Learn to Care Less and Take Control
“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.” Tony Robbins
Ever notice how friends, family and colleagues are becoming more stressed? And by stressed I mean constantly worrying over tiny insignificant things that really do not amount to anything in particular. You know the type of thing; at home, whether or not someone doesn’t put a cup away, or putting socks in the laundry bin, or at work when someone has the odd typo on an email or is late to a meeting or work due their train being late.
These niggles can escalate and become real issues if they are not contained or capped off early. In time these niggles then compound together into a list of bigger things that become huge and suddenly more important. The thing is, we let them happen too. We actually allow them to grow and manifest. Sometimes they can then take the form of internalised conversations, where we rationalise them in our heads by role playing the conversation through, often to the worst outcome, and then we take that outcome and make it a self fulfilling prophecy, enabling it to happen, making situations worse. In teams we see atmospheres being created, elevated tension between colleagues or at home with family members, over things that simply should not have mattered in the first place.
Specific times of year or event at work can make this happen too. At home, Christmas and family holidays are the biggest culprits. The whole thing about Christmas is the joy and wonder of being together, however, the actual planning and making said joy and wonder come together is what causes the stress. At work events such as work social evenings, redundancy, approaching targets can also do their bit to add to the worry.
So where is this ramble going? Let me tell you. I heard this phrase years ago, about mind over matter, it went “I don’t mind and you don’t matter.” I really like that, and quite often I call upon this little phrase in times when I can sense a situation arising where I may well be fooled into caring for something that really doesn’t matter. Quite often I simply tell myself “it doesn’t matter”, far better and more constructive than say “I couldn’t give a shit.” The difference being the former labels the problems as not mattering the latter labels your attitude as negative.
When I coach people, they often present problems or situation to talk through, and I have to ask them to identify what it is about the situation that is causing the problems, I like to break down the questioning into an order to help the person navigate through the problem, something like this.
- “So what exactly is the problem?” (This defines what you are talking about)
- “Why is that causing you to feel the way you do?” (Notice how I do not label it as a problem.)
- “What would you rather have happen?”(Asking them to come up with an alternative)
- “And if you could have this would you really want it?” (Reinforcing the alternative as a potential and probable option)
- “ What can we do together, to start moving towards this as help?” (First steps)
This in NLP terms is known as a ‘well formed outcome’ and can really move forward a problem or situation that can cause stress. This way of questioning the problem helps a person to see things from another perspective. Ultimately this can identify whether or not this really is a problem or if there is something else going on under the surface.
Control plays a part too. Many people try to take control of their problems, owning them. This is commendable, however it is helpful to be aware of what you actually have control over and what you don’t. If we try to control the things we have no say in, or any influence towards the outcome, then why worry about it? In one of my previous blogs I talked about my redundancy. It would have been so easy to swim around in all the sympathy and negative comments about the process and decisions being made, BUT, I have no control over them, so what was the point. This is not being defeatist or giving up. Far better to move on; focus on something more tangible and constructive, something I have control over. The rest does not matter.
So my point to you is this, in times when we are all up busy, with little or no spare time, and things mounting up into all sorts of potential problems. Take a moment to stop, don’t question it, and just say to yourself “It doesn’t matter.” That way, you can change your focus onto what does matter, and not what doesn’t or worse what someone else thinks matters. In the case of the latter, let them get on with it, don’t take it on, move aside, be better. If you find yourself in a full flung worry mode, then try asking yourself the questions I listed earlier, write down the answers and read them back out loud. Trust me things will become clearer. Learn to care less, without being careless and take back control.