I appreciate not everyone who reads my blog posts are from the UK, but there’s a great life lesson we can all learn from what’s happening in British politics right now.
It’s a lesson about dealing with stress. Here’s the headline if you want to absorb the point and move on with your day.
Find ways to turn down the stress you’re experiencing. You can’t win when you’re up to your eyeballs in difficulty.
So here’s the low down. The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in a daily struggle for credibility. It isn’t easy to know where to start with him, but recently he’s been knocked about on several fronts.
First, he, his wife, and his staff were having parties while we were all self-isolating, and he’s had to work hard to defend his position. Then there was the report on what happened, the start of a police investigation, and this is where I think things get interesting.
In the last few days, Boris has been so on the ropes that he’s resorted to accusing the leader of the opposition party of things that have no basis in reality, and most recently, he’s been caught twisting crime statistics to mislead parliament. (Do you like how I’m pretending to understand politics…)
Whether you’re reading this while all of these things occur or sometime in the future, it shouldn’t matter. The point here is that it’s clear Boris Johnson is operating in a high level of stress, and he’s demonstrating some classic high stress behaviours, that we all do, while we try and ignore our real problems. On this front, I think there’s something we can take away for our benefit.
Firstly, no matter what you’ve done, or what mess you’re in, you need to find a moment to surrender your control.
When we experience an emotional attack, our instincts will generally lead us to fight or attack back. Do all you can to resist, listen, and hold yourself together with dignity while you consider the best way to respond. This is a great time to seek out the wisdom of people you trust and know will encourage you to calm down.
Secondly, If you’re battling on multiple fronts, you may need to find a way to construct peace.
It might be work, the washing, an overgrown garden or a messy living space. If you feel like everywhere you turn feels like stress: Construct peace. Constructing, or making something peaceful, will undoubtedly be different for everyone. For me, constructing peace means focusing myself on one thing. To immerse myself in it, to figure out why it feels difficult, and to sort it out. I might even change something or bend it just enough so that it can’t cause the same problem again.
An excellent example of this for my family and me was when we rearranged our living space to create a wider walkway through the central part of the lounge. It took some serious planning, drawing and testing, but we got there. (And it cost us nothing, so that’s also a big win)
Thirdly, if you’re not coping, you’re probably holding too many things. You may even be holding the wrong things.
In my book ‘Stuck in the Mud: Stories of hope for when you’re stuck’, I discuss not considering myself a busy person. I will admit at times, I get too full of activity, but this is very much the point I’m trying to make. We need to work hard at making sure we’re using our time on things we’ve chosen to do, that we’re actually able to do and that we’re willing to stop when the time is right.
In the Spring of last year, my mentor reminded me of this, and I set to work on reconstructing my responsibilities to reset a new rhythm for the Autumn. Ironically, I needed to make more adjustments around Christmas, but they’re my adjustments to make, and I want to encourage you to take the time to do the same in your own life.
Finally, if you find yourself up to your eyeballs in stress, and worry, don’t forget that you can also pray.
Here’s a great passage from the Bible that always brings me peace.
Please take a moment to read it, and I really do wish you a very happy and peaceful day.
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”