The other night I was talking to a friend of mine about how he handles stress.
He's under a significant amount of stress from work all the time and he takes it in stride.
Even when there's a lot to do.
Even when there's a lot at stake.
Even when there's a lot that could potentially go wrong on a major scale.
He manages to be super laid back about all of it AND gets things done.
*Cue my exasperated / confused / curious face*
How the heck does he do that?
How does he NOT get stressed out?
So, I asked him about it.
I've summed up what he told me into three core beliefs:
1. He firmly, 100% believes that everything will always work out. When I say those words out loud, all of the tension in my body disappears. Everything will always work out. (I'm sure you could argue with me about this on many points, but I will say that all situations are a matter of perspective. Things may not work the way we want, but they still work out.
2. Sometimes life is a mystery we can't explain, so let go and trust. Who knows why things happen? Sometimes they just do. Perhaps there is a bigger plan at work, but we don't know. So carry on.
3. He believes in himself, and that he can and will accomplish what he's set out to do. I've watched many of my clients run themselves in circles just worrying that they can't do something, when they're usually completely capable of knocking it out of the park. Believing you can do something will help you to do it, and do it well with less stress.
And there's one thing that I've never heard him say. I hear people say this ALL THE TIME in passing or in conversations, so the absence of these words stand out in his vernacular - especially considering his high-stress and high-risk line of work.
He never says, "What if..."
WHAT IF <---- These are the two heaviest words you are carrying around my friend.
Falling prey to the seductive, negative pull of these two words can break you dowwwwwn, man!
(And you have the power to change that.)
If you're stressed, you are undoubtedly running through a whole series of negative what if scenarios in your head.
What if I don't nail this presentation?
What if I'm doing this parenting thing all wrong?
What if I start exercising and don't lose this weight I want to lose?
What if I go on this date and I'm super awkward and don't know what to say?
What if I quit my job and I can't make it with my Etsy store?
*cue the silent scream*
I'm stressed out just writing all those scenarios and none of them apply to me right now! JEESH!
Let me tell you, the words what if can weigh on you like a four ton elephant.
And playing out those negative scenarios in your mind are physically taxing to your body.
Your mind and body respond to your imagination as if it were real.
If you're running through worst case scenarios all day long, you're putting yourself under massive stress from imaginary situations <--- (they haven't happened!)
It's exhausting, my sweet.
Undoubtedly you learned this pattern from a loved one or after a traumatic experience where something did go wrong and now you're on guard to be ready for anything bad that might happen.
But being on high alert all the time can really, really wear you down.
Your poor adrenals.
They're not built to be under constant stress.
There's good news about all of this though - I have a solution for you!
I want you to put the elephant down.
How do you do that?
Well, I don't want you to stop saying what if.
If you've been saying what if for years, you're going to be stressed trying not to say it.
We don't want more stress.
I want you to change the words that come after what if.
I want you to change the scenarios you're playing out in your mind to something positive.
What if I don't nail this presentation? ----> What if this presentation is really fun and I rock it?!
What if I'm doing this parenting thing all wrong? ----> What if I've really got a knack for this parenting thing, and I get compliments on how incredible my kids are?! (That'd be cool.)
What if I start exercising and don't lose this weight I want to lose? ----> What if I start exercising and suddenly I don't care about the weight because I'm loving how good I feel?!
What if I go on this date and I'm super awkward and don't know what to say? ----> What if this date is so charming that I immediately feel at ease and like I've known them forever?!
What if I quit my job and I can't make it with my Etsy store? ---> What if I quit my job and totally rock my Etsy store and wish I'd quit sooner?!
One what if scenario feels super dense and dreary and frightenin, the other feels light and expansive and confident.
And each scenario paints a picture. Could you see each one? Could you feel how different they felt?
Each positive scenario is as probable as the negative scenario (maybe even more probable since things always work out). So why not imagine the BEST, most positive, possible scenario?
Sweetie - you get to choose how you want to feel!
So do you want to feel stressed or relaxed?
Frightened or confident?
Heavy or light?
You get to choose.
I mean, what if it was fun?
PS: Everything will always work out.