Well, I think there is a difference between stressors and stress, right? Stressors are those things that we may interpret as stressful, and stress is a feeling. Everyone does not react to stressors the same way - proving that it’s all in the interpretation. In a car accident, one person may be crying and panicked, one person may be angry and yelling, and another may be quietly tending to the wounded.
Are our reactions merely a matter of personality? Are we either inborn over-reactors or inborn soothers? Is there a way to change?
I’m here to say yes, there is a way to change! There is a way to become a peaceful person despite stress. I’m not perfect at it, but I’m way better than I used to be. I know - I’ve been there, as the panicked person, numb or not knowing what to do or say. But with time and practice, I’ve been better able to be the person who can think clearly and help out.
The first step to stress busting is to learn how to be more mindful of your own feelings. Learn how to breathe, experience your own feelings, and accept them, without having to act on them.
The second step is to accept facts as they are, including your own feelings, others around you, whatever the situation is - accept these as facts. When we do not accept facts as they are, we are continually stressed, fighting against stuff we cannot change. That’s misery!
The third step is to become more mindful of other people, their feelings, their ideas, opinions, logic, and actions as just - theirs. We put a compassionate boundary between us - we accept our own feelings and thoughts as our own, in our own control, and others’ feelings and thoughts as their own, under their own control. We fully accept other people’s developmental level, with compassion knowing that others will learn and grow as we all do eventually.
The fourth step is to get a picture in your mind of the bigger perspective. Look at the longer view, the wider view, whichever one helps you put the current situation into a larger perspective in your life. Widening one's perspective gives one the ability to not be so concerned about changing something right at this moment - relieving a lot of stress. It helps us see if action is within our role or not, appropriate or not.
The fifth step is living ones values. Living ones values is usually spiritual in nature and can include being more fully engaged on a daily basis in what is most important to us. This can look like service, listening deeply to someone, allowing ourselves to feel love or compassion for someone. It usually involves staying in the present moment and focusing on the here and now of whatever you are doing. Whatever you are doing, make it good, make it worthwhile, make it valuable to you and others.
The sixth step is to accept your limitations. This may be acknowledging and letting go of those plans and wishes you simply cannot have at this time. Maybe it is something you can have in the future, or can work up to like a race, but it is something that needs to be let go. Let go of those things you cannot have right now. Let them go. Let them be. Let yourself be.
If these things don’t seem to work for you, or you are puzzled by one or more of them, please let me know! I’d love to help you find more peace, as I have in this very stressful world.
Clinical Director, Mt. Grove Counseling
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