By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator
You smile and nod as your manager critiques a report you completed. You shrug as your teen calls you unfair for limiting internet time on a weekend. You tell yourself it’s no big deal when your friends are invited to a party but there was no invitation for you. You take it all in stride, but you know the frustration is building. Then, suddenly, you blow up over something crazy, like your favorite show has been pre-empted by a special news show. You lose it, crying, swearing and complaining that life isn’t fair.
How – and why – does something so small create such a large reaction?
You, like most of us, catch and keep disappointments and frustrations rather than catching and releasing them. When you keep them, they build up until you reach a breaking point.
Rather than accepting the “straw that broke the camel’s back” mentality and acknowledging that a break down will happen at some point, what if you deal with whatever life throws at you, learn from it, and let it go, rather than catching and keeping it? By doing this, there is little or no build up. There is no reason to go into meltdown.
It does, however, require awareness and it takes practice.
Learn from life
One of the wisest things I learned in all my years is to use everything life sends me as a lesson. What did I do well that I should do again? What didn’t work that I should learn from to make my next moment better?
Using this approach, I can better manage my reaction to life’s events, particularly the frustrations and disappointments. I can deal with it, learn from it and move on.
Life isn’t personal
I remember one time when I was a kid I got a particularly bad haircut (or that is how I remember it). Threatening to lock myself in my room until my hair grew back, my mother calmly asked, “What makes you think anyone is looking at you anyway?” Her point was to not take things so personally. When it rains on the day of your planned barbecue, it isn’t personal – it’s just the weather. When you get sick on the day of your big presentation, it’s not personal – it’s just life.
When we let go of the negative emotions that we add to life’s frustrations, we can see them as the little events they are. This gives us more emotional room to decide what to do next, to catch the wisdom of the moment and release the negative energy so the rest of the day isn’t affected.
Important Questions from a Coach:
- What are you holding on to that you should release?
- How can you focus on learning from your frustrations and disappointments as they happen?
- What will it be like to be around you as you better manage your disappointments and frustrations?
Catch, learn and release. Gather information, learn from it and let it go. This makes room for the next round of successes, challenges and frustrations that will happen because that is just how life is.
Catch and release instead of catch and keep. Life will be so much better.