Updated: Jul 12
Us. Or at least we love to think so. Regardless of our age, gender or culture, we all have something in common. We tend to think that everything around us has something to do with us. The minute someone gets fired at the company we work for, we automatically ask ourselves of we will be next. Every time we experience something new, we tend to compare it to what we know and therefore make assumptions about it. This can have a tremendous impact in your life because it may prevent you from taking special decisions that could make your life even more wonderful than it already is. When I first moved to Germany, it was a nightmare. I suffered from what we call “culture-shock” which is a feeling of anxiety, alienation and discontent due to your new environment. This phenomenon is commonly present in people who move to a country that has a different culture than what they are used to. And without going into too much detail, there is no way around it. You just have to get through it. But why did culture shock happen to me? First of all, I had no training in intercultural training or coaching back then so it was pretty ruff. After years of learning and seeing it from a different perspective, it is evident that the main reason why this happens is because at that moment in time we are not able to accept our new habitat for what it is. We tend to compare the new system to the old system and nitpick what we don’t like. For example, back then I used to complain that many government offices would close early, that you needed an appointment for EVERYTHING, that the stores were closed on Sundays and the list carry on. I was used to something different and instead of me adjusting, I wanted Germany to adjust for me. We want people to change so that we can get along. Till this day, people come to my workshops with similar examples about the US and it reminds me of my first months in Germany. I also work with people who have a set mindset and apparently it is not working for the company they work for so we need to go through I like to call the MINDSET DANCE and find a way to give this person an opportunity to see things from different angles so that he/she/neutral can make their own decisions. At work we see the same, there are people who have been doing a job for ten years the same way. Then a new manager takes over the department and decides to change things around but gets resistant from his employees. The reaction from these veteran employees may not be surprising because we all humans have one tendency: We love to control things around us. As we explore this topic deeper and look at the emotional aspect, we find that part of the reason why we want things around to change for our benefit because we want to be able to control them. At the end of the day everything boils down to either “pain” or “pleasure”. In order for us to minimise pain we tend to want to control everything around us. Once we feel that we have control, we feel at ease because we can now start moving towards pleasure. Failing to gain control creates the opposite effect. This is one of the biggest reasons why we experience stress. One technique that I like to use when feeling out of balance, is to ask myself “am I searching to control something here?”. The reason why it is important to check yourself is because quite often we are trying to control things that are not within our reach. Sally is not answering the email and we desperately need her answer before the meeting. Can I control Sally's actions or this situation? No. Of course not. So what could we do instead of stressing? We could go back to the drawing board and see where we can still contribute by: A. Calling Sally B. Calling a colleague who is also involved C. Try to figure the information out yourself D. Move on with the meeting without this information E. Re-schedule the meeting Those are potential alternatives that you can control and they all have something in common. They all intrinsic. There is actually very little we can control outside of ourselves. Therefore it is important to identify where exactly the stress is coming from. Once you know, it is easier to see what needs to be done from your part in order to have a peace of mind. Understanding that not everything revolves around us can be liberating. After being aware of this, every time there is an opportunity to move forward in life and I second guess myself, I remember not to make it about myself since it is my mission to make sure that everything I do is to serve others in the best possible way.
At the end of the day it is not about the world revolving around us, it's about concentrating on the outcome we want to achieve and doing everything in our power to achieve it. Once we have given our all, there is no need to stress anymore because the results are no longer in your hand and that's when you should give in to the fact that you are no longer in control.