Stress is our personal response to some particular context
Understanding Our Stress Response
One of the first step in dealing with stress is to recognise that it is not the situation that is stressful but that we are feeling stressed in that situation. This change in perception opens up the possibility of increased choice and therefore different possible responses. Even a simple thing like changing our perspective from ‘Work Life Balance’ to ‘Life Work Balance’ can assist in reducing stress and bringing more balance back into our lives.
Our perception of what is happening is influenced by our past experiences, how we have interpreted them and the meaning we have given them. Memories are therefore not what happened put our interpretation of what happened and they will also often be associated with emotion.
Our brain pattern matches what is changing in any given moment to determine what it means to us and therefore how we should respond. If we match what is changing to a similar situation in the past that still feels uncomfortable then we will feel that same feeling. We always have a choice though which is called the gap between stimuli and response. This gap changes depending on the intensity of the emotional response – the higher the emotional response the less perceived choice we have. In extreme cases we can experience being emotionally highjacked which is sometimes referred to as having our ‘buttons’ pressed.
Dealing with Stress
Dealing with stress almost inevitability means taking responsibility for our own experience. When we take a moment to step back and are open to seeing things in different ways we can gain new perspectives and create greater choice for ourselves. What we call emotional baggage is a signifiant contributing factor to ongoing stress or worry. Clearing up misperceptions of past events including unresolved negative emotions is a powerful way to deal with and reduce stress we are experiencing. For most people clearing up emotionally charged events and limiting beliefs in the past is relatively easy using tools like Timeline Therapy.
So next time you are feeling stressed, take a deep breath and ask yourself how is this a problem for me, what assumptions am I making and notice what new choices emerge.