In an ideal world that wasn’t filled with challenges, joys, stresses and never enough time we would all be able to do exactly what we wanted to do when and how we needed to. However, we do all live in a wonderfully chaotic and ever changing world and there are a few things that can truly help us transition back into that world after we collectively took a step back from it.
Setting a Positive Emotional Environment and Reset Button
Being intentional about setting a positive emotional climate for yourself and your family can help through both good and stressful times. Rather than simply reacting to each crisis and circumstance as it arises, setting an emotional climate (or in other words an internal state of calm) gives you the head start to fending off potential sources of stress and conflict. The creation of an emotional climate has more to do with your inner preferences than your external environment.
Your emotional environment is primarily made up of noise levels, the speed of activity (rushing around), the respect of one another and the willingness (or lack of it) to sit still and listen to yourself. Paying attention to and attuning to your emotional environment can help you manage what you need in each environment you are in. Knowing when you need more peace and quiet, or to more fully engage with others starts and ends with oneself, meaning we can pay attention and implement what we need in each environment we are in.
We tend to go about our business until chaos overwhelms us, whether or not there were any obvious signals of potential chaos beforehand. We can avoid a vast majority of this sense of being overwhelmed by listening to the warning signals and using them as reset buttons. One warning signal can be the feeling of being rushed, when there is an undeniable frenzied feeling that occurs when everyone feels pressured for time and rushes around feeling frustrated. When this rushed feeling arises, it can be a good time to press the reset button as it usually is trying to indicate the need to slow down and regroup. By using the reset procedure of quite literally stopping what we are doing and taking a step back or creating a break for yourself, you can regroup and regain perspective by starting over again. The most encouraging part of using your own reset button is you are the one to reset as often as you need, whether it is a small or substantial reset.
Live from your Heart
A subtle, yet major contributor to sweating the small stuff for many people is the failure to live from the heart. Instead, we have a tendency to fall into routines out of default or because everyone else seems to be doing it, or it seems like the right thing to do. Living from the heart means that you choose a life and lifestyle that are true for you and your family. It means you make important decisions because they resonate with your heart, intuition and your own values and not necessarily those of others. Living from the heart means you trust your own instincts more than the pressures or expectations or society, advertising or friends.
It does not, however, mean you become a rebel or purposefully different from everyone else. It is much more subtle than that. It is about trusting that quiet inner voice that emerges when you quiet down enough to listen. It is the voice that speaks to you from a place of wisdom and common sense instead of from frantic chatter and habit. When you trust your heart and intuition, rather than your habits, new insights will come to the surface. A failure to live from your heart creates a great deal of internal conflict which can result in becoming short tempered, easily bothered and reactive. If your actions are inconsistent with your deeper wisdom, you will feel frustration and stress.
A good way to put this into practice is to ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. “Am I doing this because I always have? Or it serves someone else? Or because I genuinely want to and it works for me. Then settle in, and listen to the answer. Listening to your heart and intuition is one of the foundations of inner peace and personal growth.
Don’t Wait for Bad News (or a Bad Situation) to Appreciate your Life
Whenever we experience a drastic, uncontrollable or potentially negative life changing experience we undoubtedly go through a state of shock. One other thing also usually occurs: our ordinary life will be experienced with heightened appreciation. The things we sometimes took for granted (laughter, beauty, friendships, nature, family and loved ones, our home) will all seem more important and special than ever before. As they say, the small things really do matter most and feel far more cherished in challenging times. All the “other stuff” that tends to bother us so much won’t seem nearly as important or worthy of so much attention. The little aggravations that we tend to focus on will fade in significance and our attention will be on the tremendous gift of life.
Collectively we have been through an experience that truly has had the power to shift not only how we view life, but how we live life. Instead of postponing your experience of gratitude until you are forced to do by some form of bad news, a practice to take forward is to remind yourself just how short and fleeting life is and how quickly it can change, especially when we find ourselves getting back to that oh so comforting and familiar routine. There can be an active choice in how you view the uncertainty and fragility of life. One way is to feel defeated and frightened over the inevitability of change, including painful change. The other way to view it is to use the uncertainty of life as a constant reminder to be grateful. Because we are so familiar with and spend so much time at our homes, it is easy to take for granted our families, possessions, environment, safety, and comfort that our homes provide us.
As we transition towards whatever the future holds, we can maintain that experienced and renewed sense of gratitude for life and home that has stood out in the past few months and incorporate it into life moving forward.
Registered Provisional Psychologist Christina Sutter is passionate about helping individuals focus on what is important to them.Her therapeutic approach is focused on building a safe and trusting relationship as a foundation for effective and lasting changes. Her aim is to help you discover opportunities for change and growth. You can read more about Christina here.