To feel stressed is a natural physical and emotional response. It’s the body’s high alert state that enables it to focus all it’s attention on the threat at hand. Much like a nation has a high alert state to respond to war or a terrorist threat.
When it becomes damaging, is when the threat does not get dealt with and so, the high alert state is prolonged.
Look at any country that has been at war for a prolonged period. You will find that their resources become depleted as attention is taken away from the general maintenance and nurturing that helps a country to stay healthy and prosperous and grow.
Imagine that the 100m sprint Champion ran with the same intensity as they normally do, but for 26 miles. It’s obviously impossible. He would collapse from lack of oxygen, yet that is essentially what we are trying to do by living with prolonged stress.
In just the same way, your body cannot maintain it’s physical state of high alert for long. It’s focus on the perceived threat diverts resources away from the maintenance and growth of your physical and emotional health. So as a result your physical and emotional resources become depleted. Your bodily systems become neglected and start to degenerate.
You cannot maintain focus at such an intensity for long periods and so your concentration and memory becomes less powerful and less effectiveness. You experience more confusion and overwhelm.
Something happens to make you feel stressed, like a row, being cut up in your car, your Boss giving you an unreasonable deadline, now that is a relatively short lived thing. But if you fail to come to terms with the issue in your own mind, then it’s going to stress you for hours or days or months even, rather than minutes.
The Emotional Seasons of Life
Every emotion is valuable and worthwhile. To truly live, you have to experience the full range of human emotions. The emotional seasons of life.
Many people have labelled some emotions good and some bad. But that isn’t true. They are all needed for a full life. It’s just that some of them we want to pass through quickly.
We have learned about life by compartmentalising it into small sections. And so Depression seems bad and Happiness seems good. When they are seperated in such an artificial way, Psychologists and Psychiatrists come to believe that one must be avoided and one must be sought.
But a life has to be lived holistically. It is the sting of pain, of despair that can send someone into a life that passionately pursues their magnificent obsession.
Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and so on all found greatness from situations where despair seemed to be the obvious conclusion.
Happiness comes from a passionate focus and involvement in life. It is the state that comes about as you become so engrossed in something greater than your sense of self that you lose all thoughts of your self and merge consciousness with the stream of life.
But you can never get this passionate focus without feeling the pain and the despair of a situation that compels you to devote your full attention to it’s resolution.
Put simply, you can’t get ecstatically happy without feeling the pain of despair.
The secret that happy people have, is that they don’t stick around in the negative emotions.
You see, the secret to a full and rewarding life is to experience each emotion without judgement, without blame, without excuse, but instead with full enagagement and full involvement. Happy people feel the sting of despair, of frustration, of overwhelm, but they respond by overcoming the limitations that cause that feeling.
Like an Olympic Diver they dive in, sink to the bottom and quickly rise from the bottom to the top as quickly they can comfortably do so.
In this way they gain the full benefit and experience the range of emotions, but they dwell only on the more positive states. When they feel what most call negative emotion, they seek resolution and solution, and in this they find the sense of mission and passion that carries them beyond bodily comfort and sensory pleasure to a state where they devour life in it’s freshest and most exhilarating condition.
The Stress Epidemic
The Twenty First Century’s first epidemic was Obesity. Stress has become the second epidemic.
Obesity came about when our evolution meant that there is so much food, in Western civilisation at least, that we are faced with an overwhelming abundance of choice.
Stress has come about because we are faced with an overwhelming abundance of choice of what to do with our time.
It is not the fact that we have choice that causes us to grow fat or stressed. It is the fact that we have so little skill at making good choices and prioritising effectively. We get fat by trying to consume more food than we can burn off. We get stressed by trying to consume more of life than we can effectively digest.
We do not know our limitations and we seek to do all we would like to do without overcoming our limitations and by doing so increasing our ability to consume more of life.
The main limitation most of us have is the ability to process life. When we get cut up by a car, we fume for hours afterwards. When we row, it affects us for days afterwards. When we worry, we worry not for minutes, but days or weeks.
It is natural to feel threatened, to feel anger, to feel fear, to worry about potential problems. And these instincts serve us well as part of a balanced life. But in an undisciplined mind they dominate and so a person’s entire focus for living becomes avoiding terrible consequences in life. And there is no fun or joy in such a life because the positive and exciting positives become outweighed by fear and worry.
You see, just as you check you car mirrors to be aware of potential danger, it is worthwhile sensing similar hazards in the road ahead. Just as you correct your course as a car’s horn makes you aware you have swayed into another lane, so too does a row provide you with feedback on where you currently are. But that is all these are. Momentary triggers for course correction.
But it is only in your desire to pretend that you are perfect, only in your wish to never face truth, that these momentary blips become a big deal. It is from not wanting to have to change that you get mired in negativity.
Life is fluid and ever changing. And as with any movement, much of it is off-course. It is not the fact that you go off-course that affects the quality of your life, but how you deal with the fact that you are off course.
You Have To Embrace, Not Reject
It is possible to live a life filled with bliss. Not by avoiding negativity, but by embracing it. By experiencing it fully and using the wisdom it brings to continually course correct.
Despair is a message from the greatest potential you to you now.
Frustration is a message from the greatest potential you to you now.
Stress is a message from the greatest potential you to you now.
By listening and acting on this wisdom and insight you move up the emotional ladder. By denying the wisdom your emotions bring you shut the door on your ability to rise up the emotional ladder.
The key to a happy life is not in a blissful environment with a universe filled with those who will arrange themselves around your wishes. Instead it is following the wisdom of our emotions which will lead us like stepping stones towards our fullest potential and our happiest life.
Advanced Stress Management Guide Contents
What Is Stress?
What Are The Costs of Stress?
What Are The Effects of Stress?
What Are The Causes of Stress?
How Do People Generally Cope With Stress?
The Mindset Shift: It’s Ok To Be Stressed, But Get Over It Quickly
The Secret To Emotional Stress Management
Reduce Stress And Avoid The Stress Tax
How To Deal With Stress
The Way To Relieve Stress
The Law Of Fairness
Pyrrhic Victory And The Value Of Losing