What sort of things put you under pressure? Paying bills, lack of job security, traffic congestion, family rows?
Even if the sun is splitting the rocks and we have pots of money there is always going to be something which will stress us out.
What is important is finding a solution, says Dr Susan Scott, a Canadian born international lecturer with the Inner Peace Movement. She will speak in Galway next week about how to cope with stress and to enjoy life. She will be accompanied by Stephen Gibbs, the director of the Inner Peace Movement in Australia.
One person’s stress can be another person’s shrug of the shoulders, she says. “There is always something that is going to stress us out. It’s the little things each day that can affect us. If we learn to spot those things and take steps to correct the problem we can still accomplish a lot but enjoy our life more.”
Start by not being hard on yourself, she suggests. “It sounds trite, but learn to look at the positive. Look at what you have done rather than at what you haven’t done. And if you do something that obviously doesn’t work, ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this? How can I do it differently another time’ instead of beating yourself up. And, most importantly, take time to praise yourself when things do go well, even if they are small things. Give yourself credit.”
Find out what you want in life and set about achieving your goals, be they big or small. Many people know what they do not want but how many know what they really want, she asks.
“Most people tend to talk themselves out of what they want because they can’t see how they are going to achieve it. The how is actually the second step. The first is to say, ‘This is what I want!’ After that, things will start to point us in the direction of how we can achieve it. And the important thing is not to talk yourself out of the inspirations that come to you. Don’t discount an idea simply because it’s something new. Often new and creative ideas are the ones that work the best. And often they are the fun ones.”
Dr Scott says too many of us put others first often to the detriment of ourselves. We become overburdened and burnt out simply because we cannot say “no”.
“If someone wants you to do something and you really don’t want to do it, have the courage to say ‘No’. That’s one of the hardest things to learn to do, but you will feel better if you can be true to yourself instead of trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations. Have you noticed that flight attendants on a plane will always tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping someone else. It’s not selfish to put yourself first. The selfish person never thinks about anyone else. The person with self respect says, ‘Me first and then I can help you.’”
Everyone is psychic
She advises against getting involved in other people’s problems. Above all, never feel sorry for another person, she emphasises.
“All it does is bring you down and then you can’t help the person anyway. That’s stress. Having empathy as opposed to sympathy will open you up to helping a person without getting personally involved in their situation and experiencing all their troubles. We can have compassion without getting personally involved in their problems. I have a friend who has worked in Third World countries and she says the first rule of international aid organisations is not to do for people but to give them the tools to do for themselves.
“Remember, too, that everyone is psychic. We can easily pick up other people’s aches and pains and worries and think they are our own. We have to remember that if we don’t feel good, there’s a good chance we are picking up pressure from someone else.”
Many of us are very tough taskmasters when it comes to ourselves. We are never content with our achievements and always feel we should be doing more. Even when we have achieved a lot we fail to sit back and enjoy our successes, instead focusing on what more needs to be done.
“Don’t pressure yourself to always be doing more,” urges Susan Scott. “Take time to acknowledge how much you have already accomplished. I like to make a list of things I do each day so at the end of the day I look at what I have done, not at all the things I haven’t done. That way I feel satisfied with my accomplishments and feel fulfilled instead of under constant pressure to do more.”
Shut out the world
Maintaining a balance in your personal, work and social life is the key to fulfilment and happiness, she believes. Everyone needs personal “me” time when we can shut out the world and recharge our batteries.
“We need time to enjoy our family and friends, and then we need time to do our work. Any time we get out of balance, like working all the time and never taking personal time for ourselves to recharge our batteries, we are going to feel stressed. It could be as simple as turning off your mobile phone and climbing into a hot bath. Too often we say to ourselves, ‘I’ll take time for myself when I get this done’. Unfortunately, whatever it is that demands our attention never gets done, or, as soon as it does, something else will come up that will claim our attention. It takes willpower to take personal time for ourselves. However, it is essential or else we are going to feel like life is passing us by.”
She describes worry as a destructive mental habit which saps our energy and achieves little. “Have you ever noticed that the things we most worry about actually never happen? I used to be a huge worrier. I worried even when there was nothing to worry about because I worried that I might have missed something! I have learned that the important thing is to listen to what I feel, that I will always sense if something is not right and then I can do something about it. If I stay relaxed - and this is something the Inner Peace Movement helps people to do - I will always catch something in time to do something about it. If I’m tense and in a rush it is easy to overlook or to forget things.”
She is a strong believer in guardian angels and says all of us have these special guides to assist us. Seeking their help and picking up on signals from them will smooth our pathway through life.
“We need to remember that we are not alone, that we have guardian angels to guide us. If we relax and listen to them they can guide us past the pitfalls and help us be ready for the good things. They talk to us in different ways - sometimes a picture will flash into our mind that will have the solution for whatever faces us, sometimes it’s a gut feeling and at other times it will be a clear thought, idea or an inner knowing.
“The most important thing is to trust our instincts, our first impressions and not talk ourselves out of them. I read an article by Oprah Winfrey recently and she said that all her most important decisions in life had been based on her instincts and the things that had not worked for her were the things where she had not listened to herself. So, we have everything we need to lead happy, successful and productive lives free of stress. We just need to catch the things that can create pressure for us and change them to something that can work for us.”
* Susan Scott and Stephen Gibbs will give a talk entitled “Trust your intuition” on Tuesday next at 1pm and 7:30pm at The Ardilaun Hotel, Taylor’s Hill.
“The idea is that if people can learn to trust themselves and their instincts they will make better decisions and find themselves in the right place at the right time, ie, less stress,” says Dr Scott.
The lectures last one and a half hours and cost €15. Log onto www.innerpeacemovement.co.uk for further information on the Inner Peace Movement.