Getting rid of stress

Close-up with KC Ejelonu

Email: Twitter: @kcejelonu

KC Ejelonu QEDI got into a discussion with a group of colleague recently and someone said living in Nigeria especially Lagos should be described as “survival of the fittest”. Finding the right “living space” is really important for people to ensure they find the right “pond” to live in. This refers to both your physical “pond” and those with whom you spend your time.

Today, people feel a lot of unnecessary and unneeded stress caused by comparing themselves to others. This stress puts a toll on both their mental and physical health. First, you must understand that your physical surroundings determine who you “hang out” with and who you “hang out” with is a large determinant of your self-worth. You are a reflection of your five closest friends. This is because we as social creatures tend to base our opinions of ourselves on comparisons between ourselves and those in our immediate circles. This can work both for you and against you. Surrounding yourself with others who have achieved a level of success you desire gives you examples after which to model your behaviour. On the other hand, if you are constantly comparing yourselves to these people, that can cause you immense stress. Thus, this is a highly individualised matter that you must consider on a personal level and how these comparisons affect you in particular.

Some people need to be geared up to be motivated. While others need to excel within their personal group to feel confident enough to eventually reach up. It is a fine balance.

If you are one who gets stressed by comparing yourself to your more successful friends, neighbours, or co-workers, one of the quickest ways to change any negative feelings, jealousy, or status envy you might have is to ensure you also have people who are at your current socio-economic status in your circle as well. This is not to imply that you necessarily change your circle of friends. It’s just that you need to be more conscientious of who you compare yourself to on a regular basis. For example, you can seek out those you can better and more appropriate identify with through social and civic groups. And sometimes, one can better flourish by seeking out “smaller settings” in which to work and play as well. Sometimes successes are easier to come by and recognise in such a setting. You must also learn to recognise your own successes – in their own right – and use them to balance what you feel are your failures or shortcomings that only exist in comparison to others. Especially comparisons to others who might have more advantages – or resources – than you do at your disposal.

Perhaps most importantly, learn to use this “envy” for good. Use it to propel yourself to greater heights. Instead of thinking “poor me, I don’t have…” or “I’ll never be able to do what so-and-so did because I didn’t grow up rich” or “I’m not as educated so I am not as smart as…”, and letting those things get you down on yourself, begin to consider how your particular circumstances served you. Only you have the power to decide that. Has a lack of certain things in your life forced you to be resourceful? Has your lack of money in your life put you in a position to empathise with those facing certain problems that only you – with your underprivileged or even middle-class background – can really understand? Maybe your lack of formal education has driven you to really study the world – or independently – so that you actually have more practical knowledge than your more “classroom educated” counterparts?

On the other hand, if you are someone who needs to be consistently challenged to strive for success then add people to your circle of influence who are currently where you desire to be and mirror them. This will take years off your journey to success and allow you to arrive at your destination in a much shorter time. There are always two sides to every coin and while some need to remain secure in their current situation there is nothing wrong with that if that is what gives you greater emotional security and satisfaction. I, on the other hand, am always searching for growth.

I believe that wherever you are at some point in time, you have made an appointment to be there. Being wealthy isn’t just a question of how much money you have, but rather having what you want. It has been said by many that success without fulfilment is failure. Wealth isn’t absolute, it’s relative to desire SELF ESTEEM= success divided by expectation. Meaning, people base their self-worth on their definition of success. To be successful, one must be prepared for opportunity and then answer the door when it knocks, or lower your expectation. Either way, decide what works for you.