Changing Our Point of View Can Help Us Achieve Work-Life Balance
Our health and happiness depend on maintaining a balance between our professional and private lives. In the excerpt below, author Bryan E. Robinson explains how to stop stressing by changing our point-of-view.
DARE TO ADVENTURE
If you look at your life from a bird’s-eye view, what would you see? Dread of another pressure-cooker day? Or exciting challenges that lie ahead? Would you push through the minutes with your head stuck in newspapers, smartphones, and email? Or would you begin to look at people as intriguing, engaging them in conversation and showing renewed interest in what they have to say? Would you snap at loved ones or try to be more patient with their human fallibilities without trying to change them?
When you think you’ve seen and done it all, these are only habitual thoughts that you can change. You have the power to change your daily grind simply by the view you take of it. If you live each day with an open heart, as a first-time experience, something magical happens. Life takes on a shimmering glow. You have a renewed outlook, a deeper appreciation for yourself, and a richer satisfaction out of life. You feel compassion for others, perhaps those you ignored or took for granted. You gain respect for coworkers and your job. Learn to rediscover each new day as a song to sing and an adventure to dare instead of a grind to endure.
Most overachievers have a disease that psychologist Albert Ellis coined “musturbation”—bowing
to the demands of others, the world, and the negative self-talk. If you suffer from this malady, your work and personal life are ruled by oppositional terms such as should, ought, must, and have to.
“I must win that contract”; “I must get that promotion”; “My family must do what I say”; “Others must see my point of view”; “Life must be easier than this.” These self-imposed mandatory rules have a powerful effect on your outlook, feelings, and actions. Musturbation gives rise to frustration, anger, and depression. And it drives your overdoing when inevitably the world and other people don’t conform to your “musterbatory rules.”
By asking if your self-talk is compassionate or oppressive, you become more aware of what you require of yourself and choose more supportive, comforting words: “I can do my best to win that contract” or “Although life won’t always be easy, I can still meet its challenges.” Replacing mandatory statements with empowering words puts you more in charge instead of at the mercy of situations. And it enhances your well-being.
DETHRONE THE INNER BULLY
If you’re like most taskmasters, you have an inner bully that runs your life. It kicks you around and keeps you focused on your flaws so you constantly feel as if you’re struggling. The workaholic’s solution? Work longer and harder. Yet immersing yourself in tasks mires you deeper into the problem. That’s why it’s called work addiction. Of course, that’s not the real solution.
The real solution is to develop more self-kindness to chill your sself-judgment And that solution is backed up by studies that show encouragement and self-support are game changers. The more self-compassion you have, the greater your emotional arsenal and the higher your job performance and ability to maintain work/life balance.
Self-compassion limits the distress that leads to self-castigation. Chilled workers can admit their mistakes without self-condemnation. Where do you stand? When your inner bully kicks you when you’re down, amp up your kind, compassionate side, pick yourself up, and brush yourself off. As you hop back in the saddle, forgive and support yourself with encouragement and lovingkindness.
WORK “AS IF”
Raise your hand if nonstop working has hampered your ability to express feelings, if you’re stumped on how to feel in emotional situations, or if you’d like to feel more intimacy but don’t know how. I thought so. Chances are you have overworked for a long period of time and gotten stuck in one way or another somewhere along the way. But there’s good news. Twelve-Step programs have bandied about a phrase for years called “acting as if.” This principle can help you get through periods of emotional paralysis.
What does it mean to act as if? It is a simple yet powerful tool that says you can create outer circumstances by acting as if they’re already true. You give a certain performance as if it’s how you feel. The mood you pretend becomes a reality. Suppose you’re angry and unforgiving but want to be forgiving toward someone who offends you. You can come to feel forgiving by acting as if you are forgiving. Perhaps you are cold and detached but want to be happy for a coworker’s promotion. You can act as if you are happy—and find you are. Maybe you’re worried about a huge deadline, but you convince yourself it’s easy and tackle the difficulty with enthusiasm instead of dread. When you tell yourself that a challenge is a piece of cake, you might be surprised at how easy an obstacle becomes a cinch to work through.
Worry goes ahead of you like a scouting party before challenging situations. It stalks you before a big day at work and lurks over your shoulder when you’re pitching ideas. The anchor of worry weighs you down and robs you of strength. Even when things go well, you wait for the ax to fall. Worry during both calm and troubled times creates a 24/7, worry-filled life. Living this way creates wear and tear on your mind and body.
If you think of worry as an infiltrating enemy and try to extinguish it, you create an adversarial relationship, which leads to more internal frustration, anxiety, and chaos. It’s counterintuitive, but the key is to forge a new relationship with worry by welcoming and befriending it. Even though you perceive worry to be working against you, it’s actually on your side—a protector, warning of a threat, trying to keep you out of harm’s way. The more you are able to think of worry as your friend, instead of your enemy, the less worry and more chill time you will have.
Excerpted from“#Chill: Turn off Your Job and Turn On Your Life” by Bryan E. Robnson, Ph.D.
This book excerpt was featured in the Jan. 6h edition of The Sunday Paper, Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.