After years of education, private practice and my own journey, I believe that in order to truly have more joy and less stress, it is important for you to perform well in relationships. Did you ever think about the fact that you actually perform in relationships? This is an area most people don’t even consider, when they look at improving their performance in sports or at work or with their hobbies. You perform in everything you apply yourself to in life. The problem is that you don’t always put emphasis or priority on all of the areas in your life that are absolutely important. Relationships are one of those areas.
Most of us seem to just kind of take relationships for granted, and not prioritize them in the sense of needing to improve our performance. We don’t always apply our efforts to the best of our ability in relationships, or being the best we can possibly be. We will do it for sports, hobby or work, but not necessarily in this area. If we do, we will really see our joy increase and stress decrease significantly.
So what I have seen and come to believe, then, is that you have the potential for less stress and greater joy by improving your relationship performance. It’s the relationship with yourself, family, others…different kinds of circles around you that make up all of your typical relationships. You have the closest circle which contains the most intimate relationship (your significant other), your family and children. Then as you move out a little, you have close friends; move out a little more and you have acquaintances; out a little more are neighbors; and further out are those people you see less frequently. The level of acceptance you have for each individual in your various circles has a lot to do with your level of joy and stress.
Also in your innermost circle, is your relationship with yourself. It is actually the closest relationship you have as far as physical relationships. And if you are a religious or spiritual individual, then your ultimate closest relationship is with your higher power – there is no physical separation there. So acceptance in all your physical relationships; having greater love, appreciation and compassion, will significantly decrease and may even completely eliminate the level of stress you will experience and feel in your body as you perform in those relationships.
You also have a relationship with life, which covers everything outside of you…everything in the physical world that you watch going on. It’s what happens in your career, schooling, your children’s lives, in your neighborhood, and all the situations around you. How much acceptance do you have of them? I need to clarify here, because this comes up all the time with clients: acceptance does not mean complacency. So you don’t have to fear that this means becoming lazy or uncaring. I mean acceptance as far as seeing what is being offered as the reality of the moment, and if you are going to be upset with it or not accepting, then you are not accepting what is real. What you would be doing then, is accepting an illusion in your mind instead of accepting what is really happening. That would not help you increase your joy or reduce your stress, but instead would probably make matters worse for you.
To delve a little deeper into relationship performance and its effects on joy and stress, I would like to address the following quote: “When you are able to see the effects of your actions on others, you have learned one of life’s most important lessons.”
When you are able to feel, not even see, but feel the effects of your actions on others, you have learned one of life’s most important lessons. How often do you pause and maybe watch and feel the emotional reaction of the person you are speaking to, because of the words you just said? How often do you stop and feel the effects of something you physically did or a choice you made, and pause long enough to see how it is affecting others around you?
What I am suggesting is that you step outside of yourself; or rather, to step out of your own ego…the part of you that thinks: “I’m right, I know how things should be, I know how this needs to be handled, I’m going to do it my way, that person doesn’t know or understand what I know”. All of those kinds of thoughts or beliefs come from the ego of yourself, and you are capable of stepping out of that and observing it in action. You can watch your ego at work, and also watch other people’s egos as well.
When we are in ego, we think: “We are absolutely right, this is absolutely the way it should be, and I’m going to make it happen this way”, or at least we attempt to. That is the secret behind it: the ego thinks it is going to make things happen but it has very little ability and ends up like tires spinning in the mud. It tries and tries and tries, but doesn’t get very far. That causes lots of stress. A lot of stress comes from believing: “I am right, and that is wrong; I am right, she doesn’t know; I am right, he has no clue what he’s talking about”. That kind of thinking contributes to lots of stress, but can be eliminated with a little effort.
Obviously stress affects your body. You can feel the effects when you pause, meaning that you are present in the moment and get out of your own agenda long enough to see the cause and effect of what is happening right now. You can stop and see the cause and effect right now of your words on this situation, people around you or a particular person, because cause and effect happens repeatedly, continually, all the time. There is no true beginning point – I want you to know that. It is not like your one action created this one effect. It is repeated action, years of action, years of words, all combining and contributing to the effects that you are seeing. But you want to know also that you are still contributing to every moment of every relational interaction, so you can be mindful of your words and actions on the level of joy and stress you and the other person experience.
What should you do to improve your relationship performance? Continue to do what you believe is best, but do what you believe is best for the entire situation – not just according to your agenda. Feeling the effects of your actions on others is an extremely powerful and positive skill that you can learn, but also to just be more aware of. Your capability in this area already exists. It is a matter of whether or not you are able to do it because of a choice you make to pay attention and work mindfully to be selfless, more observant and careful of how you affect others. As you do, you will feel yourself experiencing greater joy and less stress, and your relationships will most likely improve as well.
This is one of life’s most important lessons and absolutely one of the most foolproof ways of decreasing stress and increasing your joy. You can make a choice right now to be more present and mindful in every moment of your day, in order to feel the effects you have on others. The only thing that needs to occur differently, is to just be in the moment. It may sound easy, but it takes a lot of work and effort. It is the kind of mental training I teach my athlete clients, in coaching them towards being more present. It helps them to be more focused rather than in the future or past where the analytical mind can wander. The end result is an improvement in their sport performance. Hopefully for you, your relationships will improve, along with your level of joy and a decreased level of stress.
If you would like more help applying this, please contact me by email or my website. I wish you well as you apply this to your life and you see your relationships improve, your stress level decrease and your joy increase. Thanks for reading, and have an amazing day!
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