4 Perspectives on Stress
“Our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another” – William James
The biggest problem with “I have so much stress” or “I’m so stressed, I don’t know what to do” is that we aren’t giving ourselves the permission or the space to find a solution to the problem causing the stress. Repeating these two sentences are the most futile actions one can take against stress; one that cripples us. All you are doing is creating a vicious circle of “I can’t” and “I won’t”.
Always remember, the underlying emotion of stress is fear – fear of losing control over a situation or of losing out on something; fear of failing to live according to our belief systems or living up to people’s expectations. Hence the first step towards peace of mind is to be aware of this fear and to acknowledge it. Awareness followed by acceptance can lead to great changes as it opens the door to easy breathing, clear thinking and appropriate action.
Perspective #1 – What is my worst case scenario?
Fear magnifies every single thing. Hence it’s important to differentiate between what our subconscious mind triggered by fears is conjuring and what is the reality that can be expected. The challenge here is not just to merely see the reality but to also accept it and act accordingly. Many times our worst case scenario is also magnified because the outcome is not in our favour or exactly as we desire. Sometimes accepting this truth is imperative as it then allows us to move on to “what next?”
Perspective #2 – Is the pain something I really can’t handle?
The next perspective is to understand our pain threshold – physical, mental and emotional. We are far more resilient than we believe. Very often even the ‘worst case scenario’ in our heads is something we can tackle and go through with minimal damage. Ask yourself if you are getting worked up for a valid reason. Is the outcome or expected trouble or pain really something you will not be able to handle?
Perspective #3 – Do I need to take responsibility and start making different choices?
A lot of the stress we go through is self-created. And I don’t just mean “worst case scenario”. Are you in a stressful situation because of choices you made? Think about it. If yes, then take responsibility. Once you have done that you can move on to damage control, learn the lesson and let go. It’s time to make different choices; ones that can be from experience and wisdom. This perspective is about courage – the courage to admit the truth and to make the right changes. It’s about taking responsibility for ones own life.
Perspective #4 – What am I allowing?
This last perspective is an extension of #3. When you find constantly yourself in stressful situations because of someone else’s choices or behaviour, you cannot lay the blame and walk away. You have to take responsibility and understand why you allow such behaviour or be party to such choices. What stops you from steering clear or putting a stop to it? Yes, life isn’t simple, but it was not meant to be difficult either. This perspective is also one of introspection. It’s about understanding that instead of blaming another person and waiting for them to change, sometimes it’s best we make a different choice and change ourselves.
Here’s an exercise to relieve stress by putting mind over matter. Write down a stressful situation or problem. Then use one or any of these perspectives to gain true clarity about the problem, your thought process and your reactions. You may find the problem is no longer a problem.
For more perspectives on stress as well as easy and useful techniques to relieve stress, join me for my ‘How To Overcome Stress’ Workshop on 16th June. For details click here.