Our study of the empowerment principles shared in Bruce D. Schneider’s book, Energy Leadership continues with an exploration of how we respond to life.
While most of us would be quick to say we want less stress in our lives, what we really want is greater ability to respond with equanimity, creativity and optimism to whatever comes our way. It’s been said many times, the only control we have in life is how we respond. We may not be able to choose what happens to us, but we can choose our responses to the people and situations we encounter.
Let’s take a look at five common responses people have to stressful situations. As you read through these five responses, you may want to think of a recent stressful event or uncomfortable news you received, and determine what your reaction to that event can teach you about how you habitually respond. You may have one type of response at work, and another at home or you may react differently depending on who else is involved.
A first—and all too common—response to stressful events is to suffer and make yourself a victim to it. People who respond this way don’t take action. Things happen TO them. Though they may invest considerable time and energy complaining and being miserable about their situation, they don’t take any actual steps to encourage themselves or try to change anything. Over the long haul, allowing circumstances to dictate your responses can take a dangerous toll on physical and mental health.
A second response is to ignore or avoid the situation. People responding this way make a decision not to get involved in a situation that they don’t see as concerning them or upon which they can’t have a positive impact. For example, someone may choose not to get involved in a dispute going on within their office if it doesn’t directly involve them.
A third type of response is to accept the situation and put it into perspective. Someone with this response may say “so what” and follow up with asking how much it will matter in a year, a week or even a day.
A fourth way to respond is to take action that begins moving the situation toward resolution. This self-empowering response is one that many effective leaders employ.
A fifth way people respond to stressors is to alter their experience of the situation. When we look at a situation differently, the experience itself changes. Changing perceptions can be the most challenging of the responses, because we can get stuck in our own limiting beliefs, interpretations and assumptions about what’s happening, but it is perhaps the most powerful of all.
It’s your world and you can create it as you wish. Remember, what one person sees as stressful, another person barely notices and another sees as exciting and full of opportunity. How are you going to choose to paint your reality today?
Curious about the energetic signature of your own habitual responses to circumstances? Start reclaiming your power of conscious constructive choice by signing up below for a 60-minute complimentary coaching session.
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