The Recovering Farmer

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The 90/10 Rule

I am getting ready for another support group meeting. We will be focusing on stress management. I suspect some will question the necessity of covering that topic, again. It is good to have refreshers. It is good to be reminded. I need to utilize stress management tools on a regular basis. A large part of stress management is recognition. The better we are at recognizing stress overload, the sooner we realize that our life is out of balance, the sooner we recognize that our emotions are not right, the sooner we can deal with it and regain a sense of control, a sense of balance, a sense of peace.

Each time I prepare for this topic I find myself looking at how stress affects us physically, emotionally, socially, and mentally. I suspect many of us can relate to headaches, fatigue, anxiety, frustration, a lack of perspective, loneliness, and confusion. These are but a few of the signs of stress. Often times we will dismiss aches and pains as something that just happens. I often find myself saying its age related. How often do we find our emotional gas tanks empty? We need to work on whatever it takes to keep “gas in the tank”.

I discovered a new way to deal with physical aches and pains. Due to a lot of physical work I have done lately, I was experiencing intense muscle aches. Sure, I can deal with the aches and pains. But what I find difficult to accept is when my golf game suffers. I was finding that I could not swing a golf club normally. Not good. It was becoming increasingly frustrating. Couldn’t keep away from the double bogies. I finally let my wife make an appointment for a deep muscle massage. Not sure whether the massage left me feeling better because it actually works or whether it hurt so bad it was a relief when it was done. Interesting, to say the least. But, I survived. That same evening I played a round of golf. Right from the outset I noticed that my swing seemed to be much more fluid. Perhaps there is hope. But I digress.

What really hits home is when I see how behaviors change when stress is experienced. We become reckless. We become verbally abusive. We have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others. There are more and more idiots on the road. Wait a minute. That is just my road rage kicking in again. I do notice, however, that when I am feeling stressed, feeling under pressure or upset with something going on in my life my tolerance level goes way down. I really need to keep watch over that.

Stephen Covey writes an interesting piece on the 90/10 rule. His thought is that only 10% of life is made up of what happens to us. The other 90% of life is decided by how we react. Really? Think about it. It makes sense. He uses an example. You are eating breakfast with your family. One of the kids is careless and spills juice on your shirt. You have no control over that event. What happens next will be determined by how you react. You get angry. You yell. You upset the family. Causes stress in everyone else whose agendas for the day get messed up because of that one incident. Your kid misses the bus. You are late for work. Nobody can do anything right. In short, the day is a disaster. Imagine now if you had responded in a gentle manner. Accidents do happen. Life could have been much easier. In essence, approximately five seconds of your life dictated the rest of the day.

Sounds like stress to me. So the 90/10 principle is simple. It is a matter of practising it. Just remember, it is not the event but rather our reaction to the event that causes stress. It could change your life. Take it one day at a time. Make it a good one.

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