The Truth about Your Stress
Posted by Claude Warner on Friday 22nd January 2010 at 16:19:46
The dynamic tension between one’s current state and a possible future state is what leads to stress.
If the future state is positive i.e. the achievement of a goal or accomplishment, then the dynamic tension of the stress can be a great motivator. This stress is called eustress or “good stress”.
If the future state is negative i.e. something that you want to avoid happening, or fear happening, then the dynamic tension can be hugely demotivating. This stress is call distress, and over time can lead to physical illness and depression.
What determine the nature of the stress is how you perceive or frame the stress, i.e. as stress to achieve a positive outcome or stress to avoid a negative outcome.
To one person losing one’s job would be akin to losing one’s life, whereas to another it would be a chance to explore new options.
The key to interpreting stress in your life is to examine how you have framed it, and to critically examine your own presumptions around that frame.
Let’s imagine that you fear being without a job, and that your last performance review was not too positive. The dynamic tension between you “losing your job” and “performing well enough to keep your job” can lead to all the symptoms associated with negative stress.
Now, what happens to your stress levels if you hear that your company is planning cutbacks? Chances are they will go through the roof and put you into severe distress.
So what can you do about it? Bring the truth to bear.
As objectively as possible, ask yourself questions such as:
• What are the actually chances of losing my job? (If necessary, use a scale from 1 to 10.)
• How can I position myself to move into a more in-demand or mission critical position?
• What opportunities are there for my current position in other companies?
• How does my CV look? Is it up to date, and what does it say about me? Should I re-write it?
• What can I do to enhance my CV in terms of further study or experience that I need to gain?
• How long will my finances sustain me if I am unemployed? It may be longer than you think.
• What other career options could I consider?
• What have I always wanted to do, but have been too afraid to take the leap? Now that I might be pushed I no longer need to fear it, I will be in it, so the risk then is “not doing” what I have always wanted to do?
These questions are just examples. The questions you ask will always be relevant to your context.
The goal is to examine your perception of the stress as objectively as possible from as many different perspectives as possible.
You may conclude that your stress is actually being drive by False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR). This is by no means always the case, but many times our stress is determined by our perception of it, as opposed to the truth around it.
The most dangerous man on earth is the man who has reckoned with his own death. – GK Chesterton
Having reckoned with your own stresses, and put to death many of your untruthful perspectives around it, how powerful and effective could you be?
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