When You Hit a Bump Part II: Anger

The path to success is rarely a rocket ship straight up.  It normally involves ups and downs

Path to Successalong the way.  The “downs” are what I call “bumps in the road” and how we respond to to those bumps will determine our level of success.

There are four basic ways to respond to bumps. We have already talked about “denial”.  The second way to respond to a bump is “anger”.    When something does not go perfect, it is easy to lash out at the idiots who are in our way or not performing well enough.  These may be people on our team, in our families or just some random guy who is driving too slowly on the road.

Anger is energizing and can help us get some things done in the short run.  You see this all the time with athletic teams who take an “us against the world” or “nobody respects us” approach to competition.  This works well for single events or short series of events.

The problem is that anger is not a good long term counselor. Anger is based on catabolic energy which is triggered by cortisol and tends to tear down and destroy our bodies long term.  If we consistently respond to bumps with anger, we will get some short term gains, but we run a huge long-term emotional (anxiety and depression) and physical (stress and hypertension) risk.

Anger is like that flashy man or woman you would like to be friends with or date, until you discover that there is not much substance with the style.  The short term gains of anger are not worth the long term damage it will cause.

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When You Hit a Bump Part I: Denial

The path to success is rarely a rocket ship straight up.  It normally involves ups and downs Path to Successalong the way.  The “downs” are what I call “bumps in the road” and how we respond to to those bumps will determine our level of success.  There are four basic ways to respond to bumps.  The first one is denial.  When we ask someone out on a date and get rejected or try out for a team and get cut or go for a job and don’t get it, there is a natural tendency to protect ourselves and say “I didn’t really like her anyways” or “I don’t care about that team” or “That job wasn’t for me.”

Whoa!  Slow down.  Yes, you did like her, that’s why you asked her out.  You did want to make the team, that’s why you did the preseason practices and tried out.  You did want the job, that’s why you researched the company and were excited about the interview.

It is actually OK that you went for it and did not get what you want.  Does it hurt?  Absolutely it does, but the pain will lessen with each passing day.  Own the fact that you went for it, reflect on the results and move on.  When we pretend that we did not care, we halt the grieving process and increase the chances that we will get stuck.  Going for it and not succeeding is what successful people do everyday.  Failing at something does not make you a failure, it just means that this particular event or chapter did not work out.

Own your decisions.  Embrace the pain. Grieve. Heal. Grow.  Move forward.

Indecision is the fuel of Anxiety

I have this big decision coming up about ________________ . I cannot really decide Indecision is the fuel of anxiety..because both options have plusses and minuses.  I want to make sure I make the “right decision”.  The problem is I am becoming so anxious, I do not want to make any decision.”

We live in an age of anxiety that is characterized by many being frozen by bouts of indecisiveness.  We analyze our college choice, our job prospects, our potential spouse and where to go on vacation.  We analyze, then we analyze a little more and then just to be sure, we do one final sweep of analysis.  In the end, we drive ourselves nuts or worse procrastinate our way to a dead-end choice.

Here’s some advice:  Just decide.  In life, 99% of decisions will not ruin your life.  Often there is not one right choice, there are several that are great.  Ask yourself honestly, “What’s the worst thing that could happen from this decision?”  Usually the answer is not that bad.  So, gather the information you need, then be decisive and slow to change your mind.  Your blood pressure and anxiety level will thank you.

Blasting Past Limiting Beliefs

Remember when you were in math class and the teacher talked about limits?

Oh, you Mathdon’t, never mind!

Actually limits in math act as a barrier that functions cannot go past.  Functions can get close to the limit, but never past it.

For some of us, “limiting beliefs” in our lives are acting as a barrier to reaching our full potential.  Limiting beliefs are typically not personal to us, rather more about groups we belong to.  For instance, limiting beliefs can sound like this:

  • People from my family cannot do that.
  • Nobody with my ethnic/gender background can get that type of job.
  • People my age cannot do those things anymore.
  • People my height just cannot do that.

These beliefs are not about you personally, but they often dramatically impact the things we are willing to try in life.  My limiting beliefs might stop me from applying for a job, asking someone out, trying a new hobby or going back to school.

I call limiting beliefs the “low bridging” of life.  We cut off opportunities for ourselves even before we have had a chance to explore them.  So, here’s the challenge, do not use your education, gender, ethnicity, age or some other characteristic to disqualify you from opportunities you are interested in.  Explore, explore, explore and blast right past the limits!

patrick@donohuelifecoaching.com  www.donohuelifecoaching.com