In an increasingly competitive world, you need strong nerves, lucidity, perseverance and patience to get rid of stress always on the prowl. I only realized this recently when I finally understood that getting anxious about fear of not being adequate is not the best way to deal with problems. And as everyone knows, anxiety is a very powerful stress generator.
Until not so long ago I was someone who was anxious about everything and although I have always been a champion of programming and planning, I also secretly suffered the pressure of failing in some way.
It may have been because of an anxious mother or at least an unusual family situation or having skipped the adolescent phase and found myself fourteen years old among adults, but since I was a child I have always lived with a sense of latent anxiety, as if at any moment something inevitable was about to happen.
Not just for the competition or for the search for a sense of belonging, which however have always been strong in me, but for an unjustified awareness that there was always the possibility that something went out of control.
It is not easy to live with this feeling because even when what you do meets your or others’ expectations, you are always afraid that at some point the benefits that you may have earned, thanks to what you have done, may fail.
And if on the one hand this sense of precariousness has substantially contributed to building my personality and let’s say my character, on the other hand it has always generated very strong stressful situations. However, I am not talking about insecurities but rather about an excess of prudence which at times, contrasting with the desire and enthusiasm to do, was one of the most annoying elements of stress ever.
Lately this attitude has changed and thanks to an internal path stimulated by sports and some rather sad events that have occurred in recent years, I have started to stop worrying about the remote and negative eventualities of what I do, instead concentrating everything on the present.
After all, tomorrow is another day
Well yes, I believe that this sentence pronounced by Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the wind”, has become a bit of the mantra that has taken the place of the negative feelings that I lived in the past for various reasons.
The first is that if you fear doing something just for the remote possibility that there are negative consequences, you end up staying still at the stake. I mean that without taking a little risk, if we want without a little measured unconsciousness, there would be no chance to grow and reach certain goals.
The second reason is that being unable to predict everything, it is better to focus on the present and face the unexpected when they arise, avoiding dispersing energy in hypothetical situations and mental labyrinths.
Third reason is that, in my experience, nothing can go wrong like something we start doing thinking from the beginning that it could go wrong. I know that many positive thinking theory makes you laugh but it is a fact that if you think positive, positive things happen while if you think negative, negative things happen.
Then that negative situations can always be transformed into positive situations that play in their favor I would say that it is the fourth reason why it is better to think about today and tomorrow tomorrow.
To put it like my grandmother: “don’t band your head before you hit it”
Strong nerves, lucidity, perseverance and patience
In my sporting experience I learned to manage performance stress by setting small goals obtained by breaking down the biggest goal I wanted to achieve. Obviously the latter was reasonably within my reach: ambitious but feasible with commitment and dedication; something that would take me out of my comfort zone but at the same time not entirely impossible.
From sport to daily life the transfer was almost natural and for this I have to thank CrossFit and rowing which are two great schools on how to face the thousand unexpected and unpredictable difficulties that arise every day.
And here lucidity was fundamental to understand, indeed, to formulate my final goal precisely. It is important to have clear ideas on where you want to go and how you want to get there, what your values are, your priorities, why you want to reach a certain goal and what the steps are to get there.
It may seem strange but very often people do not achieve what they want because they do not have the necessary lucidity to plan the path to follow and they throw themselves a bit at random into something that they believe is their purpose. But only a precise analysis leads to an optimal result in optimal times.
Try to think about it, one might for example want to get rich, but there are so many ways to do it, legal and otherwise, that one must still choose one and carefully plan the path.
Whether it is to want to rob a bank or to have the entrepreneurial idea of the century, without precise planning, you will not go anywhere. That is, yes; in jail in the first case and under a bridge in the second.
Patience is another fundamental requirement to avoid stress and consists in knowing that everything takes time to be done or achieved. If one manages to enter the order of ideas that only time leads to results, he has already done much of the work. It is not enough to plan, one must also carry out knowing that there is time for everything. And here patience becomes useful especially when it seems to be at a standstill and there is no progress.
Constancy is useful, indeed indispensable, so as not to give in and always work according to your plan even when those days when you have the feeling that everything is wrong happen. After all, everything is built with constancy and dedication and even if we manage to make everything seem easy in the eyes of others, it is constancy, intended as a sort of training to do, to be its architect. In other words, given the premises made so far, never give up.
I left my nerves last because it is perhaps the most delicate aspect. Do not panic in any case is another skill that trains and exercises with time and it is this ability to make the “poker face” to events that allows us to analyze difficult moments by choosing how to deal with them in the most appropriate way , without being overwhelmed by the not always constructive instinct of the moment.
It is not easy to stop and reflect on what to do when it seems that events are precipitating but it is also true that sometimes our sense of urgency is not justified and despite being immersed in a society where the “all and immediately” seems to be the universal creed , there is always the possibility of dilating even for a short time, just to realize the situation and how to manage it.
Life as a WOD or a very intense training
Ultimately life is like a WOD where what matters is not so much the result but having reached the end. And not in some way but in the best possible way. You learn to manage the energy available, you learn to analyze what you have to do and above all you learn to divide everything into smaller pieces, facing them one at a time. At that point there is no anxiety and there is no stress, there is only the will to get to the bottom of better.
The beauty of all this is that by dint of doing it, if at the beginning it seems to be totally incapable, in the moments when we realize the progress and the fact that each time the task seems easier, we are increasing our confidence in ourselves themselves and above all to eliminate the stress I mentioned at the beginning.
Let’s say it’s working with me and that’s why I wanted to share the whole question with you, both because maybe you haven’t thought about it and therefore it makes you think, and because now you know that you have a working model to follow that managed to get the better of anxiety and stress and it is much, much more powerful than before.