We live in a VUCA world. It is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Things move fast and often are unpredictable. We are required to keep up, perform, and be successful. And we are anxious, stressed out, and depressed. So what are the things you should stop doing to maintain your inner peace?
1. Don’t focus on things you can’t control
Deciding what is under your control and what is not, is not as easy as it seems. It depends mainly on your belief system. Some people tend to take responsibility for their lives and believe that their future is entirely in their hands. Some have the opposite belief system and are of the opinion that nothing they do matters and they don’t have their life under control.
The attitude is undoubtedly important and strongly influences whether you approach life positively and proactively or with doubts and passivity. However, objectively, some things are out of your control.
Trying to control everything in your life will only lead to anxiety and disappointment when things don’t turn out as planned. Trying to control everything will take a huge amount of energy, waste lots of time, and ultimately turn you into an obsessive control freak who is impossible to work and live with.
“You control only your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Everything else is outside of your control.”
More than two thousand years ago, the ancient Stoics knew that path to happiness and satisfaction with life leads through the realization that there are things in life that are not under your control and subsequent acceptance that there is no point in worrying about them that brings more tranquility to your life.
In the grand scheme of things, you control your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Everything else is outside of your control. You don’t control the environment, including the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of others.
“Do the best you can do, and be the best you can be.”
Your goal should be to focus on doing your best and being your best. You shouldn’t spend your days worrying about how others will act. Do your best every day at work, but don’t worry about promotion, as that is not under your control. Do your best to love your spouse but don’t worry whether they will love you back. Not under your control. Do your best to live a healthy life, but don’t worry about getting ill. Not under your control. Doing your best can nudge others in a specific direction, like promoting or loving you. Still, ultimately, it is others’ decision, and you should be ready that they may decide not in your favor.
Accept the world for what it is. Accept that some things are not under your control. Accept that you can’t control others and can only influence them by listening, sharing opinions, and changing your behavior.
2. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone
Don’t be a people pleaser. There are two good reasons for that. First, you can’t please everyone. People have different needs, opinions, and expectations, and by pleasing one person, you may easily displease someone else. Second, by focusing on pleasing others, you give them power over you, your actions, and your dreams. Learn to consider your interests and feelings as equally important to the interests and feelings of others.
“By focusing on pleasing others, you give them power over you, your actions, and your dreams.”
People-pleasing is often born out of fear. We want to avoid conflict and unpleasant conversations, so we rather please the other person at our own expense. The alternate reason is that we feel useful when we please others. We get the feeling that our lives matter, even though by this very act, we are accepting that they matter less than the life of the person we just tried to please.
A way to break the cycle is to increase your self-awareness, understand your values and life priorities, and build the assertiveness to say no to things that don’t align with those values and priorities. Internalizing that your feelings and needs are as important as the needs of others will help with dealing with the discomfort that the assertive behavior may induce in you.
3. Don’t give away your power
Taking things personally and acting like a victim is the easiest way to give others power over you. Someone makes a joke, and you feel offended? Well, you just allowed them to make you feel bad. Someone yells at you, and you feel hurt and hold grudges? Well, they have forgotten about the incident the moment it finished, while you allowed them to torment you for weeks. Someone frowned at your goals or ambitions, so you changed them? Well, you gave them the power over what you should be doing with your life.
Do you spend your days working hard on things you don’t want to do so others see you in the best light? Do you spend your days complaining about others or about things you “have to do”? Well, all these things empower others to rule over your life. Just stop. All these things are self-inflicted and put you in the position of a victim or someone dependent on others. You allow others to define your worth.
“Taking things personally and acting as a victim is the easiest way how to give others power over you.”
To stop giving away your power, start by changing your language. “My boss made me angry” is giving your boss power over how you feel. You made yourself angry, so stop blaming your boss. No one can “make” you feel anything. Only you can make you feel. Your boss may have said or done something, but that is not the cause of your anger. It is your decision on how to interpret what the boss did and how to feel about it. You decided to get angry. Your colleague chose to laugh it off. By claiming that your boss made you angry, you are giving them power over you.
When you are faced with situations that trigger you to take things personally, take a deep breath before you respond. There is a difference between a reaction and a response. A reaction is emotional and self-defeating. A response is thoughtful and self-empowering. Don’t react. Respond.
4. Don’t believe the world owes you anything
If you are one of those people who feel that the world owes them, then you need to stop and think hard. You are most likely wrong if you believe you are better at everything than the average person. If you believe you deserve to be happy, you are focusing on the wrong thing. If you believe you deserve a house, a car, or an exotic vacation, and you are bitter because you don’t have it, you are hurting yourself. You are wrong if you believe you suffered more than others, worked harder, and deserve more. If you think you are too smart to work hard, you will fail.
“We are all unique, but we are not that unique. You don’t deserve more than others. The world doesn’t owe you anything.”
We are all unique, but we are not that unique. All the ways in which you believe you are special are the same things that every other person around you believes they are special too. The world doesn’t owe you anything; you better stop acting like it does.
Learn that every time you want something, you need to work hard on getting it. Learn to be grateful for the things you’ve got. Learn that the world is not fair and never will be, as fairness is in the eyes of the beholder. I don’t want to put you down, but you are not that special.
Stop the narcissistic entitlement nonsense and learn gratitude. You aren’t more deserving than others. Your problems aren’t unique. Life is not meant to be fair. Life is life. It has its ups and downs. You can increase your chances of success by being proactive and doing your share, but there are no guarantees. Learn to deal with disappointment constructively by setting up realistic expectations and understanding that there are many things you don’t have under control. Focus on giving instead of taking. Be humble.
5. Don’t dwell on the past
Some of us, especially introverts, tend to brood and overanalyze everything. We would spend a lot of time thinking about what we could have done or should have said. We may reminisce about some adventure we had in the past instead of taking action to repeat it. The past is the past. Leave it there. If you succeeded, good. Keep going and reach for another success. If you fail, good. Learn from the failure and move on. Don’t dwell on the past. Stop second-guessing your decisions. If you made a different choice, your life would be different, but there is no way of knowing how different. Stop torturing yourself for making the decisions you made.
“The past is the past. Leave it there. Stop torturing yourself for making the decisions you made.”
I can see a couple of big decisions I made that, if I had taken the other option, my life would be completely different. I would live in a different place, know different people, and have different jobs, habits, and mindset. In fact, I would have a completely different personality as my experiences, and the environment would shape me differently. I would be someone completely different. Not better, not worse. Just different. Would I be happier? Who knows. I would be a different person living a different life, so there is no way for me to know how that person would feel about his life.
And the same applies to all of us. Dwelling on the past and feeling regret that we didn’t make a different choice is a waste of time. You can’t rewind the past. And you can’t know how things would turn out and what you would feel if you made a different choice. Just stop distracting yourself and focus on the present. When you spend your time living in the past, you miss living here and now. And when you miss living in the now, you can’t prepare for living in the future. Thinking about the past is holding you back.
To break the cycle when thinking about the past, focus on data, not emotions. Learn your lessons and move on. Consider mindfulness, learn to live in the moment, and focus on what you are doing now. Keep yourself busy with setting up goals to be achieved in the future, as boredom is a great way to start reliving the past.
6. Don’t envy other people’s success
Don’t compare yourself to others. Successful people don’t have time for jealousy about wealth, status, or appearance. To a certain extent, we all feel we deserve more than others. We are entitled to a good life, believe that we are better, work harder, and are smarter than the next person. The reality is often much more complicated than it appears. You may envy your company’s CEO for her compensation, but you probably wouldn’t want her high-stress job. You may envy your neighbor their new house, but you probably wouldn’t want their mortgage.
“Envying the success of others leads you on a dark path and makes you a worse person.”
Envying the success of others leads you on a dark path and makes you a worse person. Don’t compare yourself with others. It will only make you feel bad about your own life. It will lead you to overlook the good things in your life. It will lead you to ignore the skills you have to be successful. It may even force you to abandon your values and life goals. Instead of living your life, you are living in envy of someone else’s life. You will be no fun to be around, and it will negatively impact your relationships.
Become the best version of yourself
If you need to compare yourself with someone, then compare yourself with the best you. Keep asking yourself whether you do your best; if the answer is no, then do something about it. Work on your self-awareness and emphasize your strengths when self-talking. Learn to be genuinely happy for other people’s success. Not only will it be good for your relationships, but you will feel good inside.
And most importantly, stop complaining that life is not fair. It is not. And that is just fine.
What are your thoughts on the things to stop doing to have inner peace? What are the things that disturb you the most, and how do you deal with them? What are the things in your life that you have under control? Does “focus on doing your best and ignore everything else” the best advice, or do you have a better one?
Photo: Ri_Ya / Pixabay.com
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