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Source of Negative Stress: Regrets

Stress and regretIt’s hard not to get through life without a sense of regret:  something you did which you shouldn’t have done; something you didn’t do which you should have.  We’ve all had those moments.  And of course sometimes there are consequences which could not be foreseen and for which we chastise ourselves nevertheless.

The repercussions can be subtle or profound.  But, internally, guilt or shame can be uncomfortable consequences.  And it can really impact your stress levels.

What do you regret?

  • Not putting enough effort in
  • Not thinking through possible consequences of a decision
  • Not planning contingencies in case things don’t go well
  • Not being honest enough
  • Not being diplomatic enough
  • Not being good enough
  • Something else?

The list goes on.  But, what’s important to know is that the past is irretrievable.  The present is all there is because the future hasn’t happened yet.

So, what to do?  First of all, understand the difference between guilt and shame.

The difference between guilt and shame

Guilt is the concept that you did something bad; shame is the concept that you are bad.  One is about behaviour, the other is about identity.  Too often we let shame be our judge and shame is a destructive emotion which belittles, dishonours and disconnects.   It certainly skews perspective and can paralyse.

Remedial action

Where possible to take remedial action:

  1. Correct the mistake.
  2. Make a sincere apology. Never underestimate the effect of this.  An apology takes humility and courage.  Done well, it can build bridges and restore – and even create – trust.  Certainly for me, if I have experienced very bad customer service, my faith is not only restored if I have received a heartfelt apology but actually I can become fiercely loyal to someone who has had the integrity to apologise:  it is such a rare trait.
  3. Learn from your mistake. I like to think of not letting anything be wasted:  the problem is wasted if you do not learn and grow from it.  What is the lesson in this?  How can you avoid this happening again, without shrinking into obscurity?  Remember that the only way you don’t make mistakes is if you don’t achieve anything.  And that’s a whole different level of mistake:  opportunities lost, potential unfulfilled and even more stress.

Yes, regret can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to define you.

If you are stuck in regret and need additional help, do call me on 0345 130 0854.  You don’t have to do this alone.

 

© Tricia Woolfrey

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Source of Negative Stress: Deadlines

Stress and deadlines
As we near the end of my series of articles on sources of negative stress, we will explore the common stressor:  deadlines.  Deadlines can certainly add to your sense of stress, especially if there is a lot at stake:  perhaps your reputation, or a valued customer, or an important sale which is the difference between making target or not.

Yet, without deadlines, tasks can stretch to fill the time available.  And, of course, if there is no deadline, the time available is all the time in the world.  That is until the consequences are felt too strongly and too late to do anything about it.

There are five main questions to consider about deadlines:

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Source of Stress: Failure

Source of Stress: FailureI doubt there is a person alive who enjoys the prospect or experience of failure.  But for those who value success, failure is a necessary part of that journey.

A popular NLP concept is that ‘there is no failure, only feedback’.  And Thomas Edison really understood this principle when he viewed his many attempts to create a commercially viable lightbulb not as failure but that he had found 10,000 ways in which it did not work.

What this shows is that success is a process.  That you have to learn to get up when you fall down; learn from your mistakes; and have a relentless vision to keep you going.

Famous Failures

Any person who has failed in any endeavour will be in good company – other ‘failures’ include:

Steve Jobs who was fired from his own company;

Walt Disney who was fired for lack of imagination;

Oprah Winfrey who was demoted as a new anchor for being unfit for TV;

The Beatles who were rejected by Decca  who didn’t like their sound and thought they had no future in show business;

Einstein who couldn’t speak until he was 4 and whose teachers said he wouldn’t amount to much;

Bill Gates, a dropout from Harvard, founded Traf-o-Data.  The product had too many bugs and the company closed.  He is now the richest man in the world;

Marilyn Monroe who was told by Colombia Pictures that she wasn’t pretty or talented enough to be an actress.

So, you see, failure is not an affliction.  It doesn’t have to define you.  It is your attitude to it that defines you.  With all the people mentioned, they used it to spur them on.  They learned from their mistakes so that they could improve, and improve some more.  And improve again.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers describes the ‘10,000 hour rule’, emphasising that success is rarely by accident but rather by practice.  Somehow, in this world of ‘instant fixes’ we have lost sight of the fact that anything worth having takes effort.  And persistence.  And the ability to not take things personally but rather to use every challenge on the ladder towards success, knowing that you will slide down the odd snake as you work your way up, only so that you develop resilience, resourcefulness and insights that will serve you well.

The Three Worst Things You Can Do

If you make a mistake, the three worst things you can do are:

  1. Pretend it didn’t happen. Denial is no friend.
  2. Take it personally. Blaming and shaming get in the way of learning and growing.  Think of the difference between “I am a failure” and “It was a failure”.  One is a about identity and the other is about process and results.
  3. Give up.  When you give up, you miss opportunities.  Sometimes success us just around the corner.  You also deny yourself the sense of achievement you can only get when you have worked hard to achieve something, navigated difficult waters, climbed a mountain or five, and made it.  You don’t get that sense of achievement when everything is easy.

Show me a person who has not failed at some point in their lives and I will show you someone who has not reached their potential or who has lived within the safe but entirely unexciting and unrewarding confines of their comfort zone.

If you would like more help in overcoming a fear of failure, or learning how to grow from failure, why not book a session?  You’ll be glad you did.

 

(C) Tricia Woolfrey 2019

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Sources of Negative Stress: New Year Expectations

Stress of New Year Expectations

New Year: Make it Happen

The New Year is always full of expectations.  One week into the New Year and I am noticing three things:

  • One person is completely fired up and wants to leverage this focus and energy to get her year off to a great start – she’s sick of the excuses she had throughout the last year
  • Several who started with very good intentions which have already fallen by the wayside in the face of competing demands
  • Several more who have started the year overwhelmed and not sure where to start

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Sources of Negative Stress: Perfectionism

Perfectionism is StressfulYou may say that it’s good to have standards.  And I would agree:  taking pride in your work is a reflection of you and your business.  With competition fierce, you want to make sure that you are showing the level of quality you bring whether as an individual or a business.

However, if perfectionism becomes your tyrant, it can be your biggest source of stress and so can undo much of the good work you are trying to achieve, because when we get too stressed, performance suffers.

It’s important to remember that perfectionism is not a human condition.  It is, though, a direction to aim for.  And if perfectionism has become your tormentor, it may actually impede results. I have clients whose perfectionism stops them from finishing anything for fear of a mistake being discovered; or even starting something in case they can’t live up to their own ideals.  Or it may be that they are working in a blame culture which can have a toxic impact throughout the organisation.

Perfectionism and Procrastination

Perfectionism can be a key factor in procrastination and most people can’t afford the delays which come with it.  Is it better that a deadline is met, an outcome achieved, or that results wait as perfection is honed?

Perfectionism and Fear of Failure

If the issue is fear of failure, understand that avoidance feeds into the fear so you feel more stuck and helpless each time you give in to it.  The longer it goes on, the more entrenched the behaviour is.  I don’t think I have ever seen a constructive partnership between fear of failure and perfectionism in all the years I’ve been coaching – it’s a bit like having your foot on the brakes and the accelerator at the time – so it’s a important issue to address before the consequences catch up with you.

Mistakes and Attitude

It isn’t the making of mistakes which is important but what you do about it afterwards.  From my own experience, my biggest loyalty and respect goes to those people/businesses who made a mistake but did a really good job of remedying it – especially their attitude about it.  If they take the ‘It wasn’t my fault’ approach, that does nothing to build loyalty or confidence in them.  In addition, blame culture cripples creativity and growth.

Improve and Evolve

Mistakes are our best teacher – it’s the best way to improve your skills and your processes, if you use it as an opportunity.

What is Good Enough?

For most situations the 80/20 rule works well:  80% good enough is good enough.  Usually the 20% doesn’t have a significant bearing on the results of an endeavour.  So, when perfectionism is causing you to take too long, miss deadlines or even opportunities, consider the cost of that 20% versus the result it would have given you. Better that something is done 80% well than not done at all in the majority of situations.

A Final Word on Perfectionism

Look on perfection as a direction rather than a despot.  Learn how to manage expectations and disappointments and use mistakes to help you develop.  Then, step by step, you will evolve your skills, increase your confidence, and lower your stress.

To your success.

 

 

 

© Tricia Woolfrey

 

PS  If you still feel perfectionism is driving you and you want to know how to manage yourself and others around this subject, do call for support.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Sources of Stress: Fears about the future

Stress: Fear about the future

 

Stress.  In our VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), it is no wonder that fears about the future are high at the moment.  And, let’s face it, what’s more stressful than fear?

There is so much to think about, so much which is uncertain and unclear, and the risks are bigger than ever, so your stress levels can be sky-high.

But as the saying goes, it is what it is.  The ability to accept reality, without losing sight of vision, hope and motivation are key components.  And that’s easy for me to say, I know.  So, how do you do that?

Here is my 9-Point Plan to help you:

 

 

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How is Your Mental Health?

World Mental Health Day and Stress

It’s World Mental Health Day until the 10th  and I thought I would give you a heads up as a part of my Causes of Stress series.  Since my work revolves around performance, productivity, stress resilience and health and energy, mental health is at the centre of it all so it is a good time to reflect on it and to share with you something to help make sure that yours is optimal.

You see, we all have mental health.  The question is not whether you have it but in what condition it’s in.  Would you describe yours as Optimal?  Functional?  Variable?  Or On the Floor?  There are three main components to mental ill-health:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Of course, it isn’t as simple as that but it’s a really good start.  There will be times when you feel you can do anything, but there will be times when you do feel stressed, depressed or anxious and each day feels like you’re wading through treacle, with weights on your ankles and a monkey on your back.

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Sources of Negative Stress: Regrets

Stress, regrets and hindsightIf you are living with regrets, it can feel as though the past is ever-present, tarnishing what is good and holding you back.   Yes, regrets can be stressful.  They can certainly keep you awake at night.  They can also affect how you manage, and engage in, your daily life.

Regrets can be for something you did which you shouldn’t have or something you should have done which you didn’t.

In the moment that you do something (or decide not to), you do so with our best thinking at the time.   As someone

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Sources of Stress: Overwhelm

OverwhelmWho doesn’t experience overwhelm sometimes?  Although it doesn’t happen to me often, when it does, it is as though I am driving in first gear, without my Satnav and only brain fog for company.  It is a sign I have left things too long and I need to start taking control now, if not sooner.  Is this something you recognise in your life?

If only we could have demands, duties and deadlines flow in at exactly our preferred work rate.  Enough to keep us engaged and feeling productive.  But not so much that the stress of it damages our results and sense of worth.

But this is the real world.  We can rarely control the amount of work and demands we experience, but we can control our response to them so that we feel more productive, more empowered and less stressed.  In this article, I share my top ten:  ones I use with my clients and also on myself when overwhelm strikes.

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Are you a statistic?

One in three suffer mental health at workI’ve been doing talks recently about stress, mental health and wellness at work.  And one of the statistics which people find most alarming is that almost one in three people have experienced either unmanageable stress or mental ill-health at work (depression or anxiety).  62% of people attribute this in full or in part to work.

It isn’t surprising when we consider our VUCA world:  volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.  Never has it been harder to get ahead, stay ahead and enjoy the journey.  We expect more from less and the scope, scale and speed of business is an ever-changing landscape.

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