Yep, those unconscious behaviors to bury crucial information in piles of papers and magazines, agree to meetings without noting on your calendar, and forgetting to pick up the milk or even the kids… is a strategy.
It’s not a helpful strategy, but face it, it’s an unconscious choice.
Mark couldn’t get anything off the ground. He had huge aspirations but kept fumbling and setting himself up to lose.
He lived in an unfinished remodeling project he called home, his taxes were unpaid, and he was experiencing crushing pressure as a mortgage underwriter.
In his mid-30’s he was at the top of his game (or so he thought), competing in the Olympics as a racewalker, traveling throughout the world with his friend who was the CEO of a famous multi-level marketing company, and working a side hustle with him flipping commercial real estate.
Meanwhile, back on the home front, his relationship, his work, and his own property remodel were slipping off the page.
He wanted his very successful family to believe he was holding it all together. Newsflash, he wasn’t.
He was present in the physical sense, yet, Mark found himself not fully present from a mindfulness perspective. He said he felt like he was dodging an unavoidable bullet aimed straight at his head but couldn’t muster the wherewithal to get out of its range.
How could a person be genuinely present in such chaos? It was also during this time; his doctor told him that if he didn’t reduce the stress in his life, he would more than likely be facing critical damage to his heart, adrenals, or worse.
He didn’t listen.
Do you have a similar story? An overachieving professional, who finds themselves in some personal chaos. The person, who can be present to patients or clients – facing catastrophe after catastrophe with them with stealthy calmness and ease, yet not quite sure how his or her own life turned into complete and utter chaos.
When adversity hits, how do you find your way back to peace? First, follow the doctor’s orders and reduce stress. Second, be present, and third, get support.
Start with you. Living under consistently high levels of stress, our physical being reacts from a place of emotion, impulse, and survival instincts. The more we live this way, the more we reinforce and strengthen the primal part of our brain.
Chronic exposure to stress forces us into survival mode, acting on impulse and emotion which, in turn, creates more stress and chaos.
Instead, we want to manage our response, reinforce, and strengthen the highly evolved aspects of our mind and consciousness, which provides regulation of thought, feeling, and behavior. Doing so creates more peace and joy.
How to Reduce Chaos – Strategy 1 – Reduce Stress
What is happening:
High levels of stress can lead to adverse outcomes on our mental and physical health, work, and relationships. It changes the brain’s physiology and not in a good way. Consistent exposure to stress impairs our executive functioning prefrontal cortex, all while strengthening our amygdala – the “alligator brain”.
The prefrontal cortex is the highly evolved part of our brain responsible for the regulation of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Think of the prefrontal cortex as your own personal Yoda full of insight and guidance.
On the other hand, the amygdala is responsible for our emotions, survival instincts, arousal systems, and even memory. It generates the unconscious and primal stress response throughout our body and brain. The amygdala can create a stress response years after trauma or stress is over.
How do you get a grip when you’re constantly running from stressors both new and old?
It’s time for a new strategy. Reducing working hours, finding more time for yourself and your family, or saying no to more things would be a great starting point.
How to Reduce Chaos – Strategy 2 – Be Present
Reducing stress looks different for each person; yet being present is the only way to do it. Living in the here and now and quieting the mind. Paying attention to our feelings. Listening to and responding to the thoughts or “the voices in our head.” Awareness.
Change occurs physically, mentally, and spiritually when we become aware of the thoughts in our mind and recognize them as separate from who we authentically are. The same type of change happens when we become aware of our feelings as different from who we are.
Our thoughts and feelings are like the weather – they come, and they go. They don’t define us unless we choose them. Awareness of our thoughts and feelings as separate from our identity leads to a higher state of consciousness, which allows us to be in the present moment.
It can take a lot of practice to be present and combat the years of unawareness and strengthening our ego, yet that’s where change begins. This change is fundamental in reducing chaos in your life.
How to Reduce Chaos – Strategy 3 – Get Support
The first concept to learn when attempting change is, “Ask for help.” We’re not designed to do life alone. Humans cannot survive without support, let alone perform at our optimum. I am talking physically, emotionally, and mentally.
We humans rely on other people for important experiences like trust, autonomy, and even identity. Even introverts must eventually venture out and have those around them to help them and comfort them.
But we live in a world which promotes physical health yet stigmatizes emotional and mental health.
Take a moment to think about this. In the world of social media, how many posts do you see where someone is showing the world their before and after weight loss photos? Yet, the same people rarely consider sharing stories of mental health and wellness.
Both take hard work, yet physical health is accepted and publicly encouraged, whereas mental and emotional health is still secretive and taboo. It’s no wonder people do not ask for help. We have a long way to go!
How to Reduce Chaos – Strategy 4 – Take Action
These are self-care strategies that help you to prioritize your wellbeing. I also lay out 3 practical tools you can use in your life and business to gauge urgency, identify what’s important, and choose which priorities to act on first.
Taking action is the most important; yet, often the most difficult move to make.
Action requires movement or change, and often, people are sick of but somehow comfortable in their chaos. So, they choose to stay in this space for years. Others recognize action is needed and jump into it. Then, there are those who have to hit a brick wall and are forced into action.
Are You Ready to Choose to Leave Chaos Behind?
By following the methods discussed in this blog, you can be bringing balance into your life and business. With much-needed support, you can reduce the major work stressors you allow to consume your time and your life energy.
That’s what was missing and preventing Mark from practicing presence in his relationship and internally with himself. And it could be what’s missing for you too.
If you want help to overcome the chaos, you can click this link to see my calendar and choose a time that works best for you.
I’m an organizational development psychologist and an executive coach and helping others to create healthy change personally and inside businesses is part of my life’s purpose.
It’s also a never-ending journey that starts with you, the CEO.