Word-Of-the-Week #680: Choosing

August 17, 2017 by  

Choosing – deciding what you want.

Are you clear about what you want out of your life? Under pressure is your first instinct fight or flight? Can you see the positive even in a potential negative situation?

This week features 5 more tips from Doug Williams San Diego UT article, “How to stay afloat when your workplace is toxic.” He wrote “The first thing to remember, you can only manage yourself. You can’t control other people, especially if it’s a manager being the toxic factor. And in terms of managing yourself, really, that’s where mindfulness comes in very powerfully, to help the employee realize what they can control and to let go of what they can’t. Sometimes that letting go of what you can’t control is a huge relief for people.”

  1. Be present. Even in a stressful situation — say, being criticized by a boss — don’t disconnect. Listen and engage without judgment.

“Right now my manager is giving me grief, and there’s nothing I can do about this,” says Cassisa. “Just that bit of acceptance can relieve a lot of stress. There’s an equation we use and talk about in our classes, and that is pain times resistance equals suffering. So pain is going to happen. Your manager is being a jerk. But the resistance you add on top of that is what causes more suffering.”

That’s not to say you shouldn’t go to HR later if it’s justified, she says. But in the moment, accept it. That will counter the fight-flight-freeze reaction we’re all wired for in an emotional situation and help stop the flow of adrenaline and cortisol that shut down your ability to think clearly — or say something to make the situation worse. 

  1. Meditate. Take a class and practice meditation to keep yourself calm.
  1. Focus on the positive. By nature, says Cassisa, we’re in tune with the negative as a survival instinct. It was more important for people to notice “the bad stuff like snakes and poisonous berries than it was to remember beautiful sunsets,” she says. But look for the good work of others and the positives in your life. Keeping a gratitude journal has been shown to increase levels of happiness, she says.
  1. Have compassion for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about mistakes. “Research is showing that people who are more self-compassionate are more likely to bounce back from failures,” says Cassisa.
  1. Seek choices

In the programs she teaches, Cassisa often talks about an odd but useful tool to use in the midst of a stressful situation. Think, “Where are my feet?”

Even if your boss is dressing you down, consciously thinking about your feet — their position, how they feel — helps short circuit the fight-or-flight switch and allows you to stay calm.

“It can help you to remember to pause and be able to respond with intention instead of reaction,” she says.

Finally, both Mattice Zundel and Cassisa counsel to seek a way out. It may not be possible, but it’s important to consider options.

“We always have choices, but sometimes we don’t see choices as choices,” says Cassisa. “It may be that instead of driving a Lexus and keeping this job, we downgrade to a Toyota and find a job where we’re happier.”

This week is all about choosing. Are you able to stay calm in stressful situations?  How easy is it for you to respond versus reacting? Can you see more than one option in any given situation?

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