone to be much better than they are without realising that their upbringing, role models, parenting, training, home life, life experience, etc. might have been less than stellar. Maybe you are basing how they ‘should’ act, based on how you would act. But here is the thing: NO ONE thinks, believes or does things exactly like you.
You are unique and so are they. So don’t look at them through your lense. Look at them through their lense (also know as empathy or emotional intelligence).
4. Do something about it
It is possible to change the existing ‘reality’. However it takes a LOT MORE work to change things externally than it does to change things internally. Externally you mostly can only INFLUENCE. Internally you have the ability to CONTROL and change.
So changing the external reality, by act of will and effort, will reduce the gap; but it is likely to require commitment, focus, time, energy, and dedication; depending on the size of the game and the thing you want to influence.
The easiest one to do
For me, if I am short on time and energy, or it is not something I am passionate about trying to influence change, I work on option 1, 2 or 3. In the case of the mad house on the roads in Bali, I have come up with this strategy:
1. It is what it is (manic) so I just need to slow down and pay more attention to my space – ACCEPTANCE
2. Time to get a free ticket to watch the chaos and be pleasantly amazed at the minimal number of accidents and damage, given the amount of near misses – CHANGE THE MEANING
3. With no training, limited understanding of consequences (which requires deeper thinking), and very poor role models, I need to reduce my expectations – REVISE MY EXPECTATIONS
Now for you…
Do you had a big gap in your life between reality and your expectations, or shoulds, or wants, that is causing you STRESS? Do you need to ACCEPT someone or something? Do you need to find a more empowered MEANING for a situation or event in your life? Can you find the good in the situation (it does exist)? Do you need to take some action? Or do you need to accept that it will take you 1,000 hrs to ‘fix’ and you neither have the time or drive to do so. Or maybe you do have the ability to change things and you get right into action.
How will you USE today’s Tip, and my little gift to you?
Make sense? Let know thoughts. And feel free to have a dialogue with me over on my Facebook Page.
As always, if you want me to help you with a powerful coaching session, you know how to get in touch with me. If you have any comments or insights you would like to share, head over to the Blog, or jump on my Facebook page to continue the dialogue (and pick my mind). Also check out The Happiness Class on iTunes for some FREE weekly Coaching. And please share this newsletter with friends and family.