This is week number two for looking at the “upside of the downsides.” As you might imagine, stress has been a constant companion of mine for many, many years. Everything from being a single mom to running a company (or two), plus the regular headaches of physical injury, divorce, parents moving to the middle of the Pacific Ocean…. on and on it goes.
I’ve learned an awful lot from stress though – more than I can fit in one small bloggish-type thing! It’s revealed so much to me about myself, my true capacity, what tools I need in my toolbox, my limits, and how to clear those limits away.
One of the most valuable things I learned from stress is this: When you come up against something that is too big for you to handle, you have two options: give up and let it steamroll you, or figure out how to become a bigger version of yourself and take it on. Repeatedly choosing the second mindset (not without significant periods of whining, complaining and begging for life to be different on my account) is probably 90% of why I am who I am today.
A few other things that stress has taught me:
Self care (time off, massages, etc) may only exacerbate the situation and make you feel like you really don’t deserve the insult life just heaped upon you. It’s worth a try – but if you don’t emerge from your day spa indulgence ready to seriously tackle what’s at hand, then it’s not doing you much good.
If you are overwhelmed, immediately deal with something small and get it complete. This primes the pump, so to speak, to take on a bigger task.
I’m not a huge proponent of rewarding myself for doing what needs to be done – I find that the best reward lies in having gotten the said thing DONE! However, if you don’t feel that way, choosing to reward yourself might be a good way to motivate your better self to act.
There’s a huge difference between complaining and processing. They seem identical in the first few sentences, but shortly into the conversation, you’ll notice if you (or someone else) is looking for help to come across a possible solution, or just wanting a sympathetic ear. Personally, I try to avoid the latter both in myself, and in others that come to me with a situation. Life is too short, in my opinion, to waste time complaining about it.
What about you? What secrets has stress taught you? What tools do you wield when you face it?
In the first Rule, Petersen delves into evolutionary biology, first with lobsters, then moving along to birds and humans. It seems that we (and lobsters, birds and pretty much all other social living creatures) instinctively know where we are at in the hierarchy (pecking order) of our own group, and even more interesting, our serotonin levels are affected by where we see ourselves in the order, whether top or bottom. A cascade of factors are at play, but ultimately, our sense of confidence, well-being, our ability to handle things and stand up to being bullied, our positive frame of mind, and more are deeply woven into this interplay between social order and the neurochemistry of our minds.
The seemingly simple solution: stand up straight, with your shoulders back. Look life (and others) in the eye. Shake hands firmly. Physically, become the kind of person that would be at the top of the pecking order, not the bottom.
Intriguingly, this is common and repeated advice from every major life coach/ personal development guru I’ve ever come across (think Tony Robbins). Change your state (physical stance and mental framing), and change your life.
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