Personal note

In Minneapolis, as in much of the country, we are sweltering under an unprecedented heat wave.  This Northern city, which was once a choice vacation spot for Southerners hoping to escape the heat in the South, has posted numerous temperatures in the high 90’s and even 102 a few days ago.  And those temperatures are taken at the airport, where they seem to enjoy better weather than I do in the center city.  My thermometer has recorded a temperature as high as 106 degrees in the past week.The maddening thing about human-unfriendly weather is that it keeps you from doing what you planned, in my case gardening, reading on my front porch, and taking drives into the country.

The good thing about it is that you can find you now have lots of time to organize and to be creative about the next steps in your life.

Once again, it’s a choice.  And I have chosen the less stressful choice: my files are orderly, my house is on its way to being pristine.

How about you?  Are you fighting nature or going with the flow?

Underlying Issues

What’s the real source of your stress?

Coaches and therapists will tell you that when people are stressed or angry, what they say they are upset about and what is the real cause are two different things.

If a driver cut in front of you and made a rude gesture, is the irritation you feel really because of that? Are all of the times you feel irritated during the day – waiting in line while a customer ahead of you requires an extensive price check, watching the pharmacist have what seems to be an overly-long conversation with a customer – just the result of random, unrelated events, or is there something else going on?

Here are some underlying causes why life may seem continually annoying:

You sense a loss of power
Someone or something in your life seems to be more in control of a key situation than you are.  This is particularly difficult for a Dominant person, whose major motivation is to control situations in order to achieve a goal.

Ask yourself if you have given up your power by not asserting yourself, when in fact you have some expertise to contribute to the situation.  Or is it a case where you feel vaguely uncomfortable when someone else is in charge, even when you don’t have the skills important to that situation?  Try to relax and learn; your leadership will emerge as you show your ability and willingness to master an unfamiliar situation.

You feel rejected
Someone else is getting the credit or attention that you desire, or that you normally get.  If you have a strong need to be a motivating leader, you feel this loss more keenly than many others.

You can show your leadership by refraining from making negative comments about the other person and supporting any genuine qualities that you see this person exhibiting.

You’re disturbed at what seems to be a lot of conflict around you
There is a high noise level or disagreement in your environment.  Even if it is not directed at you, you can end up feeling fatigued, jangled, and even threatened that at some point it may be directed at you.

If this bothers you, you may need to program a few five- to ten-minute breaks in your day in which you retreat to your “Island of Peace,” a mental state in which you relax by breathing deeply and taking an imaginary trip to a peaceful site you have created.

There are people who thrive on a noisy environment and lots of stimulation and are startled to learn that it disturbs someone else. In some cases, you can point out to these people who are noisier than you are that you would appreciate it if they would keep the din down.

You are being unduly rushed
This is particularly unsettling if you are a conscientious, detailed-oriented person, not just because you feel you can’t do your best work, but also because it suggests that whoever is rushing you doesn’t grasp who you are and what is your value.

You may have to question them (and yourself) as to whether what you are doing right now requires a perfect performance.  (See my article on Persistent Perfectionism in the archives.)  If it does, let the other person know firmly what you require in order to turn out the job they themselves have required.

If you are feeling overwhelmed in one of these key areas, you may be inclined to find life irritating in general.  Look at the real cause of your irritation and take some steps to challenge it: getting annoyed at small irritants in your daily life without confronting the real cause will just escalate your stress.

(For more information on individual differences in how we experience life, see my program “Discover How Other People Misunderstand You … and what to do about it.”)