The workplace is full of daily tasks, tests and challenges. Whether dealing with difficult co-workers, clients, a stubborn boss or a resistant team, professionals at all levels must develop ways to cope with stress. In the midst of these challenges, it can be easy to look to outside circumstances—and even other people—as the reason or cause of your stress. This reaction is very common, so if you’ve ever felt this way rest assured you are not alone.
But did you ever consider that maybe you could be the source of your own suffering? Yes, you. For some, this concept is counterintuitive to how they are feeling or view their situation—and that’s precisely the problem.
When the unexpected occurs, our initial reaction is to panic, assigning unwarranted motive and blame to all the people or circumstances that put us into the situation. We tend to paint ourselves as the victim. But in doing so, we are wasting precious energy fighting our reality. Instead of accepting our circumstances for what they are and using our energy to move forward, innovate and problem-solve, we often choose a more dramatic path that is completely avoidable.
The good news is that while we have the power to put ourselves into that position, we also have the power to remove ourselves from it. It all comes down to mindset and how we view the inevitable challenges that come our way. Will we be open to what’s happening and focus on what’s next, or will we allow it to drain us in the form of stress?
Improve your workplace by putting an end to the war with reality and enjoying the peace that ensues. Here’s how:
1. Embrace reality.
The average person spends two hours a day arguing with reality. This is unfortunate considering this is an argument we will lose 100 percent of the time. Yes, we certainly have the right to express our frustrations, but will it actually make an impact?
For example, what if your management team enforced new processes to ensure better quality control measures and you didn’t agree? You could gossip with co-workers about how it will require more work or vent about why you believe it’s a waste of time. But will those efforts actually change anything? Are you adding value or fueling the fire?
On the other hand, imagine a world in which you accepted your new circumstances and focused on how you could succeed within them. You would save yourself time and frustration all while buying in wholeheartedly to the company’s changes and your new role. It’s a win for you both emotionally and professionally. So let’s stop the argument with reality and, instead, use our energy to make a true difference.
2. Silence your story.
When faced with challenges, our minds tend to panic and jump to conclusions that may or may not be true. Be careful about what you think you know for sure and, instead, focus on the facts of the situation.
Ask yourself questions like, What do I know for sure to be true in this situation? or Without my story, what would I be doing to help? Be sure you are reacting to what is actually happening rather than what you believe or think is happening. Once you are able make that distinction, you will see your circumstances through new eyes, and your suffering and stress will be a thing of the past.
3. Focus on being happy, not right.
A large part of our contentment (or lack thereof) has to do with our desire to be either right or happy. To be right means that you are the judge of the world, you believe you know what is best no matter what. But if you are focused on being happy, you know that we must stop judging and start helping.
People and events will fall short of expectations and, at times, we may have to do more than our fair share. Oftentimes we can add the most value in the space between reality and perfection. In fact, that space is the very reason why most of us are employed. If you really want to find happiness, resist the urge to operate out of personal motive and do what you can for the greater good of the organization.
Remember, feeding into workplace drama is completely optional. At one point or another we will all face unexpected situations—the key is in how effectively we navigate them. Savvy employers know that the best team members are those who are nimble, can adapt easily and won’t be an emotional drain on the organization. If you can exhibit those qualities and be a lover of reality, you will go far—at work and in life.