I just want to punch someone.
When we are stressed, you're experiencing the same reaction you would get when you feel a threat coming towards you. We call it the fight or flight response. Many would even add the word 'freeze' in there. It's primal, it's instinctive. It's the woolly mammoth coming towards you and knowing you have to bolt. It's the sabre-tooth tiger pouncing on you and you have to fight.
Did you know that our brains have not evolved from that time. So much so, that it cannot differentiate a potential threat from a real one. Your brain will then send the same signals to the rest of your body, preparing it for action, to fight or to run. You know this to be true from your breathing patterns just after an altercation with someone.
I just want to be OK with everybody.
Stress is an emotional response also, and it's a fear based response alerting you so that you will protect yourself. It's nature's way of keeping you whole inside and out. When we experience stress it is because one of our core values for living has been trespassed.
Our values are emotional states we want to experience on a consistent basis. When we don't experience the state we desire, we are on the defensive, we may get tense, agitated, frustrated, angry, and stressed. We are such emotional creatures, but few of us ever sit down to think about just how much of what we do is emotionally motivated. That's why Spock from Star Trek is so fascinating!
We want to be OK with everyone, to be loved, accepted, respected and appreciated. What we are not conscious of, however, is that we want it on our terms. Which leads me to the next point.
They're pressing my hot buttons.
Every time someone inadvertently trespasses on your value system; I call this pressing your hot buttons; we experience stress. Most people don't realize when it's happening, neither the giver nor the taker. Your hot buttons are the strong values you hold about anything. It's your worldview, it's what you will defend, what gets you uptight and defensive. When you are able to identify what these are you will be able to start the journey of conquering stress.
So in simple terms, your stress comes from conflicting or differing value systems with other people. When you look at it this way you may be tempted to be a little more sympathetic towards others. They simply just don't believe the same as you do, and they're just not that into you to find out!
How does all this work
Let me take you through the sequence and hopefully it will make more sense to you. It all started in your childhood. You developed beliefs based on what mum and dad or guardian taught you. Your beliefs were formed by the age of 7. From then on you sought to confirm these in the world around you. This means contrary beliefs would've been largely deleted from your mind simply because you were not looking for alternatives.
Your beliefs, like tablets of stone in your heart, will direct your life. Our beliefs form our values, some values were created as a result of what we wanted to avoid, other values represent what we aspire to, then there are our core values in the middle. Our core values represent who we really are. I spend 90 minutes with clients in The Stress Less Plan, to uncover their core values because they are the foundation to understanding everything that is going on in your life.
To experience your values you create rules around them. Remember, you want to experience your values on a consistent basis? Your rules become your mechanism to make this happen. This is all unconscious behavior. People who are not into self-help or personal development will have little to no self-awareness that anything is happening. Others may start to see patterns and it gets interesting.
My rule book
So you now have a bunch of rules, like for example everybody has to be as organized as I am. The belief may be that personal organization is praise worthy, that it shows personal pride, or makes you a better person or whatever. You can fill in the blank. Your value is organization. You are now looking for this value to be met on a consistent basis. You expect it from everybody. Think you may be a little stressed?
Your beliefs is not something we necessarily want to change. There are beliefs we may want to change if they're not serving you, and I do this with clients all the time. But the point here is to ask how are your rules serving you? If the rule you are applying is consistently not met, or worse, transgressed or violated, you need to re-examine it. Are your rules serving you or causing you to stress?
When your rules are not met you will always have the emotional reactions of defensiveness that we call stress in today's world.
Can my rules be rewritten?
You may need to spend some time writing down what you think your rules are. Bring what has been unconscious into the light of awareness with pen and paper. Let's uncover them, see them for what they are and rewrite your script. One of the things I get people to do on my Stress Less Plan is to write down what they want to see happen for people to agree with their beliefs. This can be a belief around organization, communication, effectiveness, transparency, punctuality, timeliness, presentation, etiquette, you name it! This simple exercise will start to make you aware of where your stress is coming from.
Once you begin to see the root cause of stress it begins to change everything. You may become more assertive in regards to what you want and need. You may become more understanding in regards to the different values others hold. More importantly, we've uncovered the inner workings of your mind which presents you with the opportunity to alter your behavior which will in turn give you better results and you will enjoy more freedom.
This is the real you, this is why you stress, what will you do about it? It may be time to stop blaming and start exploring. It is time to invest in yourself and create a magnificent life.
Claude Arganaraz is the founder and director of Magnificent Life Coaching, helping career and business professionals find balance, conquer stress, and gain direction and focus. Visit Claude's profile and connect with him.
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