In life, as in work, there are times of conflict or strain that challenge our internal harmony and disrupt our flow.

Most of us know this sensation; everything is going well, until…until someone says something unpleasant, or a process changes, or a major catastrophe forces us to question a person, place, or thing.

Although common, contending with changing conditions leave many of us feeling frustrated and incompetent. To reduce uncertainty, some apply productive measures like meditation and deep-self-awareness, while others turn to aggression or violence against themselves or others.

Regardless of our tactics to reduce unpleasant symptoms, most of us are uncomfortable in these terrains and generally unskilled at managing our nervous system, our emotions, and thoughts. For me, I have found 3 ways to “cut to the chase” (my own) and help me move through discomfort, uncertainty, and fear in both life and work.

Mindset

One of the most effective ways to deal with challenging conditions is to understand our own relationship to it. Far too often, we linger in the delusion that the way something was, is the best way. Remember, the nature of life itself is change. All of life is in constant motion. Having a growth mindset, one that welcomes the reality of life and its ever-changing flow, tempers our resistance and can assist us in overcoming (transcending) a challenge or pain point.

Context

We give context to every experience in our lives. The questions “what does this mean to me?”, and “how does this affect me?” are often the first stop in understanding change. Context is also socially and culturally reinforced and impacts our mindset and the mindset of those around us, too.

When I was in graduate school, I took a course on counseling theories where I learned how, based on the time (historical) and the experiences of each “theorist” (think Freud, Maslow, Jung, Skinner, Piaget, Bandura, Perls, etc.) their approach to therapy, and therefore its object, subject, and methods, took form. It was in this class where I learned that context is everything.

When confronting a challenge or pain point, we often waste time and energy investigating its roots and manifestations elsewhere. We want to do a deep psychoanalysis about it (ala Freud or Jung) and pick people and places to blame or assign reason to, but fundamentally, it is us (you and me) who can choose the context in any and every experience.

The problem, however, is that we don’t trust ourselves enough to acknowledge “this hurts me”. Conversely, we lack compassion when fellow human beings tell us “this hurts me.” We waste far too much time dissecting, analyzing, and admiring problems (myself included!), when instead, we could choose to look slightly ahead, in front of it, for its inevitable conclusion, thereby reducing our individual and shared suffering.

Time

Your time orientation is part of your context and becomes a filter through which you view experience. Cutting to the chase (ha!), the most effective and productive orientation in life and work is present time– as in right now.

There are hundreds of books and teachers on this subject that explain why nurturing this orientation and awareness yields rich and transformative insights. If you meditate or journal, you are halfway there. The more you cultivate these practices in yourself, the more you actually support others in gracefully meeting shared challenges, too.

The reason for this is simple: your mindset changes, your context expands, and therefore, you use time (body-self and energy) in the most productive and life-affirming ways. You’re no longer caught in the “web of sticky thoughts” (my friend Andrew Newman’s term), but actively and courageously engaged in the now– which is the only point of impact. And yes, this takes time-– it is a practice that you become.

Excerpted from Invisible Leadership, Mayra Porrata, ©2022, SEE, LLC.


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