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Tension…Friend or Foe

November 19, 2012

Choices, stimuli, uncertainty, decisions, opportunity…we have infinitely more now than ever before.  With the constant barrage of messaging, it can be easy to get distracted and confused along the way.  Nearly everything is made to look appealing, even items we do not need or want and ones that we already have.  This sends us unconsciously in all different directions seemingly at the same time.  Now we acquire goods and take on experiences just because they are put before us.  Perhaps we really want or need them or perhaps an illusion of want/need has been created by external sources (media, friends, family, employer, etc.).  Certainly, we can feel positive about some of these items and experiences…even if they bring on productive tension that helps us create new skills for the future (i.e. going from a regular mobile phone to a smart device, or being put into a position at work that makes you uncomfortable).  Yet, on a more general scale, how do we separate productive tension from unproductive tension?

Productive tension is a catalyst for progress.  It comes about when we are invigorated by what lies before us, even if it comes with challenges.  This type of tension may utilize helpful amounts of stress, strain, uncertainty, as necessary elements to growth.  Accepting that tension is present, while accomplishing our goals, can help us work through it tenaciously.  Common  thoughts:  What information will help improve the situation?  How can I gain the required skills?  Who can I turn to for support?  I am excited by what I am learning and achieving.

Unproductive tension is brought on by things we don’t really want or need or experiences that we don’t connect to, yet stick with anyway.   Think buyers remorse.  We bought that item on a whim and now we wish we had something else instead.  Or, we were put into a position (by choice or not) that we don’t enjoy and for some unknown reason we struggle to get traction even though we have or can obtain the necessary skills.  Instead of returning that item or looking internally for ways to get through the work situation, we mask it by adorning it with accessories and numerous external activities to attempt to make it better.   We end up spending more money and exhausting ourselves from working extra long and hard.  Many times this extra effort leads to some form of success…but what if underneath it all, we just feel more and more buried and frantic with trying to dig ourselves out?

Perhaps it is time to turn inward for the answer…yes, inward.  Nowadays, it’s common to lose touch with what we really want, even who we are.  Taking that step inward to gain familiarity with our values, strengths and desires can be the key to enhancing our success and fulfillment.

Instead of looking or being swayed exclusively by external advice, looking inward can provide immense clarity.  As we turn internally toward our strengths and desires, we may find more purposeful ways to improve the situation.  Consider advice that comes from others most likely represents their skill set and experience which may have worked for them, yet may only bring us more internal and external pain if it is not in line with our values and strengths.  Of course, outward advice and support can help shorten our learning curve when faced with something new, so the idea is to seek a blended approach.  Seek and absorb the outward advice and then filter it against our own knowledge, experience, values, strengths, desires.

What methods do you use to work through tension?

© Viage Partners 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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