Previously, I wrote about the need to recognize how our level of control over external stressors was limited. It’s limited in that changing the stressor directly might seem to be a grand idea, but changing an external source of stress may very well be beyond our ability. What we can do is manage how we act and react to external sources of stress.
I wanted to emphasize that sometimes we must let go of a situation before it can get better. Constantly poking and prodding at an issue can very well make things worse. Let’s admit it: other people are often our stress points.
Changing other people tends to be well nigh unto impossible, so what can we do? Of course it depends entirely on the situation. Someone who speaks with their mouth full might benefit from a gentle hint—or a gentle but direct request for them to close their mouth while chewing. However, a person enduring domestic violence isn’t going to resolve that horrible issue with words.
The only thing there that will work is action—and the best action is alerting the authorities while getting out of the situation. Easier said than done, true, but there’s very little to nothing a person can do to change their abuser. That’s a job from professionals—and the criminal justice system.
Our ability to change things in life is limited by the nature of those “things”. If your desk chair is wobbly, fix it or get another chair. If your spouse has an annoying habit, by all means, speak with them, but if they don’t change and the habit is minor, you may need to let go desiring control over the situation.
We all want to change our environment to suit ourselves. That isn’t always possible. It’s why I focus so much on what we can do for ourselves to reduce our stress levels. Letting go of stress doesn’t mean you’ve solved the problem.
It doesn’t mean you’ve achieved nirvana, either. It simply means you’re no longer going to allow a person or situation to be a source of worry for you.
“How do I do that? How do I just stop worrying?” people ask. The best way to do it is to give yourself permission to do so. Many people fret and agonize, inflicting needless anxiety on themselves because they realize a dire situation exists, and they also see themselves as helpless to change it.
Worrying about the situation seems like a means to address it, however futile that may be. It’s phantom action, which is the origin of a great deal of stress. Try giving yourself permission to let a source of worry and anxiety fade away.