The two major keys to getting along with family, friends and anyone else are self-control and self-confidence. These intentionally developed character traits let a person respond to stress, not to merely react to it. That’s the difference between a superior character and someone who leaves a lot of unhappy people all around them.
Now that you know that, you can pay better attention to what you’re good at, the accomplishments you’ve made, and when you’ve prevented yourself from saying or doing something that you’d regret. Keep doing those things, and recite your list of accomplishments in your mind, heart, and even into a mirror. The effort can refine your personality to the point that stress will stop being a constant companion. You might even enjoy the admiration that people grow to feel for you!
What about the rest of life, such a list of to-dos that could drive any mental health professional, let alone their clients, nuts? Take the tasks on one at a time. It’s the key to mental health for anyone.
Normal people feel overwhelmed by the many things that we need to do, often at someone else’s insistence and sometimes to our total surprise. Plenty of things can go wrong in the process, and often the ones that leave you feeling uncomfortable or amazingly stupid. Murphy’s Law translates into every language on the planet. Rather than try to meet every need at once, keep the demands on your mind and body realistic: Don’t try to handle the whole list of demands at once. Minimize the chances for mistakes and oversights.
Consider your priorities. What needs to be done first, second and third? Who else should be involved? When are they available to work with you? Adjust your mind and schedule to be willing to work with them, too. Prepare the tools you’ll need – including check-off lists. Be sure to set time aside in your day-planner and meet expectations plus needs. Stress will melt away as you meet your goals.
Be sure to keep things in perspective, though. Prepare yourself for critics, especially those who aren’t fair. Manipulative people try to take people on guilt trips. Don’t go on them. Guilt robs a person of hope and happiness. It also promotes a desire to sabotage success, even if you’ll suffer from the sabotage, too. Practice making assertive statements such as “I can do X, Y, Z, and I need for you to take care of A, B, and C. That will let us achieve the goal. Teamwork is important to this task.” Another way to ward of a critic is to say something like “I’ll need some training to do that competently. What’s available to me?” If the person keeps on tying to motivate you with meanness, say “I appreciate the need to get this done, but I can only work with mutual respect. Treat me as an intelligent, motivated (fill in the blank with the correct word: colleague, relative, etc.) and I will work with you to meet our mutual goal.” You also might find it helpful to use a buffer for the completion date of a given task. Plan to meet your goal earlier than asked for. That lets you have recovery time to repair errors or mishaps, and still meet expectations when they’re due, and with pride.
Change is a difficult thing to accomplish; it takes time to get things right. Failure is a teacher for how to improve, not a source of shame. Keep working on the above suggestions and watch what happens to your blood pressure. You, your doctor and everyone around you will probably like the results.
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