Living Outside the Box!

Are you happy with the way your life is playing out? Have you found your purpose in this life and are you engaging in working your purpose everyday? Are you questioning whether you have found yourself living a life which could be different and perhaps more rewarding? Are you in a box with your job, your finances, your relationships, and possibly with your life’s purpose?

To be honest, most of us would have to agree that life sometimes, or maybe more often than sometimes, feels like it is going sideways. Just to complicate this discussion, consider this statement, some people define “Crazy” as repeating the same thing (Behavior) over and over again and expecting different results. (Occasionally, you may use a repeated behavior and get a different response because the environment or people involved will allow for a slightly different reaction.) Remember, if you do not like the response you get to a certain behavior then you need to take responsibility and try something different to get a more satisfying response. YOU have a choice! And, it starts by knowing that YOU are responsible and then, to break patterns where you are blaming other people or institutions for the less than desirable reaction. Yes, try an entirely new approach.

Why are you resisting change and a new approach? We do not try new behaviors because we are AFRAID. Yes, we have FEAR of new approaches because we lack confidence and do not know how these will turn out. We prefer to have reliable failure, which is comfortable and which we are familiar with, rather than move toward a more positive, yet unknown, outcome. We even have surrounded ourselves with family and friends who like us the way we are and would have difficulty supporting us if we were more successful and confident. They like the “Old” and familiar person you have been trapped within. Maybe, it is time to find new friends who love and support you on your path to becoming ever more successful and joyful.

At the end of your life, are you going to feel good about what you have accomplished and the people you have assisted? Will you weigh your legacy by how much money or how many “toys,” you have? Can you ask yourself, and honestly answer, that you have lived a full life filled with the service which has helped move consciousness forward?

It is time to take the small steps to find a better more adventurous and rewarding life. It may even be time to take the big steps toward your new life of personal responsibility and positive change. Personally, I have learned more from my failed attempts at changing my life and from confronting the challenges of trying new behaviors that lead me down an unhappy path. Take a risk. Get positive support. Break out of the confined box that has been a comfortable but unhappy experience. You will never know until you try, how good it feels to make that stretch in your life. Enjoy the adventure! No one else can do this for you, so do not wait.

The Masters of the Journey community may help to provide some support if your quest includes spiritual development (in a non-religious way.)

Coping with Grief and Loss – a Process

We all suffer from loss in our lives. Sometimes the loss relates to transitions through life that are normal and expected states of growth and development such as moving from childhood, through the teenage years, and then into the adult responsibilities that confront most people. Though this is a difficult transition, we must all face this if we live past our 18th birthday. There are more serious or traumatic losses that many of us encounter such as the death of close family member or friend, the loss of health due to accident or illness, the loss of an important relationship, or possibly the loss experienced with a career change or loss of a job. These are difficult times and hard lessons to experience in the course of life. These losses, though potentially painful, can be times of learning and personal growth. Many of these transitions can be less distracting and with a greater potential for learning if you have a positive support network. Here is the dilemma. Most people do not have a network of healthy, positive supporters to allow for movement through difficult transitions with grace and healing perspectives.

We can learn from our painful transitions and losses. We can wade through these changes more gracefully, and possibly with less discomfort, if we have the best team of support surrounding us. Some people look for professional counselors or coaches, or perhaps clergy to help with difficult transitions. Some of us have personal mentors who can be trusted and who have the necessary communication skills to assist in times of need. Some of us have healthy relationships, friends or family who can help without too much of their own “baggage.” Many people do not have enough access to the positive supporters who can help us through the grief that life throws at us.

There are many books and potential sources of information which help us to understand the process of dealing with loss and grief but for most people reading about the grief process is not enough. We need to be supported by a personalized experience that we can gather around us as we muddle our way through our emotional and spiritual pains of loss. We need to be “touched” by the proper support in many ways. We need to be allowed our grief and yet “called on it” when we have gone past the limit and start the “wallowing process.” We need to find the exact, personalized process to assist in managing the stress, anxiety, pain, confusion, and the “emptiness” of replacing the part of ourselves which has been lost with the more experienced and empowered person who has survived a major change/loss/growth… Do not miss the opportunity to build a support network of “healthy” and available people. You never know when a need will arise for this special support.

Each of us need to find the best way to learn our lesson and then to move on into our new, restructured life. We need to learn the best way to take care of ourselves, benefit from the lessons, and then discover the most appropriate directions to move our new life. To do this, we need to find people we can trust and invest the resources into the process of self-care and self-development so we can move down the path that leads to our goals. This is easier said than done, but if you realize that you would survive this transition more easily and possibly more quickly with positive assistance then you must do the work and find the correct support you require.

In the future, we will be expanding and releasing information regarding a new program which can assist most people in developing an individualized transition plan. We are beginning to build a process for creating a positive support network which will enable participants to discover their strengths, accept their weakness or flaws, and to free up energy to invest for moving toward positive goals and enhanced lifestyles. The working title for this process is “Finding Your Tone.”

Please comment or send questions to the Stress Education Center at wellness@dstress.com or visit the website at www.dstress.com.

Change Happens: Change & Transition Management

Life change is unavoidable. The pace of change has increased to a record rate with the latest innovations and information technologies. Our body’s primitive response mechanism has not been able to keep pace and we are living with “overwhelm” as a daily companion. We do not have time to adapt at a genetic level, so we must learn to use behavioral adaptations to survive and thrive.

Each of us is a unique person with our unique habitual response to stress. Some of us respond to stress with anger, frustration, rage, or fear. Some of us get “uptight” and hold tension in our jaws, necks, shoulders, backs, or legs. Some of us want to run away as a response. Sometimes we tighten our stomachs, hold our breath, feel our heart racing, our blood pressure may rise, or our hands and feet may get cold. Sometimes we withdraw as if we could hide from the dangers of newness of our transitions.

When we do not have any “control” over the transition and it is an “important” issue, then our stress levels increase. Our body responds, in the only way that it can, as if we were in a life or death situation. We must learn that in life’s interactions, the only thing that we can control is our response to the event. If this situation is important to us, it is best if we can have some input in the change process. We must understand our role and importance of our contribution to the larger picture. And finally, we must be meticulous with our self-care.

If stress comes from an unclear picture of what the transition entails and what our role in this transition will be, then we can respond with fear and resistance which can hurt the project and often our credibility. Communication with higher ups, peers, and the personnel we must manage is critical. Make sure everyone really understands their value, their role, and their contribution to the success of the project. Honesty is essential. Open conversations about the fears of the new or the grieving of the things that have had to change to make way for the new policy or procedure. Dealing with these issues will enroll the participants more successfully.

In a perfect world, there would be time to honor all of these necessary steps for positive transitions, but often the reality is less complete. We must develop strong, uncompromising habits for personal survival and self-care. This might include non-negotiable time for exercise and stress management practice. It would include patterns during stressful transitions where there is enough time for sleep/rest and proper nutrition. Simplify your expectations and distractions. It may not be the best time to take on new projects that would add to the stress like: remodeling the house, moving, new relationships, or large family or social commitments. In other words, use your best common sense and do not over do non-essential activities.

Consider using the following checklist of eight tools for managing major transitions more gracefully.
Tips for Surviving Change

1. Self-Care Daily! See and Use the suggestions from the Ten Timely Tips article (at “articles page” of www.dstress.com.) Self-care is the single most important ingredient to maintaining balance as you go through transitions and change. Proper diet, exercise, and regular relaxations will allow you to be more productive with a higher quality of life!

2. Communicate. Keep yourself from falling into the pitfalls of life by giving and getting feedback about every major concern (change/transition) you are dealing with. Remember, listening is the most important part of communicating. Ask for clarification, so you can make good decisions.

3. Planning… Be Prepared. A productive journey through life’s transitions can not occur gracefully without a plan. Long range goals can keep short-term setbacks from defeating you in major ways. Focus on your long term goals regularly to keep you focused and moving ahead. Plan in every area of life: Finance, self-care, education, relationship, emotional growth, creativity/aesthetic, and spiritual development.

4. Develop Positive Support Mechanisms. If you want to survive, in good health, you need to have proper feedback and support. The “Family” is not always the best place. Friends and professional counselors can sometimes be the best venue for honesty and appropriate support.

5. Develop Positive Rewards. Small and large rewards along your way help make motivation easier, especially with large, long-term goals. A real heartfelt pat on your own back with achieving a reward makes the difficulties easier to bear.

6. Use and Develop Your Humor! Positive Attitudes Really Help! Difficulties, when viewed as opportunities for growth and proving your abilities, are less harmful. But do not bury your anger, fear or sadness.

7. Deal with the Dilemma of Diversity! Every change throws you into a position of dealing with new people, teams, attitudes, emotional “stretches” and more new obstacles. Learning acceptance (through self-care) can help you to make the necessary adjustments and get along faster toward productivity and higher performance. There will always be a contrary attitude around, accept that other opinions exist and you are entitled to your own.

8. Maintain Balance in Your Life! Prioritize, acknowledge, celebrate, and follow through on every area of life, including your emotional and spiritual needs.

© L. John Mason, Ph.D. Stress Education Center and Dstress.com

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Executive Coaching and Training.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at http://www.dstress.com for articles, free blog, and learn about the new courses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.