Tell me… are you more the type to take control or let yourself be controlled?
And, when it comes to stress, let me ask you this: What do you think the primary purpose of stress is? If you said that it’s a survival mechanism, you got it right! And, that’s quite important to understand because, in reality, it signifies that “without stress, there is no life.” Logically, this means that we cannot live without stress. In other words, because stress is essential to survival, we cannot live without it.
Now, let me ask you something else. What do you think of the following statement?
“ When you know that you are able to face whatever might happen to you, you are equipped with the only true form of safety the world has to offer. ”
How do you feel about this? Do you believe it’s possible?
And what about the following statement? What do you think of this one?
“ When you know that you are able to adapt to whatever might happen to you, you are equipped with the only true form of safety the world has to offer. ”
Which of the two do you prefer? Which of these two statements seems more realistic?
Most of the people I have asked seem to prefer the second one, which refers to the ability to adapt. This is because people perceive that adapting to a situation is easier than facing it. The truth is, though, that it means exactly the same thing since, when you adapt to a situation, you are actually facing it.
There are two key words related to stress in the previous paragraph. Can you guess which ones? Of course! The first is “ perceive ” and the second is “ adapt ”.
Did you know that the word “ stress ” was borrowed from the field of engineering? Indeed, when we refer to “ stress on materials ,” we are actually talking about their ability to adapt to their surrounding environment. And that’s exactly what stress is: one’s perception of their ability (or lack of ability) to adapt to circumstances and events that occur in their environment. When an individual feels he can adapt, this produces good stress. Conversely, when he feels he cannot adapt, this produces bad stress.
Let’s look at this in a little more detail by examining the following part of both statements: “ the only true form of safety the world has to offer ”. This means that you have no control over what might happen to you. And if, by chance, everything is going right for you at the moment, it’s really only a false sense of safety and part of you knows that… a part that never quite feels safe because it knows that it can’t control the fact that everything can change in an instant.
On the flip side, if you know that you are capable of adapting to whatever might happen to you, you are equipped with the only true form of safety the world has to offer because you know that, no matter what the circumstances are, you perceive that you will be able to adapt.
And that is your only form of safety because essentially you have total control over the perception that you have the ability to adapt. See what I mean?
Let’s me illustrate :
Imagine two colleagues who have been working together at the same place for years. Both get along quite well with their boss, their team, and they love their jobs. Everything is going fabulously and, as they say, “ the planets are aligned. ”
But, what would happen if, from one day to the next, they were forced to work with a new team and take on new responsibilities?
One of the two might perceive that she can adapt to the change while the other might perceive that she can’t.
So, no matter what the circumstances are, two different perceptions will create two different types of stress—bad and good
Good stress gives you energy, stimulates you, feeds you and helps you grow and evolve because you perceive that you have the power to adapt. Such an attitude has a positive impact on your physical, mental and emotional well-being. You are able to give events a sense of purpose. “ Wow! It’s going to be a real challenge, but I’m sure it’s going to help me grow and evolve and that I’m bound to learn and discover a whole lot. And, worse case scenario, I’ll look elsewhere and use the opportunity to think about what I really want in my career at this point. ”
On the contrary, bad stress demotivates you and drains you of all your energy because you perceive that you cannot adapt. Such an attitude has a negative impact on your physical, mental and emotional well-being. You are unable to find meaning in the events. “ Why is this happening to me? Where is this headed? It’s crazy! What will become of me? Things were going so well, why did they have to change everything?... ”
The most important question at this point is: How can I move from bad stress to good stress? How can I change my perception (which is necessary if I want to adapt) into a positive one, which will give me the ability to adapt to a new situation?
Here are a few tips that will help you achieve this :
- Instead of saying “ I have a problem ”, ask yourself one of the following questions :
- Have a plan B, C, etc.
We call these solution-oriented questions because asking them can direct you towards solutions, which means that you are taking action. And, as long as you’re taking action, you perceive that you will adapt to the situation because you are taking control of it. Furthermore, simply having several back-up plans gives you a greater perception that you can adapt to and control the situation. You are taking control instead of being controlled, and that creates good stress!
If you fail to ask yourself these questions, you will remain trapped in the problem, stuck with the feeling that the other shoe is about to drop. And, as long as you remain trapped this way, you are likely to maintain a perception that you cannot adapt to situations and that you are a victim of circumstance. What’s more, if you don’t have a Plan B, you will feel like you’re taking a gamble. You will be controlled instead of taking control. And that is definitely a source of bad stress!
Since life is not possible without stress, which do you prefer to have in your life—bad stress or good stress?
Want to learn more about stress? Register for the Stress Management course (CH117) offered at Technologia.
Sylvie Boisvert is trained in stress management and emotional health at the Institute of HeartMath in California, she also has a background in business administration and corporate coaching.She is also a certified neuro-linguistic (NLP) coach and trainer. A certified coach with the International Coach Federation and the Fédération internationale des coachs du Québec, Sylvie is also a member of the RITMA Association. She boasts over 25 years’ experience in personal and professional development.