Arm yourself? Is this turning into a blog about gun control? Certainly not. If this phrase sounds a bit to confrontational for you, let me remind you of one thing. We are in a fight. Some of us may not look at it that way, but that is truly what it is. We are in a fight for control of our mind, our body and our spirit. Daily we are exposed to negative influences on social media, in advertising and even through the people and situations we come in contact with.
If we are honest with ourselves, hasn’t there been a day where stress and overwhelm has stolen our day? You had things you wanted to get done, but then something happened that just left you feeling totally drained and overwhelmed due to some stressful situation? Maybe it has even stolen some joy out of your day. You had a nice party to attend or lunch to enjoy with a friend and because of something you are overwhelmed by you can’t fully enjoy it? Sometimes it can even make the littlest thing seem so stressful.
Have you ever noticed when you are totally stressed out that is when everything seems to fall apart? You are running late for work because your car won’t start, and because you are rushing you spill coffee on your lap. Then halfway to work you realize you forgot your cell phone and cannot tell your spouse you will have to stay a little later at work resulting in them being upset you will come home late without telling them.
Whew! I don’t know about you but that makes me tired just reading that story. So how do we keep from getting overwhelmed? I am going to share something I do that not only helps from getting me too stressed out, but also helps me improve my life and learn more than I ever thought I would. Care to find out what that is? I have developed that habit of asking two very important questions. Yes, that is it. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it is and it isn’t. All that is required is remembering two questions. You may even wish to write them down on a piece of paper because during stressful and overwhelming times trying to remember those two questions Neil told you to ask to keep from being overwhelmed can be…well…overwhelming. The ‘difficult’ part about this is learning to come up with constructive answers. There is no shortcut that I know of to being able to do this. What I recommend is to begin doing this today. You do not have to wait for stressful situations either. You can ask these two questions about any event in your life and the result will be more knowledge and more productivity.
So what are the two magic questions? I was beginning to think we would never get to them myself. Here is the first question, “What else can this mean?”. Let us say we were supposed to meet a friend for lunch at noon. Here it is 12:30 and we are sitting alone with no call or text. Our first reaction may be that our friend is rude, that they do not respect our time. These options could be true, but if we ask ourselves “what else can this mean?” we open ourselves up to other possibilities. Perhaps our friend was in an accident? Perhaps they are having a day like we described above? Maybe they are stuck in bad traffic and do not want to use their phone and are more worried about getting to us safely. Maybe we didn’t communicate the time correctly? Maybe they just do not understand how important being on time is to us? When we start to explore these other options it not only prevents us from being stuck in a feeling of anger and frustration, but surely prevents the friendship from taking too much of a blow even if we have to explain when we say to meet at noon we would really like to do so. Coming up with positive alternatives to negative situations can be tricky. Especially in the beginning when our brain is not used to it. To help it along we can pair it up with the second question.
Ah, the second question. This question is one of my favorites and has helped me survive quite a few stressful situations. If I was to be perfectly honest it has probably helped the welfare of the few of the people involved in stressing me out too. What is this question? When faced with a challenge and even one you may not be able to come up with a single positive meaning for, although I promise that will get easier with time, use the second question. Ask yourself, “How can I use this?” If you can find a way to get some good use out of a stressful situation you have, in effect, used it instead of allowing it to use you! How cool is that? When you realize there is something you can get out of a stressful situation it loses its power over you. Take our friend being late for lunch example. We could use that to practice patience certainly, but we can also use it to practice communicating something that bothers us with tact. We could use the extra time to do a quick meditation. Maybe we could read our favorite inspirational blog on our phone as we wait?
When stress comes knocking and bad things happen keep yourself armed with these two questions to fight off the effects of negativity and to keep from being overwhelmed. “What else could this mean?” and “How can I use this?” Feel free to list some of your examples of how you put a negative situation to use for you in the comments below and inspire other readers.