Over the past few weeks I have spoken to quite a number of people who are stressed because of the behaviour of their colleagues, friends or family. It is very easy to blame others for the way we are feeling, but of course we are entirely responsible for the way we feel.
Around 90% of what happens to us is entirely down to some action we have taken, something we have said or something we have thought. And I’m inclined to think that quite a few ‘accidents’ are also not that accidental.
The truth is that we get stressed, or even injured, because of how we react to any given situation. The cases I have been seeing lately have been people who are very upset, angry, frustrated or hurt because someone didn’t behave the way that was expected- for instance didn’t reply to something, didn’t express gratitude, didn’t finish a task as expected. These are all examples of unmet expectations. Someone I know was upset that a friend hadn’t remembered the anniversary of her mother’s death; she had expected a card or a phone call- because that was what she would have done. When I pointed out that I didn’t think that many people would have thought to mark that kind of anniversary, she seemed surprised, because she expected that everyone would behave or think in the same way that she did.
Many people find it difficult to delegate tasks to others because they expect that no one else can do the job as well as them. This may be true, but maybe in the past they didn’t explain the task well enough for someone else to succeed. Maybe getting something done is better than waiting for perfection.
A few years ago while on holiday in Turkey I bought a small rug. I was told that the rugs all had a slight, but deliberate mistake somewhere in the pattern because the weavers believed that only God was perfect. It was considered blasphemous to expect to produce perfection.
Perhaps we would find our lives a little less stressful if we could let go of expectations and trust that everyone is doing the best they can. It is often said that imperfect action is always better than perfect inaction. Accept that others have different beliefs, values and behaviours to you, and your way is not the only way.
If you would like some help dealing with stress in your life, give me a call to discuss the wide range of options I can offer.