17 October 2007

Feeling Inadequate? Not Coping? Five Tips to Help You Get By

How many hats do you wear in a day?

For most of us the various roles we take on or that are forced upon us as
adults are enough to drive us crazy! Often we feel we're
just not reaching the mark - be it in one or all of the activities we set
out to perform.

It is human nature (generally) to want to do our best in all that we do. This creates
immense pressure and stress when we are carrying out our different roles -
parent, employer, employee, leader, student, spouse, etc.

So how do we cope?

Well, of course there are the 'chicken' methods which can be very tempting
but totally destructive - resorting to alcohol or substance abuse or even
the less abusive practices such as laziness, procrastination and escapism.

Here are some more constructive suggestions to help you deal with the often
overwhelming sense of not coping:

1. Step Back and Assess Priorities

Take some time out to BREATHE! You may feel you don't have the time to do
this, but it definitely does help. Just taking a few minutes at the start of
the day to assess the important tasks and prepare some kind of schedule will
make you feel more in control of your situation. (I don't particularly like
using the word 'tasks' because it implies 'duty' and in allocating your time
it is vital to allow for maintaining your relationships, and your own quiet
time. These should never be regarded as 'duties'!)

2. Is It Absolutely Necessary?

Believe it or not, not all situations are life-or-death! Attention to detail
is noble and can be impressive. However, unless you're a surgeon or the
likes, you'll find you can often get by with far less detail than you think
you need. A good question to ask before starting to do something is; "Is
this really important right now?" or "Is there anything I should be doing
right now that is more important?"

(Cari Vollmer from LifeOnTrack.com has written a great article, "Is Good
Enough, Really Good Enough?"
, to help you alleviate those feelings of
inadequacy. She gives a very simple, two-word answer to the dilemma. You can
read it here.)

3. Live in the 'Now'

If you've planned your day (point 1 above), there should be no reason to
crowd your mind with things that 'still need to be done'. Things such as
focus, effort, enthusiasm, positive attitude... all contribute to increasing
your levels of productivity and satisfaction.

If you're doing something you like - enjoy and make the most of it.

If it's something you don't enjoy - remember, some things just have to be
done and "all time must pass". Focus on getting it done.

4. Be Flexible

You must have learnt by now that you cannot plan everything down to the T
and expect that it will always work out that way. Sorry, but life's just not
like that. Great if all goes according to plan, but be mentally and
emotionally prepared for times when things don't quite work out as planned.
The trick is to be flexible and 'go with the flow'. You'll find that often a
'Plan B' or even a 'Plan C' work out just as well. Most times, you're the
only one who ever knew there even was a 'Plan A'! This doesn't mean you need
to spend all your time strategizing various plans - not at all! Just be
flexible - be prepared to make a quick change to your plans (or thoughts) if
you need to.

5. Stay Calm

"More haste, less speed". So the saying goes. Get yourself into a tizzy
about all you need to cope with and you're almost guaranteed to achieve
nothing. What you might achieve is an early book-in to the local rehab and a
whole bunch of unhappy people around you!

A great method for staying calm is:

  • Stop.
  • Don't say a word.
  • Breathe (sounds obvious, but notice whether you're holding your breath or
    not next time you're about to lose your temper!)
  • Breathe again. And again. And again. At least five times.
  • If you need to speak, quickly run through points 1 - 4 above in your mind.
  • Take action only after you've weighed up all the possibilities and you're
    certain that your decision is the best one for you (and others, if they're
    involved) at this particular time.

These tips may not help to take away the responsibilities you might have.
They may not even reduce much of the pressures you have to cope with. But
keeping them in mind and practicing them will help you to deal with the
issues more constructively. This in turn will make you, and those around
you, much happier and you'll definitely gain back some sense of order.

Just give it a try.

This article (c) Colleen Wilkinson, lifeisabuffet.co.za