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Stress: Control It, Change It or Let It Go!

By Simma Lieberman

Have you ever tried to control other people? Who gets stressed out? Have you ever tried to control things or events over which you had no control? Do you find that stressful?

There are different typed of stressful situations. Some, like people interrupting you all the time, you can control. You can let the interrupters know you are busy and don't have time to talk.

Other stresses, like rush hour traffic, are usually beyond your control. But there are some things about rush hour traffic that you can personally change which may help; taking a different route, for example, or traveling at a different time. Of course, these changes are not always possible. In that case, you have to change your attitude about the situation, in order to lessen the stress. You can listen to music or educational tapes or books-on-tape. Rush hour traffic won't seem as frustrating because you'll be doing something to help keep your mind off the traffic and other drivers.

In order to let go of commute stress, you have to accept the situation. You must accept that you cannot control the traffic, no matter how much you yell and gesture at other drivers to speed up. A stressful commute can ruin your whole day, don't let it! Accept that, if you are unable to change your route, or your time of travel, you are powerless over everything on the road, with the exception of your car and your attitude. Control your attitude, let go of the traffic, and you can control your stress!

You can learn to manage a great deal of your stress by asking looking at each stressor and asking yourself, "Can I control it, can I change it, or do I need to learn to let it go?"

The "control, change, or let go" concept is an important key to stress management. We spend too much time worrying about things over which we have no control that we have no energy left to control the things we can. We become so overwhelmed, that we feel like our whole life is out of control and we'll never catch up. Once you understand the "control, change, or let go" concept and start putting it into practice you will be able to deal much better with stressful situations.

So much of our stress comes from trying to control other people, places and things when we simply cannot. We are the ones who end up with the stress and resulting headaches! The people we try to control go home, or simply ignore us, barely giving us a thought. That's why it is so easy to build up resentments against other people in situations or jobs when we don't think we have much control. On the job, it impedes productivity and healthy teamwork. People tend to blame other people. If you are stressed out because of others, it's important to go through the steps of control, change and letting go. Unless you are ready to leave your job, family, or the planet earth, chances are you will continue working or being around the "stressful people." Ask yourself if the other person is actually a "stress carrier," or simply has a different style.

Letting go is a process. It takes time, and doesn't always happen at once just because we will it. We have to use our thoughts to control our emotions and our actions. Remind yourself that there are people and events you cannot control. All you can control is your attitude and your reactions. Its possible to change yourself-talk about the situation. Identify which stresses you can control, take appropriate action, and learn to let go of the things you can't.

Pick something in your life that stresses you out. Can you control it? If so, what can you do? Can you change it? If so, how? Perhaps you can only change or control a part of it. Do you need to let it go? If so, what can you do in order to let go?

You can view life as unexpected and exciting or your can view it as scary because you don't know what the future holds. Take charge; take control or let it go. The choice is yours!

Simma Lieberman is a consultant, speaker and author. She works with organizations to create environments where people can do their best work. Contact Simma at (510)-527-0700 to discuss how she can help you and the people in your organization break the stress cycle and develop a more balanced life. Visit her website and subscribe for free monthly newsletter.
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