Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How to Roll with the Punches without Getting a Bloody Nose

“Your attitude is the only difference between an ordeal and an adventure.”

That’s the mantra of my friend Rusty, lifelong native of Gulfport, Mississippi.

He has that quotation framed in the entryway of his houseboat.

Which, by now, is probably filled with oil.

“It sure helped me get through Katrina,” he said as he prepared our shrimp dinner a few weeks back. “And it’s sure as hell going to help me when the oil spill makes its way to Mississippi.”

Is your attitude that good? Could your mindspace compete with Mississippi Rusty?

If not, here’s how roll with the punches without getting a bloody nose:

1. Remain unreasonably peaceful. Especially when the shit hits the fan. People who provide an unblinking stare instead of becoming preoccupied with the chattering noise of reactive thinking are inspiring.

My suggestion: Learn to stay in a state non-resistance. You’ll discover that inviting the challenges of life with a consciousness of calm is the smartest thing you could do.

The only repercussion is, you might upset the people around you who are pissed off that you’re not more pissed off. Remember: You can try to control life, or allow it to flow abundantly through you. Which will you choose?

2. Release your attachment to the need to control your environment. Everyone is silently controlled by something. And if you don’t think you are, then that’s what is silently controlling you. I know. Denial hurts.

But when life starts to suck, your attitude needs to revolve around questions like:

*Do you actually think you can go on controlling life indefinitely?
*In a pinch, am I willing to say almost anything to maintain control?
*What in this situation is within your control, which you can realistically change?
*How much time and energy are you wasting on things over which you have absolutely zero control?

Remember: Assuming you can’t go on controlling life indefinitely is a game you won’t win. What are your control tendencies?

3. Preserve your sense of response. In the psychology manual, The Handbook of Competence and Motivation, the authors’ research proved on several occasions that human beings operate out of a model to feel autonomous and in control of their environment and actions.

Thus: The feeling of being in control is a basic human need. And while you can’t control the world – you can control your response to it. I’m reminded of what Cardinal Hall of Famer Stan Musial is famous for saying: “When a pitcher's throwing a spitball, don't worry and don't complain – just hit the dry side.”

Lesson learned: If this circumstance is hard to get rid of or is beyond your control, choose to experience it differently. Or, another approach is to pinpoint the things in your situation that are within your control – that you can realistically change – and change them.

It all stems from your willingness to be a catalyst, not a controller. How much time and energy are you wasting on things over which you have absolutely zero control?

4. Circumvent the lizard brain. Currently, you’re operating under the illusion that you only have three responses to disaster: Fight, flight or freeze – right?

Wrong. There’s a fourth option: Friend. Whatever unfortunate situation is occurring, you have to learn to ask yourself: How can I make friends with this?

My therapist taught me this approach years ago as it related to stress. “Greet it with a welcoming heart and accept it as a normal part of the life experience,” he told me. “Then, put your arm around it, thank it for stopping by and ask what you’re supposed to be learning from the situation.”

When I embraced this attitude, everything changed. Seriously, it was spooky. Nothing seemed to bother me anymore. Even stress. And yes, it takes about six months to adjust your attitude to this level – but it’s worth it.

Because when you learn to love what sucks, nobody can steal your peace. Except maybe that creepy guy standing outside your bedroom window with a hatchet. But in all fairness, you probably shouldn’t have responded to his Craig’s List ad in the first place. Woops. Are you willing to change your relationship to your discomfort?

5. Flex the muscle of life. Accepting the constant flux of life is a challenge, but learning to ride that flux makes you a champion. As I learned from The Power of Full Engagement, “One should never be too proud to adapt. The person who sees the world as plastic and quite malleable is generally flexible himself.”

Your mission is to breathe through the discomfort. To recognize that the detour is the path. And to relax into the realization that you’re never (not) in alignment.

Remember: Everything happening is exactly what is supposed to happen. Are you flexible enough to touch the toes of life – and do so with an attitude of openness, surrender and faith?

6. Learn to see things dispassionately. “Save the drama for your mama.” That’s how our yoga instructor, Rebecca, reminds us to breathe with a slow, relaxed pace. Unfortunately, many newcomers and first timers miss the mark on this practice. As soon as their muscles start to hurt, or the heat beats down on their skin, enter the cardiovascular drama.

Normally, they’ll default to shallow, rapid and dramatic breathing through their chest. And while they think it will help them move through the posture, it won’t – it only makes it worse.

What you learn in yoga is that the faster your heart beats, the slower your lungs need to fill. And the more that chaos erupts around you, the deeper you need to breathe through your diaphragm.

The cool part is, yoga is a metaphor for life. The principle of dramatic reaction to internal and external turmoil is universal. You need to practice breathing through it. To put your emotions aside and evaluate your situation objectively. Only then can you respond – not react – from a space of peace. Through what lens do you view your situations?

ULTIMATELY: Rolling with the punches is a function of your awareness of attitude, willingness to adapt and ability to respond.

Even if you don’t have thousands of gallons of oil seeping into your houseboat.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How flexible dare you be?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, "61 Things to Stop Doing Before It's Too Late,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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