Last week, I was driving down one of the canyons in Los Angeles, quickly moving the steering wheel left and right as the road twisted and turned. It was like playing an arcade game, trying to keep your car on the virtual road, going as fast as you can. In those videos, the sharp curves keep switching and obstacles suddenly appear, causing you to crash and burn if you’re not reacting fast enough.
It may be fun to play on a screen but what about when life itself mirrors this wild experience? If you find yourself in the midst of a constant stream of challenges, threatening to devastate you, you’re probably looking for a way to tone down the level of your reactions and emotions. Here are two ways to begin:
Give up the illusion of control. If you’re a sandwiched boomer, you’ve probably already noticed that you don’t have very much control over the way your growing children or aging parents behave. Juggling work and parenting responsibilities, do you still somehow hold on to the belief that you can determine the way those around you act? This is the time to let go of your unrealistic expectations and the belief that you can create a perfect outcome. What you can change is how you react to what comes your way. Choose to focus on looking inside as you shift to more positive emotions. And turn the challenges coming at you as opportunities for growth.
Give up the guilt. When things don’t turn out the way you expect, do you blame yourself? Whether it’s trouble maintaining a balance between work and family or your needs and your partner’s, don’t beat yourself up for your choices – learn from them. Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, forgive yourself, let go of your negative feelings and allow yourself the opportunity to regroup and try something else. You’re doing the best you can so give yourself some credit and ease up. After all, you’re human, not all-knowing, and you deserve another chance. Friends can give you support and perspective as you share your feelings and concerns.
Stop by again Wednesday for more tips on plotting a course for yourself. And if you’re stressed from dealing with the ups and downs of the economy, consider our ebook, Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm: Practical Strategies and Resources for Success.