Friday, May 16

Do You Step Back or Forward When Stressed?

One of the things people and organizations naturally do when we’re exhausted or under pressure is to step back from the people or situations we identify as related to our anxiety, even those who simply come into our lives during those stressful moments. Yet, backing away can lead to more misunderstanding, negativity, and distance. It often draws a line in the sand and cements the divisiveness between those in the situation. Thus, it rarely yields connective results or provides a solution.

Instead of moving away from people and issues when you’re feeling angry, tired, or misunderstood, try moving closer to the individuals or situation. Think of it as using the power harnessed in ancient Eastern martial arts by stepping in toward your opponent rather than using force and muscle as in Western boxing. Try this experiment: the next time you find yourself being criticized, the target of hostility, or in a stressful situation with a colleague, imagine opening your heart up and showering that person with love, as if from a fire hose. Don’t tell them what you’re doing, but notice their reaction.

Many of my clients have benefited from learning how NOT to avoid the pink elephant in the room-- to trust themselves, others, and the process of identifying and addressing it directly. As we all have experienced, pink elephants grow and become more powerful when left unattended.  Becoming more connective is easiest when everything is going well, so the real test of your commitment to being truly consistent with your values is what you say and do when under pressure. Move in to connect, and you’ll be taking steps toward resolving the issues you’re facing—and you’ll be practicing being your best self to boot!

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