Many of us have attended workshops titled ‘What is stress?’, ‘How to handle stress’ etc. They offer basic practical tips, but do they really address our underlying behaviours and motivation, or why we might react in this way? With a little reading, I discovered a different way of looking at, and handling, stress.
Marc and Angel recently posted on their blog about the thinking processes behind one’s own personal feelings of stress. They believe that ultimately it is one’s own behaviour, (not good luck or lack thereof), that impacts most, on whether a person feels happy and successful, or not. By ‘behaviour’, Marc and Angel are referring to:
How you react under stress. Whether you decide to meet your commitments or not. How you communicate and interact with loved ones. Your attitude toward bosses, colleagues, employees, and customers. How hard you’re willing to work to do a job right. Whether you’re focused and disciplined or scattered-brained and distracted.
Some people certainly have more than their share of bad luck; others may experience a lack of opportunity, in life, through circumstances totally out of their control, and this of course, will impact on their stress levels, and how their life pans out. Others might manage to cope and even be successful for a time, muddling through, until the pressures in their personal, or professional lives build and boil over into feelings of STRESS. It is then they might find they react with self-destructive behaviors, or other actions that cause them even more personal grief. These behaviours often affect those closest to them in a very detrimental way. Do you recognize any of the commonly beliefs or behaviours that may trigger stress, outlined below?
“It is all too hard! I don’t have time”
Do you believe life is too hard for/on you? Is it too hard to find time to exercise or get fit, resolve conflicts with loved ones, spend with your family, or follow-up on an opportunity? Marc and Angel believe that “You are where you are because of the choices you’ve made in the past.” It really is just as easy to develop good habits as bad ones.
All of us make a choice to go online, watch TV, or spend time with the family; we also have the choice to work on a special project, go to the gym or further our education, and even the choice to show kindness and concern to those around us, just as much as we have the choice to sit, sleep in, or chill out and let things slide.
It takes around three full weeks to begin to develop a new habit and building a new habit, every day, IS hard work. However, hard work pays off and this has to be a personal choice one consciously makes, and that choice is relatively easy. It might be even easier for you to think that life has thrown you a curve ball and that this effectively prevents you having any choice in the matter. If you do happen to think this, ask yourself if you really want to put in the hard yards to effect real change in your life? Then hang in there for the three weeks, and see if it is easier to keep it going, after that. Develop a habit that will help you deal with your inner stress. Use a star chart/reward system or whatever works for you. The first day you miss, in those first three weeks, might break the whole habit, so hang in there and persist!!
“It’s Not My Fault” – Shifting the blame
When we consider our motives and those of others, we often look for who is at fault and this inadvertently causes stressful feelings in us, because we feel it is unfair/unjust. Some of us blame family, friends, parents, teachers, the education system, work bosses, even the government. Many times I have been guilty of this very thing, yet I like to believe I am the one who is in full control of how I choose to deal with my life! So how can I blame external people or things for taking the ‘responsibility’ for my personal actions? I can’t as I am the one with that responsibility. If I want to grow and move on with my life, I have to accept responsibility for the whole of my life, as the only person that can really do this is ME. This gives me choice and with it, the confidence to tackle life’s crises, as opposed to feeling stressed that everything negative that happens in my life, is completely out of my control.
“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” [Sigmund Freud]Don’t let this be you.
When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you surrender full power over that part of your life. In reality, the price of happiness and success IS responsibility. And no one else is responsible for you. [Marc and Angel]*
People Can’t be Trusted
I know a few people who find it extremely hard to fully trust anyone. Of course, some level of discernment is a natural defense mechanism that we use to protect ourselves, but most successful people don’t assume that the world is out to ‘get’ them. They are relatively trusting of others to do the right thing/task. In doing this, they build up a supportive community around them, by conveying trust by their words and actions.
Contrast this with someone who is suspicious and distrusting of others, who must do or verify everything themself. These are people who are full of negativity and this closes the door to any new friendships and possibilities. This belief causes loads of stress and physical fatigue, as they attempt to analyze the intentions of those they interact with, on a daily basis. This self-destructive behaviour, which they falsely believe will protect them, will in fact cause them anxiety and stress.
Trust grows trust. Distrust breeds suspicion. There are many more good people than bad in this world. You are one of them.
Others seem to Manage
Comparing our situation with other people’s, seems to not only elevate stress levels, but also makes us feel less competent, in an instant.
Marc and Angel explain this one better than I can:
Don’t let envy (or jealousy) get the best of you. Envy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own – there’s nothing attractive or admirable about this behavior. So stop comparing your journey with everyone else’s. Your journey is YOUR journey, NOT a competition. You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself. You are competing to be the best you can be. If you want to measure your progress, compare yourself to who you were yesterday.*
Expectations – they ‘should’ have …
Expectations breed disappointment and stress. Has anyone ever felt every expectation was fully met? I doubt it. Many conversations I hear, revolve around working out why others around them have said, or did, this or that and what the others, in their opinion, should have done. These “shoulds” are statement that are difficult or near impossible to fulfill. Try not to have expectations of others. Rather, believe that most people are out there, trying to ‘be’ the best they can be, with what they have got, and with the information to hand, at that very moment in time. It may not be right, we might not agree with it, but we cannot expect any more than this.
A Final Word
Life is Dynamic, full of change, drama and is often unpredictable. It can be scary, but the universe has a plan and it is always in motion. This is beautifully summed up by these wise words from Marc and Angel:
Some of the great moments in your life won’t necessarily be the things you do; they’ll be things that happen to you. That doesn’t mean you can’t take action to affect the outcome of your life. You have to take action, and you will. But don’t forget that on any day, you can step out the front door and your whole life can change in an instant – for better or worse. To an extent, the universe has a plan that’s always in motion. A butterfly flaps its wings and it starts to rain – it’s a scary thought, but it’s part of life’s cycle. All these little parts of the machine, constantly working – sometimes forcing you to struggle, and sometimes making sure you end up exactly in the right place at the right time.*
Questioning our underlying beliefs may assist in reducing the extent to which we feel stressed and this, in turn, may help us to modify those undesirable behaviours that can be destructive. Eliminating expectations and comparisons with others, might change how we ourselves react to stressful feelings, and gives us confidence to take responsibility for our own life. Developing new habits to deal with stress, takes persistence, but carries with it a multitude of benefits.
- Reference: http://www.marcandangel.com/
How we can handle Stress is Something to Ponder About