Uncovering the Fear of Losing Control and What to Do About It

I have been battling for a solution to my life-long irritation towards sounds, and recently, I have grown intolerable to the sound my co-worker makes in the cubicle next to mine. The sound of chewing, slurping and clanging on the bowl of cheerios has urged me to flee from the building while pulling the hairs out of my head. This is not a new irritation to me, for I had always been bothered with various sounds others make ever since I was a child, always prompting the same feeling of discomfort and need to run away. Now, I have forced myself to take a deeper look at what the root of this problem has been all of these years because it is beginning to make me have disdain for people I like and impedes my ability to focus.

What I found to be the deeper issue is, not my resentments towards my co-worker or the pitch of the clank on the bowl, but it is my fear of losing control (of my life). You may be asking yourself, “What the heck does that have to do with people making annoying sounds?” right? It does sound far-fetched but let me explain with a more obvious example. Why do we get so irritated and impatient when we are stuck in traffic? It is because things are not going our way, or as we planned. If it was up to us, we would never sit in traffic, and since we have no control over it, we are frustrated when we find ourselves idling on the parkway, sitting bumper to bumper. In applying this scenario to the one I am personal struggling with, I find that if it was up to me, there would be silence in all situation and everyone would have perfect food etiquette (like the one I would be so delusional to think I have ;P). Since this is a situation I do not have control over, this same impatience, irritation and need to change circumstance grows and grows as I continue to recognize how much I am losing control over the present. I urge you to think about the times you have felt irritated by something just as trivial, a fight you got into with your partner, or quitting something when things change and became more difficult. Did you ever consider these reactions to be your fear of losing control in some way? The fear of rejection and judgment can even be under the fear of losing control, for we cannot control what people think of us or if they will like us, so this worry and frustration causes us to act in ways we would not if we did not have this need for control.

Now that I know the irritation towards my co-workers cereal chewing, for example, is an indicator of my fear of losing control, what can I do to ease this burden? Can I stop him from eating cereal every day? Can I throw a blanket over my head in an attempt to block out the sound? OR, do I have to change something within myself? Since this is an external irritant, our only viable option in conquering this trigger long-term is to change something within ourselves.

My first step in conquering this irritant was identifying it as a trigger for my fear of losing control. Next, I began to breathe throughout the duration of this occurrence and focus solely on myself and the present moment. Then, I began to affirm that my co-worker is a good person and does not deserve the disdain I am feeling towards him, so I thought of him positively. Finally, understanding that I will NEVER have control over the actions, thoughts and feelings of other people has provided me with a peace which I can apply to other aspects of my life, from my fear of being judged and rejected to my fear of losing control.

Next time you are annoyed with someone or something, take a deeper look to find out if it is because you cannot control it. Instead of acting from a place of fear, recognize it as so and let it go with actions similar to those I took on my own. My co-worker’s cereal chopping is still a bit irritating but to a MUCH lower intensity, so I call that progress.

THE ONLY RESOLUTION YOU WILL EVER NEED TO SET FOR A NEW YEAR

Resolution: Improve my self-awareness.

I strongly believe this is the SOLE and ULTIMATE resolution to be set in replace of all those in the past and future New Year’s.

By committing to a journey towards improving self-awareness, all other life improvements will come as a byproduct. We all set new goals in the New Year to try to improve our self-esteem and make our lives feel richer, right? We begin to think about all that we are not doing, what we do not have and what we want, and formulate these goals based on all of these components. Some of the most popular New Year’s goals are eating healthier, getting more exercise, saving more money, getting more sleep, reading more, getting a new job, etc.

But, what if I told you that we really only needed to set one goal that would lead to the accomplishments of all those proceeding? Sounds good, right? It is easier said than done, but by committing to a journey toward improving self-awareness, we will develop the discipline to lose the weight we wanted because of our improvement in decision making and understanding ourselves, and will also be able to save more money as we become more aware of our priorities and what is truly important.

Perhaps defining self-awareness will assist you as you craft this single goal for the New Year. Self-awareness can be explained as recognizing our thoughts, feelings, emotions and desires, which will in turn allow us to make more reasoned decisions and choices. The constant improvement in this understanding will empower us to lead healthier and happier lives as we make more quality decisions and choices as a result. There are various ways to embark on the journey towards self-awareness. Please see below for four simple practices you can incorporate into everyday that will start you on this path, and take over the New Year!

  1. Meditation
    Through meditation, we allow ourselves a moment of silence, away from the noise in our everyday life. Here, we are able to observe what thoughts have been floating through our mind, and any emotion we are experiencing, prompted from those thoughts. In performing this practice, we are more aware of the various things that may trigger us in a negative or positive way. From here, we have the power to change our reactions to these thoughts and create a new association to them. As we routinely meditate throughout the week, we begin to discover the root of our emotions and are given the power to change them as we see fit. Such awareness will then become part of our everyday encounters, allowing us to manage various challenges and obstacles.
  2. Journaling
    Journaling is another amazing way to reflect on our thoughts and emotions. By putting this into practice, we can visually observe what we are thinking in our minds, and begin to analyze our reactions. Our thoughts are now real and live on paper, as if they have a life of their own. In our journal entry, we can ask ourselves questions like, “What did I do great today?” and “What can I improve on today?” These sort of questions will allow us to reflect on the whole day and revisit when we felt positive, uncomfortable, dissatisfied and/or proud. We can then understand the moments which had been associated with these emotions, and strive to improve our reactions in the more challenging or disappointing moments going forward.
  3. Reading
    Books allow for us to gain more insight into the lives and experiences of others, which we cannot experience ourselves. Reading expands our perspective beyond, assisting us in understanding others and even learning from them. As a result, we begin to empathize with stories, experiences and people who we did not even know existed. We become aware of other’s emotions and the events that lead to these emotions to rationally determine if we wish to be in a similar situation or not. Now, these books have influenced our own decision making and our ability to understand humanity and even a bit about our place in it. We can read specifically about self-awareness and other’s experiences on their own self-awareness journeys. Please visit Books to check out the novels under “Self-Improvement” for suggestions.
  4. Feedback
    This last step is most definitely the most daunting and vulnerable of all previous steps, and quite honestly, something I need to do more of, which is asking for feedback. Who is a better observe of you, you or other people? Of course, other people because otherwise people who chew gum loudly, talk with their mouth full and make conversation with you at the gym while you’re mid-set WOULD NOT BOTHER YOU if THEY knew it was annoying. So, if this is the case, this presents us with a new opportunity to better understand ourselves from other person’s perspective. Maybe we can do this after a big presentation at work, or during a mid-year appraisal review, or maybe more personally, opening ourselves up for feedback from our partner or friend about how we are doing in following through on commitments or listening to them when they tell us about their day. Outside feedback is necessary for us to make a change, because otherwise we may never be aware enough to change it. For example, my partner has pointed out my increase in volume while telling a story in restaurants, which I had not previously been aware of. Now, I look out for it and make the effort to catch myself if I feel the volume may be on the rise (Working on it).

In incorporating these four simple steps into our everyday lives this New Year, we are sure to be on our way to improving self-awareness and making us an overall better person this 2019!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!

 

 

 

 

Quarter-Life Crisis

Most of us have heard about a middle-life crisis, a stage of life stereotypically accompanied by an impromptu purchase of a fancy red sports car and new out-of-character hobbies, but how about a quarter-life crisis? Since it is safe to say that the majority of us at 25 years old are still broke and living with our parents, our quarter-life crisis may not be projected with a luxury car purchase. Conversely, it can be accompanied by overthinking about the future, anxiety about achieving our goals, being unsure about making a new move, and fearing we will not have done enough with our lives by 30 years old.

The irony of having such doubts about ourselves is it can be debilitating and the exact reason we will not achieve our goals. It is easy to look five steps ahead to our ideal life, but how about all of the steps in-between? When we focus too heavily on step five, it hinders us from taking steps one, two, three and four.

So now I beg the question, “Would it be better if we did not set goals at all then?!”

I am not sure about my own response to this question. I believe we do need an objective that will drive us into action, but perhaps my response would have more to do with allowing ourselves to be flexible and do more acting and less planning to inch our way closer to reaching our objectives.

For instance, we should be open to changing our path if interests or lifestyle changes. Sometimes we are too scared to change because of the time and money we already invested in the field we are in, the degrees, the years, the relationships, and to jump into a new field of interest is often less appealing for these reasons. However, if we are not flexible in catering our goals to match our new interests, we will never be able to become that person we envision at step five.

Furthermore, planning less means taking time away from creating a vision board, writing out a five-year plan or creating a business plan, and giving more time to taking action towards our goals.

If you too are going through your own quarter-life crisis, my advice is to put less pressure on yourself, live in the moment, be flexible and focus on taking step one rather than constantly thinking about and planning for step five.

Think about the person at step five. What was the most basic action that person needed to take to get them to where they are? Take it today.

The Power of Likeability

The Power of Likeability is a concept that possesses a greater influence than often realized. How often do we go out of the way to go to a certain gas station, hair dresser or bank teller, for the sheer reason that we like the person we interact with in those instances? Does it mean that this bank teller is the most experienced of all of the tellers in the window? Does the gas station attendant at Exxon pump more skillfully than the one at Shell? Most likely not, and we do not care!

From this observation alone, we can understand what the power of likeability has on our decision making, and how we can use it to our advantage in our own lives. It is so easy to get discouraged from going for a job or pursuing a new career because you feel you are too inexperienced, for example. We have all been there. What happens next much of the time? We allow for inexperience to weight more heavily in our minds as a disadvantage than our real hidden advantage, our likeability. The reality is that we are already well-equip with all of the influence we need to land that job or make that deal as long as you commit to using it!

Likeability is comprised of authenticity, charisma, empathy and confidence. We all possess these characteristics but it is bringing them out.

5 Tips to Be More Likeable:

  1. Be present, be attentive, be yourself.
  2. Make eye-contact and open your body up to audience.
  3. Speak with enthusiasm.
  4. Engage in active listening.
  5. Mirror audience’s speech, pace and tone of voice.

For more likability tips and anecdotes check out the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie!

When we begin to believe in the power of likeability and use this as an advantage in our everyday lives, we will be surprised at how many opportunities will come our way and not because of experience. Try it out, and see what comes your way!

9/11- A Day for Remembrance, A Day for Reminder

First off, God please protect those directly affect by 9/11, and give them the strength to live well. I can only imagine the pain they feel on this day. We remember the souls who left us and hope their loved ones have found peace. These souls shall live on and continue to be a reminder to recognize what is truly important in our lives.

Through the tragedy and sorrow, this day reminds us how precious and fleeting life is. In just an instance, a life can be taken, but this is the reality we often choose not to think about. We much rather comfortably assume that tomorrow will come for us and everyone around us. As a result, we may treat the ones we love unfairly at times.

How many fights have we gotten into with family members over something so trivial, and now we do not speak? How many relationships have we had where we were too prideful or scared to tell the person we love them, and now they are gone? How many times have we yelled at our sibling and angrily walked out the door, taking for granted he or she will be there upon our return? We do this all of the time because of how unaware we are in the moment that things can change in just the same amount of time, one moment.

We can be more aware by actively expressing gratitude for the ones we love daily, not only once per year on their birthday because they or we cannot be guaranteed a next one. The latin phrase, Memonto Morti translates to “One day you will die.” This phrase is not meant to be morbid, for it is simply a reminder of how lucky we are to have today because we cannot be guaranteed tomorrow. If this is still too dark of a principle for you to adopt, more popular phrases like Carpe Diem– “Seize the day” or even Drake’s very own, YOLO– “You only live once,” have been coined to embolden this same principle.

Today I encourage all of us to reach out to the ones we love and tell them how much they mean to us. Think about a moment you have experienced with them and indulge in its memory as if it were happening right now. Take notice of your emotions and the feeling of love this experience with this person gave you.

Today we remember those we lost, as well as those we have for the moment. #neverforget

How to Love the Job You Hate (Pt. 2)

My main commitment to this site is to offer mindset and life advice to anyone who in interested in a DIY sort of approach to self-help. All I can offer is tactics based on my own personal experiences, which have help me greatly.

This posts topic seems to speak to the most people so I will expand upon ways to “love the job you hate.”

The two previous methods I have mentioned were, generally, Self-awareness and Gratitude.

Here, we are encouraged to recognize the tasks or annoyances that bring us negative emotion, and choose to react more positively to them. Furthermore, we are encouraged to reflect upon all of the good in our lives and focus on these in times of difficulty at work or everyday life.

To take these concepts a step further. I will share my specific morning routine, which helped change my mindset about my job and my life.

Mourning Routine:

  • Drink a Glass of Water
  • Brush Teeth
  • Journal Three Things I am Grateful for
  • Journal Three Reasons Why I Am Already Successful
  • 5 Minute Listen to Breath
  • 5 Minute Listen to Positive Audio (TedTalk, AudioBook)
  • 15 Minute Stretch/ Workout
  • 10 Minutes of Reading
  • Give Yourself a Smile in the Mirror

Repeating these simple tasks before going to work will make your day, I guarantee it! You will enter your work day with a sense of accomplishment from the start.

As previously mentioned, a habit typically takes about 30 days to stick, so practice this routine as consistently as possible! Finding this 30 min- 45 min of extra time in the morning will be more than worth in the long run. This is time for yourself, before the world wakes up and starts asking things of you.

You deserve it.

Please contact me in the Contact section or comment with email below if you would like me to email a copy of the Morning Routine Check-Off List I have created. This consists of all of the above tasks in check-off list form for each day of every month! (And it is free, of course).

Enjoy!

 

How to Love the Job You Hate

I was thinking of expanding upon this topic at a later time because of how many people complain about their jobs more than anything. It is understandable! We spend 33% of our days, on average, in the workplace. If we are unhappy for 33% of our days and spend that time just waiting for the other 67% to come, we might as well try to make that 33% of time more satisfying.

Now, to begin, I do not hate my job, personally, but there WAS a time when I could not bear it.

So, what changed? My position? My company? Nope.

The answer is… I did.

Some of you may think your situation is unique. If anyone else had your job, they would hate it too, and there is no way your job can be as bad as theirs. Everyone’s experiences are relative so how can we possibly compare? What may be a great experience for you, may be a terrible experience for me. However, the one thing I think we can all settle on is having the feeling of dread getting ready for work in the morning, feeling that drop in your stomach when you realize it’s Sunday and Monday is creeping behind, or watching the clock with anxiety, frustrated that the time will not hurry the heck up!

If we can agree on all of those emotions, I think it is fair to say we all share in this experience.

Today, I am free from the feeling of dread in the morning, enjoy my sits in traffic to work and home, and I do look at the clock but I no longer curse that slow ticking hand.

I know it might sounds crazy but it also sounds pretty good, right? The good things is everyone has the capability of doing the same, but WE need to change!

So, Alex, that’s great and all but HOW do I change?

Good question. The solutions will vary depending on the person, but all I can share is what I did to change my perspective and ultimately changed my life.

This change came primarily with the adoption of two simple concepts: Self-awareness and Gratitude.

Making these a HABIT is critical in changing your way of thinking and your attitude towards everyday life.

First, having the self-awareness to understand the moments in the day that prompt a certain emotion is critical to making a change. Oftentimes we can all get caught up in this auto-pilot mode, where we react without reason.

For example, when I get a message from a frustrated, rude client who hurts my feelings, my initial, auto-pilot reaction is to tell them off and prove my point. However, this would indicate a lack of self-awareness. My self-aware self then brings reason into the equation. In this moment, I stop, reflect on the emotion I am feeling, which words exactly triggered this emotion, and be proactive about what the client’s response would be if I said something as a reaction rather than a reasoned response. Here, we might want to think twice. At the end of this reflection, most likely, I would resolve to keep it polite and professional. Here, I did not risk my reputation in the matter and felt I was the bigger person in the moment. Simply, “Not a problem. Have a nice night.” Not much too feel bad about after that response, huh?

The assessment of our emotions and our TYPICAL reactions to these emotions allows for us to make adjustments. How could we ever change our behaviors if we are never aware of them in the first place?

To assist in my quest for better self-awareness, I began journaling. While journaling, we are able to express our emotions on paper and read them back. Hmm, why did I feel that way? What can I do in my control to improve my reaction to this event that made me feel this way? Journaling provides us with an avenue to take a deeper dive to get to know ourselves better.

Second, gratitude. There is a Tony Robbins saying that I’m sure I have mentioned before, which I will paraphrase here. “It is impossible to feel sadness while also simultaneously expressing gratitude.” No matter how terrible a job might be, there is SOMETHING in this life I am sure you can find to be grateful for in those moments of frustration with your boss, annoyance with your co-worker, or confrontation with your client.

When you notice the feeling of worry or anxiety in the workday, think of that one person or thing that brings you joy and purpose for being alive and say, “Thank you.” That moment of anxiety just changed to joy by just doing that, if only for a brief moment. But, imagine how the accumulation of all of these brief moments of joy would improve your overall day experience.

Don’t allow for those 33% hours to be wasted in feelings of owe and frustration. Make something out of it! Again, this is a habit we are trying to establish within ourselves. So, the consistent and constant practice of self-awareness and gratitude will be crucial in the success of this how-to. Try these tips out every day for the next 30 days, and see if you notice a difference! Feel free to comment with your results. Enjoy!