I am working quite a bit with a number of balls in the air. I get home to eat and then continue back to my computer to complete a typical day. My wife says my flat behavior at dinner suggests I am stressed out. Yet I love what I am doing and truly lose track of time. I tell her I am not stressed but stretched. And the funny thing is we are both right.
Stretching actually energizes me and while I do look forward to a weekend break, I am mentally excited. The problems I deal with are all good.
On the personal side, I am truly stressed. We have a family situation with no apparent easy answer and we are not the decision makers. That lack of answer has us both in a never ending loop of “What if….” That does stress me and my behavior reflects it. My communication is short, often abrupt, and bordering on rude.
So what is the difference between the stress and stretching? In a word, control. My work is an area I have control over. The longer hours and increased challenges actually raise my energy and self esteem. The perceived outcome is worth the effort. Stress is caused by lack of control. I am not the decision maker and yet I will be affected by the actions of others. This lack of control has a negative impact on my energy and outlook.
Here’s the good news. Because I recognize the source now, I have choice on how to respond. I cannot control the actions of others, however impactful. I can control my response. And that will allow me to change my dinner time behavior tomorrow night.
I am going to let stress stretch me in my response capabilities. And that will make for much better dinner conversations.