Robert Sapolsky, PhD in his wonderful book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, says there are two things humans are most afraid of in life: fearing the unknown and fearing loss of control. You want to know what is going to happen next and you want to know that we can maneuver things to be in our best interest.
When you read these words, don’t they seem a little silly? Who knows what will happen tomorrow? And just when you think we have everything under control, something unexpected happens, right?
So you are most stressed out by two things that you can’t have: control and predictability.
What’s worse is that the more financially successful you are, the more fear you will lose what you have. This includes your status, possessions, relationships, and dreams.
Throughout my coaching career, I’ve had many clients who came to me at a very successful stage in their lives, at least from outward appearances. They had made a lot of money, they liked their work, they had supportive and healthy relationships and they had no serious health problems.
However, they vacillated between feeling angry or anxious throughout the day. Why were they unable to enjoy their achievements?
I found two areas missing in their lives: 1) the ability to enjoy the moment and let the future play itself out as it may and 2) goals based on “who” they are instead of what they acquire so they could find purpose in their being instead of their doing.
Whether you are just starting to see gains in your life or you have a long tally of goals you have achieved, the following tips will help you maintain the feeling of mastery over your destiny.
TIP #1: Recognize that the more you try to hold on to what you have today, the greater is your stress. Ask yourself each morning, “What is at stake today, really?” Then ask, “If anything is at stake, what can I do to make today’s story turn out well?” Quit focusing on what you might lose or what the end result might be. Focus on living a wonderful story every moment and you’ll feel a sense of freedom like never before. Then….
TIP #2: Trust that whatever happens, things will always work out because they always do. It is impossible to perfectly handle everything. Accidents happen. Misunderstandings occur. To err is human. However, catastrophes are rare. Up to now, you have handled difficulties, pain, and crisis well enough to be where you are today. Trust that if problems occur, you have the skills and wisdom to deal with them. Then shift your thoughts to what you are grateful for.
TIP #3: If your entire life is focused on achieving external goals, you will feel empty once you reach them. However, if instead you focus on how successful you can be as a human, you will never run out of things to work on. Make a list of what makes you a worthy friend, partner, and parent. Add to the list the special gifts you possess that helped you to realize the successes, large and small, in your life.
Once you have your list, tell yourself, “My only responsibility is to maximize my positive traits, talents, and gifts.” Whenever you feel a little unsure or powerless, read your list and recite the statement above. What would your life be like if the only decision you had to make was how you can contribute to your world based on your talents, traits, and gifts?
In my new book, Wander Woman, I say, “The illusions you live by set you up for the inevitable disillusions you experience.” It is an illusion to think you will know exactly what will happen or be in total control. The best you can do is let go of grasping at thin air. When you do, you will know freedom. And you will better see what a beautiful life you have.