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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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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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Is there a Gap Between your Responsibilities and Skills?

Gap between responsibilties and skillsWe all know that it’s tougher now than it’s ever been with more demands and fewer resources and with competition stronger* than it’s ever been.

This means that those at the top, under pressure to achieve, have bigger and bigger expectations of those they manage.  If they don’t they’ll be out on their ear with the mortgage to pay and food to put on the table.

This in turn often means that people may be given more responsibility than their skills are equipped for.  But if you too are in fear of losing your job, you just keep on keeping on, feeling less and less confident, with your results not matching your own expectations, never mind anyone else’s.

Now, if that doesn’t cause stress, I don’t know what does.

But what to do about it?  It’s not the easiest one to manage but here are some ideas:

  • Make a list of the skills you do have, and your strengths. These are providing you more support than you realise.  So, it’s important to bring them to front of mind so you can exploit them.
  • Make a list of where your skills are falling short. How is it impacting your work?  Are there any of your strengths that can fill in the gap?  For example, if negotiating isn’t one of your strengths, but you are creative, allow your creative part to come up with some approaches next time the need arises.  It’s usually when we are up close and personal with a problem that the solution seems to elude us.  When you think in advance, your mind has time and space to think of suitable solutions without the pressure of the moment.
  • Learn from a colleague. We all have different strengths.  What you lack someone else will have.  And vice-versa.  Learn from each other.
  • Ask yourself “what would so-and-so do in this situation?” It’s amazing how your mind can deliver an answer that, at a conscious level, you didn’t know you knew.  But this question helps bring it into conscious awareness.
  • Challenge limiting beliefs. “I can’t” is a belief system.  I too often tell myself that I can’t do technology.  But if I give myself the time and space, I can work it out.  I am just impatient about learning it.  So my beliefs (and patience) get in the way.  I can do technology!
  • Practice, practice, practice. It’s boring but true.  Just because you can’t do something now, doesn’t mean that you will never be able to do it.  If you think about your ability to walk.  That came from thousands of attempts as a toddler when you fell down and got up again.  So it is with skill-building.  As a toddler you learned lots of ways to refine the skill and developing the right muscles, and now you don’t have to think about which foot you are using next and how to apply it.  It’s the same as learning any skill.
  • Ask for a role which plays to your strengths. This may or may not be available, so you’d need to be aware of options open to you and build a solid case as to why you should be given that opportunity.  Or find a new one elsewhere.
  • Finally, if you need training (or coaching), ask for it. Of course these cost money, but if you do a business case for it showing how much more value you could bring to your role for this comparatively small investment, versus the cost of hiring that skill in and all the downtime (and risk) associated with a new employee, training – and coaching – are really good investments.

I hope this article has given you some options about bridging the gap between your role and your skills.  As always, if you would like further help – whether it is identifying the skills you need or helping you build them –  do feel free to call me on 0834 130 0854.  You’ll be glad you did.

*By stronger I mean more prolific.  Everyone has a similar struggle so it’s how you deal with it that really matters.

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Sources of Negative Stress – High Targets

How to Deal with the Stress of High TargetsIn the latest in the series of Sources of Negative Stress we are going to address the thorny issue of high targets.

Targets are a useful way to focus the mind and channel your efforts towards an intended goal.  In some ways it can take the pressure off:  if you are juggling too many demands it helps you to concentrate on one, unimpeded.  There is a freedom in that, as long as you are able to ‘let go’ of, reschedule, or delegate the rest.  Otherwise, it is just stress, stress, stress.

But if the target is overwhelmingly high, it can trigger the fight-flight-freeze response .  Though these are a natural reaction to stress, they don’t solve the problem and would likely make it worse.  How?  Here are some examples together with ten strategies to help you:

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The Stress of Keeping Up Appearances

The Stress of Keeping Up AppearancesThis is the second article in the Sources of Negative Stress series and, in the light of the tragic suicide of the gifted and successful designer, Kate Spade, I thought it would be timely to talk about the stress of keeping up appearances.

Struggling alone

Early reports say that Kate Spade was unwilling to risk the public discovering her depression if she sought help, so she struggled alone, self-medicating with alcohol. The problem when we self-medicate is that it doesn’t help us deal with the underlying problem – it simply masks it. The underlying problem just festers and festers until you implode, or seek the right kind of help.

The burden of trying to keep up appearances could not be heavier, or the consequences worse. The façade of the perfect life, perfect business, perfect relationship is just too much for anyone to sustain.   And the price is just too high.  

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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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Time: Spend, Invest or Fritter?

Time ManagementWe all have 1440 minutes every day.  Yet some people seem to achieve so much and others barely make a dent on their good intentions.  And yet others seem to be incredibly busy achieving absolutely nothing, least of all a sense of achievement or fulfilment.  There are many reasons this could be true and one way to think about it is to consider how you use your time according to how much you do of each of the following:

Spend Time

Spending time is doing things which are either nurturing to the soul or maintaining.  They are necessary for balance and to keep you on track.

Examples include

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The Problem with Black and White Thinking (2 minutes to read)

Black and white thinkingBlack and white thinking (also known as all or nothing thinking) can be really useful when you need a quick decision which has an absolute answer:  something is right or wrong, good or bad.  A decimal point in the wrong place can have a huge impact, even though the mistake itself is small.  “I nearly got it right” won’t hack it with the bank manager.  Someone coming at you with a knife?  Bad, and a clear signal to cut and run – no time to wonder at their intentions.  So, black and white thinking can be helpful.

But not often.  What it doesn’t allow for are the shades of grey in between.  It polarises thinking and is often a factor in

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