One of the most important aspects of managing our emotions is to avoid uncertainty and indecision. Indecision causes stress: literally because one part of your brain wants to do one thing and another wants to do the opposite. As a result both parts of the brain are priming muscles in different parts of your body, and in different directions, to do their bidding. And so they start to contract against each other.
We need to be able to decide whether to get involved in a situation, or to completely let go—especially when something seems important. One of the most useful guides to this is ‘The Serenity Prayer’. As it says:
Give me the courage to change the things that I can change,
The serenity to accept those things I cannot change –
And the wisdom to know the difference!
It is often easier to let go, once we know we cannot do anything about a situation. And once we are clear we absolutely have to do something, we usually find the courage, strength and commitment to just do it.
The problem comes when things are not so clear. For example, there are crossover situations, where we could do something, but it would take a lot of effort and it is not really our responsibility, or alternatively, where we might not forgive ourselves for not doing something, despite there being little chance of success.
In NLP we suggest you recognise your circle or sphere of influence: those things you reasonably could change for the better. Compared with this is your circle or sphere of concern: those things you care about and are willing to be involved in. You could think about it like this:
Someone whose circle of concern is well within their circle of influence could be considered selfish.
Someone whose circle of concern is well beyond their circle of influence is caring, but stressed and frustrated. They are unlikely to be effective however much they care.
Someone whose circle of concern coincides exactly with their circle of influence is a ‘jobsworth’. (An English expression when someone refuses to do the obvious right thing, saying “It’s more than my job’s worth!”
The ideal seems to be to have your circle of concern just beyond your circle of influence. This gives you a bit of stretch or motivation, without stressing yourself unduly. However, you still need to be decisive about what you take on and what you cleanly let go of.
Being clear on these is often difficult because of two things:
Our society expects us to feel bad about bad things no matter what, whether it is useful or not. We are socially programmed into feeling guilty if we’re not feeling bad about something, even if we can do nothing about it. And-
We were never taught how to be in control of our own emotions and feelings, how to resolve them, and how to let go of them when they are not serving their purpose of getting us to make the changes that we need to, and can make.
NLP can help with getting this balance right. It can help you be clear how to tackle challenges and help you motivate yourself to take them on.
It can help you to let go of things which are a poor investment in time and resources, however worthy they are. And it can help you to step back or rise above the situation to more clearly and calmly see what is best and most appropriate for you to do.
When you work with me, I will teach you these techniques, so that you can use them to better deal with your current situations, and as a result of our work, you will have developed the skills to deal with future ones. After all, my job is to make you self-sufficient and to make myself redundant!