25 Ways to Handle Anger Productively

123153662_1b4a36104f

I observe with slack jawed awe as a customer has a meltdown of manic intensity over an account payment query that would bring the New York stock exchange to its knees—the amount in question? Ten dollars! Like a large indignant toad she looms over the cashier who exhibits superhuman maturity and restraint. Without raising her voice, she smiles and gives a logical step by step explanation of why there is no error.

This information is obviously not penetrating the customer’s self righteous fog so the cashier offers to credit her account. At this, the customer hisses I’m not a charity case! I don’t want a credit! I’m a bookkeeper; this account is wrong; you’ve made a mistake! The cashier points out that it’s an automated accounts system and asks whether she should cancel the credit. Yes yells the customer.

When I walk by twenty minutes later, the combat weary but still calm cashier is asking so can we get this clear? Would you like me to credit your account or not? The customer by this time is the subject of ill concealed humor from others. Her ego temporarily punctured, she whips the printout from the cashier’s grasp and departs.

What Was That All About?

Why expend all that energy making a major production out of a minor issue? Why did she so desperately need to be right while making the cashier wrong? The amount in question was absurdly small so it wasn’t about the money.

Obviously her sense of value was disproportionately dependant on being right. When your sense of value is fragile the propaganda machine inside your head often attributes malevolent intent to people when none exists. I know you’re laughing at me….I know you’re out to get me so I’m going to get you first.

But Anger In Itself Isn’t Bad

Like the stress response, it’s a messenger. Anger has a purpose and is frequently misunderstood. Used productively in the right context, it can be a powerful force for good.

  • Anger helps us draw boundaries
  • Anger tells us what is and is not acceptable
  • Anger alerts us when we’re giving too much and receiving too little
  • When someone’s words or actions make us angry, it tells us what WE need to change to feel safe and comfortable again
  • Anger invites us to look inward—rather than the knee jerk reaction of lashing out.

Don’t Believe Me?

Rewind the movie of your life to a time when you felt trapped, victimized, backed into a corner—and suddenly something snapped “enough! I will not tolerate this! I am worth more, and this has to change now” you screamed. I’m willing to bet that desperate, angry outburst led to a quantum leap forward in some area of your life—a dead end work situation, a painful relationship, an overdue lifestyle makeover or an increase in self value. Anger can catapult us out of a comfort zone that has ceased to be comfortable.

25 Ways To Handle Anger Productively

  1. To derail the momentum of someone’s rage—replace the anger trance with a sudden change of subject, or authoritative command. The verbal equivalent of slapping someone out of hysteria.
  2. Although being disemboweled by a leopard might be more appealing—agree with her, show empathy, invite her to sit down, relax and build rapport you must have had a really rough day…..I know how frustrating it is….this deflates anger instantly.
  3. Count to ten or visualize a tranquil scene….yes it does work! It allows the adrenalin surge to subside.
  4. Instead of reacting like a sleep deprived snake, challenge your perception of the issue; reframe the picture in your mind. Perhaps his intent isn’t malicious. You wouldn’t get mad at a toddler for his limited communication skills, would you?
  5. Breathe—slowly and deeply! It is biologically impossible to remain tense or angry while doing this. Try it!
  6. Anger is a condition in which the tongue works faster than the brain; walk away—mentally and/or physically. It could save someone’s life.
  7. Before radically redecorating your aggressor’s face, press the pause button and ask yourself what underlying fear or insecurity pulled your anger trigger.
  8. Get to know your anger triggers intimately.
  9. Use your mental zoom out facility. See the whole picture, not just part of it. Put things into perspective.

10. If it feels as though you’re trying to reason with a stick of dynamite, hold up a ‘red card’ or ‘stop sign’ to call a halt, while you all cool down and evaluate the situation.

11. Channel your rage into physical exercise—go for a walk, run, ride a bike, dance or pummel a punch bag. Regular exercise reduces the anger impulse.

12. If you can visualize eviscerating him or her, you can visualize floating safely above the war zone in a bulletproof bubble.

13. Toilet train your impulses, instead of exploding lock yourself in the bathroom and vent.

14. When your self esteem is strong, you’re confident about where you stand, so you don’t need to keep ‘growling’ to prove it.

15. Suppressed anger makes you sick. It’s as productive as ingesting arsenic. Pour it out on paper, do some emotional vomiting. You might even end up with a bestselling book.

16. Find constructive alternatives to yelling, swearing, attacking, throwing things or ingesting substances. Have a personal life goal that you are passionate about. Think about it, talk about it, study and research it and work towards it—especially when you feel threatened, overwhelmed and powerless.

17. Laugh! If it’s likely to fuel the fire—lock yourself away and laugh. Use your overflow valve.

18. Talk anger triggers through with a counselor, therapist or good friend.

19. Build firm personal boundaries so that it’s harder for people to pull your triggers.

20. Cut or limit contact with people who are anger triggers in your life. Pump up your verbal self defense skills.

21. Recharge your batteries regularly in a quiet ‘safe space’ that no people or noise can invade.

22. Remember our brains cannot discriminate between what is real or imagined. What you consistently watch, listen to; participate in, focus on and who you hang out with colors the way you react to the world.

23. If you do explode, once you have calmed down—apologize; it costs nothing and has a profound impact.

24. Use your resources—get professional help.

25. Use anger CONstructively instead of DEstructively.

FacebookGoogle+LinkedInPinterestShare/Bookmark

Criticism Is Not Problem Solving

Criticism

Inner Critic © by anthom

Much has been written about criticism and the inner critic.

So why another article?

It seems to me that we take criticism for granted as an OK thing to do.

Perhaps it is our consumer culture run amok. Isn’t complaining how you get something done?

Maybe to some but I think we need a rethink about this topic.

Does Criticism Really Solve Problems?

I don’t think so.

Criticism is not problem solving. Criticism often feels intense, but criticism can be deceptive because it feels as if we are doing something when we are criticizing someone or something. However, more often than not we are not really doing anything when we criticize except putting our displeasure on someone else.

I am not suggesting that all criticism is a mistake – far from it. Without displeasure and criticism we could not improve and progress.

However, all criticism is not equal. In our consumer culture, convenience is an expectation and the absence of it often treated as a problem. This is one  kind of criticism that deserves questioning. Were we promised a convenient world?

Criticism And The Need To Be Right

Criticism can often feel strange or a little bit unreal. After all, the sun does not rise and judge us. The wind does not criticize us. A red light will not mouth off at us when we are driving through it. So criticism is our personal expression of some sort of disharmony, dissonance or displeasure.

Implicit in any criticism or judgment is the thinking that there is a right way to think, be, or do something. This is another form of criticism that deserves questioning.

One of the biggest difficulties people have in relinquishing their critical views is that they may feel that their point of view is perfectly reasonable – and they may be right. However, the result of being right and reasonable creates an obstacle to problem solving. Instead of seeking solutions to problems by opening themselves to ideas, many people turn others into the “problem” and are off and running trying to fix their identified “problem”.

Curiosity: The Missing Link

So what is wrong with this picture?  For starters, something is missing.

One thing that is missing is curiosity. Curiosity is a wonderful way to find a bridge between perceptual differences. Curiosity is about possibility whereas criticism is often about lack.  Curiosity can help us see better when we are willing to learn.

Curiosity takes a fixed position and opens it up to new ideas. It enables an individual to engage a conflict with beginners mind and find a solution to whatever the problem is. Being curious softens self righteous and entrenched positions.

Criticism often comes from a fixed perspective because it assumes that a “right” answer in advance so most differences will be seen as wrong.

A fixed position is often outcome oriented so an individual with a fixed perspective will have more difficulty understanding an unexpected result than someone who recognizes the fluid nature of processes and the potential and likelihood of different outcomes.

HSP’s And Criticism

Highly sensitive people are frequently faced with many critics because of their different perceptions, talents, and processing capabilities.  They will often be misunderstood.  By trying to shift the interpersonal ground from criticism to problem solving  by inviting curiosity they have a greater chance of improved outcomes for themselves and others.

For Additional Information:

Toxic Criticism

Toxic Criticism and Developing Creativity


How Highly Sensitive People Can Prevent Burnout

How To Prevent Burnout - HSP Health Blog

 

If you feel stretched beyond your limit you are not alone. The crushing workloads and stress of so many highly sensitive people  are a prescription for burnout.

You would think that avoiding burnout would simply be a matter of not crossing a threshold of fatigue.

Burnout is not that simple.

Many people in our fast-paced world burn out from the daily demands even if they are not highly sensitive.

For highly sensitive people the problem of burnout is amplified by their naturally higher stress levels caused. The overstimulation we experience is caused by a fast paced, noisy and sensory intense world.

Sources Of Burnout For Highly Sensitive People

Burnout can come from many sources for highly sensitive people:

  • work because we are increasingly expected to be as highly productive and fast-paced as our economic system demands
  • creative burnout since HSPs tend to be highly creative. Creativity does not follow a rigid schedule. However,  the expectation is that it will. Creativity can create pressure all by itself, but with time pressures added, creative burnout can be a result.
  • high empathy can result in serious burnout problems. Our empathy may cause us to dig deep and be extremely conscientious which is an added demand that we place on ourselves. It may not be rewarded, but is something we do to be at peace with ourselves.
  • too much sensory stimulation from all forms of noise, light, chemicals, and electronics to name a few can add also to our burnout potential.
  • toxic relationships, at home and at work are contributing factors as well.

What Is Burnout?

Burnout is not just an emotional problem. Merriam-Webster  defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”

These factors sound simple and probably reflect the reality of non=HSPs. However that does not mean that they do not apply equally to highly sensitive people.

In the case of HSPs, both can be serious factors because our need for rest is high and frequent and because many forms of work do not suit us, in particular all forms of drudgery.

But there are additional factors for highly sensitive people:

  • the rest we need from being around people too much
  • the rest we need from all forms of excessive stimulation:
    • light
    • sound
    • fabric and touch
    • entertainment
    • crowds
    • high pressure situations
    • competitive situations
    • toxic social environments

Work burnout can also occur

  1. when the work we are doing doesn’t suit our skills or interests.
  2. when we know we are not interested in a particular job or task and force ourselves to do it too often
  3. when our work environment is fear-based and highly political
  4. when we have too many emergencies, both at work and at home
  5. when we are sick or a family member is sick causing us to burn the candle at both ends.

Work is a particularly challenging subject for highly sensitive people since we have the need for work that is meaningful, self-paced and our “calling.”

All these factors – the presence of some or absence of others create stress for highly sensitive people. Since our systems are so sensitive, poor health habits will only make all of the potential burnout factors worse.

When we are well we can withstand some turbulence in our lives. When rough spots last too long they start to debilitate us. Life is not meant to be a long emergency.

Assessing Burnout Potential In Your Life

To assess burnout potential in your life, evaluate each aspect of your life below on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being low in stress and burnout potential and 10 being extreme burnout potential.

  1. consider your physical condition:
    • if you are strong and have physical reserves, you may be an HSP who has the ability to withstand long-term stressful situations.
    • if you are an HSP with lower resilience, you need to be careful about how much stress you tolerate and make adjustments to prevent physical burnout.
    • you become fatigued easily
    • you are sick or get sick easily
  2. consider your work situation.
    • are you valued?
    • are you doing work you love r is a lot of it drudgery?
    • do you have the skills you need to succeed in your field?
    • do you work with people who are good for you including taking your sensitivity into account?
    • is the organization well managed so that you are not affected by constant emergencies?
    • do you have to overwork too much?
    • are you compensated well? Are your benefits good?
  3. consider your relationships.
    • start with your family. Is it a warm, loving and supportive family? Are you accepted or are you generally frustrated by the disregard and unhappiness in your family?
    • do you have close supportive friends who accept and understand your sensitivity?
    • do you have a community you are a part of that is also supportive of your HSP trait?
    • are you happy with your social life?
    • are your work relationships good and productive?
  4. consider the time of year.
    • are there certain times when you are more overloaded than others and at risk of burnout?
    • are there times when the people around you are overloaded and your responsibilities increase as a result?
  5. consider the overall stress conditions in your life?
    • do you have burnout in some or two area spilling over into others and are you able to take time to heal?
    • do you see the potential for burnout to develop in any area in the future?
    • when you look at your burnout assessment how does it look to you? piece of cake? manageable? serious burnout potential?

There are no right answers and no score to determine your burnout potential. Your assessment is a map of your current situation so that you can easily get a high level view of your current situation.

With your assessment in hand, it might be useful to consider whether your burnout challenges are people challenges, time management challenges, or a need to develop skills. Sometimes we lack a skill set that could make our life easier, save time and reduce stress.

Steps To Prevent Burnout

Anyone can suffer from burnout. Highly sensitive people are likely to be more quickly affected than others by a high demand culture. But there are some steps you can take to insulate from the worst effects of burnout.

Here are 9 things you can do to prevent your sensitivity from turning into full blown burnout:

  1. strengthen your body first.  Improve your energy by getting a great night’s sleep, exercising, keeping hydrated and eating well.  Detox your body since toxins can build up causing debility over time. Take herbs to support your nervous system and defuse the impact of stress on your body.
  2. learn to meditate to relieve stress and help you with emotional balance. A long term meditation practice can help you detach from toxic people and helps restore your nervous system.
  3. make a list of all the areas of your health that you need to work on and set priorities for them.
  4. research on the internet about areas of your life that need significant improvement. Do not be afraid to tackle large issues like career choices and family problems.
  5. do not be afraid to cut back on commitments that are too draining.  Your other commitments will benefit from your improved attention. You are not responsible for others expectations.
  6. upgrade your skills to keep yourself marketable and functioning well and minimize job stress.
  7. for the tasks you hate, you have several options: drop them if they are really unimportant, break them up into small bite size work units so that you only have to so it for a short time, delegate them, or trade your undesired task with someone else’s undesired task. Avoid drudgery. It is notoriously draining for HSPs.
  8. determine what is most important to you so that you increase your time spent on your high value activities and therefore increase your satisfaction. It will cushion you from less pleasant experiences.
  9. treat burnout as a life-time concern that you can eliminate but taking good care of your life. It is a serious challenge for HSPs but one worth taking on.

Everyone’s life matters and everyone deserves to enjoy their life.

HSPs need to learn to say no. You do not have to carry the world on your shoulders.

When you are flexible, mindful about commitments and your highly sensitive nature and take excellent care of yourself you are doing what is necessary to beat burnout.

Preventing burnout is one of the most important things a highly sensitive person can do.

It is worth the effort.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What My Yoga Therapist Taught Me About My Food Cravings

What My Yoga Therapist Taught Me About My Food Cravings - HSP Health Blog

Have you ever gotten to the point where you feel helpless and hopeless about something in your life?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “Yes” you have. If you are an HSP reading this you most likely have felt this way in your at some point. Life can feel a little jumpy and bumpy from where we stand, right?

Yoga And The Burden Of Chronic Pain

For myself, my hopeless feeling stemmed from living with chronic pain from an old back injury. I can keep the pain at bay, for the most part, through yoga and exercise. But as an HSP, I am also very sensitive to pain and I know that I feel things very intensely.

Even though I’ve lived with pain for years, the pain seems to shift and change. It’s as if I’m chasing it. Being the overachiever that I am, I wanted to stay ahead of the pain. I wanted to know how to “tackle” it when it got bad.

I decided to seek help from a yoga therapist. I am a yoga teacher myself and appreciate all the practice has done for my body and mind. But I was still feeling defeated, like I needed a new perspective outside of myself.

Yoga, Food Cravings And Routine

My new yoga therapist gave me exercises to do at home. Having a plan in place felt good to me. Natural. As an HSP, I thrive off of routine and love to know what to expect. However, living this way is also what kept me in a rut for so long, stuck in unnecessary pain because I was nervous to change up my routine.

Doing that meant that I wasn’t truly listening to my body and what it was craving. I kept trying to get better by doing the same old same old. I wanted relief but was afraid to change in order to get there.

While I loved routine, I also had to be flexible enough to branch out and try something new in order to really honor the needs of my body.
What I hadn’t connected up until this point was that just as I loved and did so well with a plan of sorts in place for my yoga practice, I also did my best with a plan in place for the food I was eating.

A plan that wasn’t too rigid. A plan that was centered around what my body truly craved.

The thing is, I steered clear of this for a long time after being too rigid with food. If I didn’t have complete control over every part of my eating, I felt overwhelmed. This unhealthy relationship with food is something I’ve worked hard to change—into something kinder, softer, more flexible.

So while lying in my very gentle side twist one night (feels amazing on my lower back), I realized something. I put two and two together, finally. The way I practice yoga is the way I eat.

I had been tackling my yoga practice like I was tackling my food cravings, and doing this wasn’t serving me or my body.

Lovingly listening to my body during yoga began to serve as a beautiful example of how I can also listen to my body’s food cravings. I could prepare my meals ahead of time—with care and attention—all with the intention of giving my body what it craves.

I began to ask myself questions like, “How do I want to feel after eating food?” and “Can I slow down, chew, and be more present during this meal?” and “Will this food hurt my belly me or make me feel nourished?”

And perhaps most importantly… “What food is my body actually craving?”

Learning From Food Cravings

I have a sensitive digestion and know that if I eat X (potentially harmful trigger food) I will most likely feel X (tired, bloated, cranky, etc).

I tend to breeze through eating, even through food choices themselves, without really pausing to get present and real what my body is actually calling for.

My adventures in yoga therapy taught me to feel what my body most wanted in the present moment. My body wants to feel free and at ease. It wants to feel peaceful. It doesn’t want to feel weighed down with pain and discomfort and tension.

My body wants to be listened to. Deeply. On my yoga mat and in my kitchen.

So I did that.

I started to turn off the TV when I was eating so that I could feel when I was full. I put my fork down once in a while during meals to help me pause and inhale oxygen, a crucial component to any dish. I relaxed into the act of eating. I chose foods that I knew would make me feel relaxed and free and ready for whatever is next, instead of sluggish and irritated.

I didn’t need to “tackle” anything—with the pain that sent me off to a yoga therapist in the first place or with my relationship with food. When I created a space for something new, I was amazed at what was possible for me. When I got quiet enough to listen to my body and what it was truly craving—that’s when I discovered what real freedom felt like.

I didn’t have much to do after that. Having a plan in place to rehab my body or eat healthy meals that my body wants are both important. But what allows for that plan to be there is my willingness to listen, love, and support myself.

HSPs And The Struggle With Body Image

Source: 738run-lilya4ever-secondsky - Flickr

Growing up highly sensitive can have its disadvantages, for sure. You already know that, and it’s different for each and every HSP. There’s a lot of crossover between us, but we each get to have our very own unique experience. It’s such a journey, right?

What I want to talk to you about today is what I would consider one of the more common “crossover” themes that we experience as HSPs: poor body image.

More specifically—working on perfecting your body.

Self Acceptance And Body Image

As an HSP, I have a strong tendency to want to be in control. This way I am not so overwhelmed. A certain degree of control is healthy and good. The control I’m talking about today is when the control goes to a place where we are sacrificing health to be perfect.

I’m talking about those of us who feel we need to be a different weight to fit in. I’m talking about the ones who feel like they are struggling on a daily basis with loving their bodies, just as they are.

Years ago, before I knew anything about my HSP trait, I was always trying to “get better.” Somehow I landed on using my body image as a way to improve myself. I could not see what was right with me. When I looked in the mirror I focused on every ounce that needed improvement: the scars on my face, the cellulite on my thighs, the bloat in my belly. I set out on a journey to get better quick—because once I got to that magical place surely I would feel less overwhelmed.

I truly felt like people were fixated on my every flaw, just as I was. I believed my thoughts (a dangerous habit for HSPs) and even got into the habit of creating other people’s thoughts for them. My thoughts were so loud, I felt that other people could hear them and were saying things like, “Yes,” in agreement, “you need to lose a few pounds.”

I often joked around that when I grew up I wanted to be somebody. I lived life from that place of not having enough and not being enough. Happiness was surely on the other side of having attained firmer thighs and a flatter tummy – the elusive perfect body image.

So in the midst of working out and trying to control my every bite with food, tirelessly creating my “perfect body” so that I could finally feel free in my own skin and love myself, my therapist at the time had other ideas. She burst right through my perfect bubble when she said something to me that stung hard.

“Maybe you’re supposed to be a different size.”

Um, excuse me?

“Maybe you’re supposed to be a different size.”

Speechless.

How dare she! Couldn’t she see that my body wasn’t perfect yet? Did she not see how hard I was working?

“Maybe you’re supposed to be a different size.”

It stayed with me like an echo. I couldn’t shake it.

And she wasn’t talking about a smaller size.

Reframing My Body Image

At the time, I was nowhere close to being overweight. But the thing was—I had never (ever!) considered gaining weight. Why would I do that? It went against everything I had ever learned. I needed to control my weight, right? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do so that I can feel good about myself?

I felt so found out. Did I need to gain weight? It didn’t matter. I was put face to face with a new possibility, which was exactly where I needed to be. Somebody saw me, really saw me, and let me know about something new. The rest was up to me to figure out.

We are saturated with images—daily. We see how we are “supposed” to look, what we are “supposed” to eat, how we are “supposed” to be. The message is seemingly simple: if we succeed—if we become more and more “perfect”—we are granted access to happiness, feeling amazing in our bodies, and feeling loved by everyone around us.

Let me tell you—that is one hard path for anyone to follow, especially if you are an HSP. So why would you want to? It leads to more suffering and more overwhelm. The very things we already often have plenty of in our lives.

Of course, I didn’t get what my therapist said right away. I just took offense to it. I internalized it as I do with most everything and eventually came out on the other side having finally heard what I needed to hear. The message that came through for me was that I get to love myself NOW. In this body. And that I get to love myself in the future—at whatever size body I become.

Somewhere in between now and the future is some “bettering” myself, sure. But the self love can start right now. There’s no need to wait for my thighs to become “bikini ready” (they’re ready NOW when I put on my bathing suit, thanks!)

What do you think? Do you struggle with body image and how do you deal? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Are You Numbing Your Sensitivity?

Are You Numbing Your Sensitivity? - HSP Health Blob

 

As I stood in line waiting to order my cup of coffee, I reached for my phone in my purse. You know, just in case there were any new updates within the last 5 minutes since the last time I checked it.

I didn’t feel the need to check. I just did it. You might be thinking that yes, you do this, too. It’s like we are on autopilot sometimes. Or are we?

Avoiding Our Sensitivity

What if we aren’t? What if we know exactly what we are doing?

What if we are checking our phones—or eating when we’re not hungry, or watching another episode on Netflix, or {insert supposedly mindless activity here}—because feeling our sensitivity just feels like it’s too much?

Do you do this? Do you participate in little actions throughout your day to avoid your sensitive self feeling too much, feeling life around you?

Why We Numb Ourselves To Our Sensitivity

I get it. We HSPs know what it’s like to truly feel our way through life. It can get overwhelming. Eye contact with a stranger. Sitting too close to someone on the train. Returning a phone call we don’t want to make. Showing up to a stressful job. Meeting new people at a party. Heck, even being with our own families at a holiday gathering.

It can be a lot to handle. Because we feel life’s moments more intensely, the volume can feel like it’s turned up too high a lot of the time. Mere eye contact with a stranger can feel like it’s just too much to handle when you’ve already got an ongoing to-do list in your mind, plus you’re still dwelling on the conversation you had earlier with a friend that just didn’t sit well with you.

Because there’s already so much going on internally, numbing our sensitivity to the stimulation around us can feel like the most natural thing in the world to HSPs.

Sensitivity Does Not Have To Be A Trap

But what if that moment you’re missing is one that may change your life? What if you could have both—a lively inner world and a way to meet the stimulating present moment with courage and calm, at the same time?

It takes some heart to heart time with your intuition, regular practice, and compassion for yourself along the way, but it is possible. With practice, HSPs can slowly baby step their way out of numbing their sensitivity and begin looking at life around them with curiosity, offering it their attention even if it feels awkward. Even if it feels scary.

A nod to a stranger, a “How are you?” to your cashier at the supermarket, showing up to a networking event, not looking at your phone during time spent with a loved one—it may not seem like it, but these are all brave acts for the HSP.

They require us to feel multiple things at once. They ask us to get real with the world around us.

Checking our phones to avoid feeling the world around us is just one way we may be numbing our sensitivity. The ways are endless, and some much more destructive than others. Avoiding feeling too much by drinking alcohol, doing drugs, sleeping too much, eating too much, the list goes on.

Do you catch yourself numbing your sensitivity? If so, how do you do it? What is one small step you can take this week to connect to the world around you while still feeling safe and OK in your HSP skin?

Share with us in the comments below.

6 Ways To Stop Stress From Sabotaging You

file0002062790027
file0002062790027

Source: Morguefile

It’s hard to believe but there was a time in my life when I was dogged by one stressful incident after another. I could attract a stressful situation from another solar system! And this is the formula that not only killed those stressful programs stone dead, but led me to my vocation.

Number 1: Never Take Stressful Incidents Personally

It is very dangerous to IDENTIFY YOURSELF as a stress magnet—thereby adding emotional power—which through repetition encodes this erroneous belief deep in your subconscious mind.

When I realized that the world wasn’t out to get me I laughed. What arrogance we can have when we’re in a victim state! What would lead me to believe that the world revolved around me to such an extent that it had nothing better to do (with 7 billion souls in the game) than victimize me and watch me squirm for fun!

By taking each stressful incident personally I identified with it, branded myself as a victim of stress—thereby installing a program that set me up for similar experiences again and again I am a magnet for stress…I can see the evidence…and no matter how hard I try, I keep getting victimized

On brutally honest examination I became aware that there was a “poor me” pay-off that kept me repeating these experiences. This is how it went no matter how hard I soldier on, I keep getting covered in crap (look how bravely I keep putting myself in the line of fire)!

Ultimately, I understood that I was not the universal “stress target”. My self talk program changed to shit happens and I am unconsciously putting myself in its path! I am going to get out of the way from now on. And guess what? It stopped happening.

Number 2: Don’t Let The Stressful Stuff Pile Up

These are lots of little molehills—not one insurmountable psychological Everest. They are separate incidents and need to be dealt with separately one at a time. When we slip into overwhelm even things that have nothing to do with our direct experience get added into the mix. You hear something depressing on the news and you add it to your stress pack; a friend tells you a sad story and you add it to your stress pack. Something breaks or gets stolen and you add it to your stress pack.

Depressing news is all around us all the time. People tell sad stories all the time. Things break or get stolen all the time. That’s life. These things happen. Plans don’t always come together as we envisage them. Who gave you the stress franchise? It’s not just your experience. It’s every human’s experience from time to time.

Number 3: Learn From Repeating Stressful Situations

If SIMILAR stressful situations keep happening there is something YOU are not learning and applying that keeps them recurring. You are repeatedly using a strategy that you know from previous experience is not going to have the outcome you desire. So change the strategy!

I used to move on too quickly from my less-than-comfortable experiences, before evaluating the part I HAD PLAYED in them. I just put my foot on the gas and headed straight for the next disaster. But then having branded myself a victim, of course I couldn’t take responsibility—that would have blown my award winning victim role right out of the water!

Because I failed to take ownership I couldn’t relate it to something I was doing or not doing. Hey I’m the one being picked on I would tell myself, it can’t be me that’s co-creating this mess. So I never learned the lessons inherent in these experiences. I just kept stepping into the same pile of poo. It really didn’t occur to me that I could choose another route.

Sometimes it’s not what we are actively doing to keep this stress cycle repeating—it’s what we are NOT doing. It can be negligence, impulsiveness, people pleasing and not setting personal boundaries. It can be that we are not expecting a return on our efforts; undervaluing ourselves or being too unassertive.

Number 4: Set Boundaries

If you want to become immune to stress—start setting boundaries Protecting your wellbeing needs to be your first priority. From the moment I made respect boundaries top of my agenda on a daily basis in every level of my life—the stress disappeared.

Number 5: Are You Using Stress As An Excuse?

Accept that you are USING STRESS AS AN EXCUSE to evade responsibility and commit to action. Then things will change! Ask yourself how it is possible for someone as smart, capable and valuable as you to keep repeatedly experiencing these situations. It can only be an unconscious belief program that keeps drawing you back again and again. When I identified the part I was playing in this stress game and changed my behavior and beliefs—the stress cycle stopped. This is not for the faint hearted—brutal honesty is called for.

Number 6: Repetitive Experiences Are A Clue

The repetitive experiences in your life are a diagnostic clue. This is how self sabotage works—we unconsciously install a victim program with some kind of “pay off”. And for as long as we are benefiting from this “pay off” we will never solve the problem. We just keep putting ourselves in a position where the pattern repeats again and again—like lab rats pressing a button to get a reward. The names and places may be different but the dynamic is the same.

Mastering Stress

If you use these 6 strategies you cannot fail to defeat your stress saboteur. There will still be countless potential stresses around you on a daily basis.

  1. Never take stressful incidents personally.
  2. Never group all the stressful stuff together and make a mountain out of it.
  3. If SIMILAR stressful situations keep happening—there is something YOU are not learning and applying that keeps them recurring.
  4. One of the first skills to master if you want to become immune to stress is boundary setting
  5. Accept that you are USING STRESS AS AN EXCUSE to evade responsibility and commit to action.
  6. The repetitive experiences in your life are a clue to where the problem lies.

 There will always be stressful situations around you (just like everyone else) but they won’t have your name on them. They won’t follow you everywhere you go like a bad smell. Why? Because YOU will be consciously directing your life!

Defiance Has Many Faces

Source: Ben Francis - Flickr

Defiance – we have all felt and experienced it. Defiance has received a bad reputation. It is thought osfas a refusal to conform or obey and it can be. Defiance is usually assumed to be a failing of subordinates of one sort or another.

Is it?

What is Defiance?

This is definition from the Free Dictionary:

de·fi·ance  (d-fns)

n.

1. The act or an example of defying; bold resistance to an opposing force or authority.
2. Intentionally contemptuous behavior or attitude; readiness to contend or resist.

Does it work then that defiance is culturally defined? Is defiance perhaps something more than an issue with authority? What is the basis for deciding what is defiance and what is not? Obviously we need rules in order to make our shared world work; we recognize that traffic laws and the like are necessary.

However, defiance is about much more than rules. As the Free Dictionary suggests, defiance is actually something deeper and more personal. It is also universal. Defiance is a refusal to be present.

The Liability Of Defiance

Defiance is not the same thing as questioning. Defiance is a preconceived idea about what should not be happening. It is a mental imposition on reality. So defiance is a refusal to accept reality. Whenever you decide what reality “should” be then you take yourself out of reality and increase your vulnerability and your potential to make mistakes.

Defiance means that in not accepting reality you close yourself off to the real possibilities in any situation. It is a limited consideration of what is happening that sets us up for failure because it overlooks important factors.

Identifying Defiance

There are a lot of ways in which defiance operates:

  • not getting a night’s sleep when tired
  • not accepting or listening to your feelings
  • not listening when in a conversation with someone else
  • expecting problems to magically disappear
  • not respecting your limits and the limits of others
  • driving too fast
  • drinking and driving
  • eating food that is unhealthy
  • impatience
  • competition and snobbery
  • littering
  • expectations
  • self deception
  • overwork

These are just some examples of ways in which an individual can be defiant. defiance is not limited to individuals. It can show up in groups as well and often does.

Attachment And Defiance

All fixed ideas end up inevitably creating defiance because life is not fixed, reality is not fixed and therefore our perceptions should not be fixed either. When groups get together and develop fixed ideas they become a set of beliefs that become the basis of social bonding and the idea platform that organizes daily life. Life, however, is organic and non-linear so all fixed beliefs will result in failure of some kind. It is not the job of reality to maintain our beliefs. It is our job to relate to and operate effectively in reality.

Since we need others to survive, when we are part of a group that has beliefs that defy reality then we are creating risks for ourselves and the group is making everyone more vulnerable. The easiest way to see this in action is to notice the increased vulnerability of  people and the planet to environmental catastrophe because of climate change denial.

At a personal level, we can tune in to the universe, and our surroundings and take them in without denial. At  group level it is a more difficult problem when the majority clais a set of beliefs that is harmful. We are still not able as a group to manage our beliefs so they are in touch with our life circumstances.

The Many Faces Of Defiance

Defiance can be found anywhere: in individuals, groups, organizations and countries. It is our job to get a handle on what is happening so that we can respond intelligently.

Only in giving up defiance wherever it arises can we access out natural intelligence and creativity and put them to work in healthy ways. Relinquishing defiance and replacing it with healthy receptivity is an important skill for anyone to learn but one that highly sensitive people with their increased receptivity have an easier time mastering.

Enhanced by Zemanta

20 Good Reasons to Have Clear Personal Boundaries

file5681256082406
file5681256082406

Source: Morguefile

I was struck recently by the exceptionally high number of clients I see, whose inability to set firm personal boundaries is resulting in supersonic stress levels.

Smart business people repeatedly compromised by unreliable colleagues, over demanding superiors or downright crooked clients; caring, supportive people with predatory partners or out of control children. People of integrity whose opportunistic friends, family or employees manipulate them mercilessly and drain their time and energy.

Who Has Difficulty With Personal Boundaries?

Although their stories are all quite different, these are some common threads of boundary challendthat connect them.

  • They are all natural born givers and people pleasers.
  • Their personal boundaries are weak or non existent.
  • Their goals are fuzzy.
  • Their empathy triggers and guilt glands are super-sensitive.
  • They are popular.

And that’s the clue. Sometimes the personal price you pay for this kind of popularity can be way too high. Depending on others to peg your value is a fast track to stress. Why? Because it means other people control your choices in everything you do. They always have the leverage advantage.

This not only leads to self sabotage but it can be dangerous too.

Being overly dependent on other’s approval can make you go against everything you value, if the threat of exclusion from what you perceive as any kind of “inner circle” is terrifying enough. The plots of many thrillers are based on exactly this dynamic.

We all crave validation and respect but at what cost? An inability to set healthy boundaries means sooner or later someone is going to have to pick up the slack—and your place in the popularity polls will plummet. The reason everyone loves you is probably because you do what they want—at the expense of what you want.

Whose Life Is This Anyway?

Although it wasn’t always comfortable, growing up a wild child in a small town with an eccentric family certainly put people pleasing in its right place for me. I learned at an early age not to care too deeply about other people’s opinions. And this immunity to popular opinion helped me make my own rules. As far as I was concerned, if my actions gave those with empty lives something fascinating to focus on, I was performing a community service!

20 Benefits Of Boundary Building

When people praise or validate you, accept it; enjoy it, but don’t become dependent on it. You know whether you have done well or not. Next time you are tempted to cave in order to win popularity, consider these

20 Benefits of boundary building:

  1. Setting boundaries saves time.
  2. Setting boundaries builds respectful relationships.
  3. Setting boundaries increases productivity—yours and everyone else’s.
  4. Setting boundaries enables a team to work as a team—everyone is headed in the same direction, towards the same clear goals.
  5. Setting boundaries builds accountability within your team—no passing the buck.
  6. Setting boundaries stops you feeling overwhelmed, resentful, victimized and stressed.
  7. Setting boundaries frees up energy and enthusiasm.
  8. Setting boundaries fosters confidence, leadership, and organizational abilities.
  9. Setting boundaries generates respect.
  10. Setting boundaries aids concentration and decision making.
  11. Setting boundaries creates a healthy balance between giving and taking.
  12. Setting boundaries allows you to take care of your own wellbeing.
  13. Setting boundaries leads to a happy, balanced life.
  14. Setting boundaries minimizes misunderstanding and conflict.
  15. Setting boundaries gives you a sense of control in your life.
  16. Setting boundaries makes delegating more effective.
  17. Setting boundaries teaches family and team members to think for themselves.
  18. Setting boundaries vastly improves communication—everyone knows where they stand and what is expected of them.
  19. Setting boundaries goes a long way towards preventing bullying.
  20. Setting boundaries gives you an authentic sense of authority.

Your boundary building expertise automatically acts as a map for the people who relate to you in any way.

Advantages Of Developing Great Boundaries

Boundaries spell R E S P E C T on every leveland shape the way people respond to you.

If you put inappropriate parts into a machine that is vital for production, will you get maximum production? Success requires putting the right people, with the right qualities, in the right place, for the right reasons—in every area of your life.

Yes you might well have to do some reshuffling to accomplish this. And people pleasers find this very painful. They would rather struggle on for years, having their relationships, careers or health sabotaged, dragging the deadweight of dead wood behind them, silently picking up the slack and stressing themselves into ill health—than just take a stand.

Drawing firm boundaries doesn’t mean you don’t care.

It means you care enough about the bigger picture, to take the necessary actions. It doesn’t mean you don’t like someone. It means you understand where they belong in your life—and where they don’t. It just means you are placing the right components in the right place to maximize the chances of a successful outcome for all.

And yes, when you first install personal boundaries, you will face criticism. Not everyone will understand why, and some will take it personally, but they will get over it. And the wear and tear on your stress-o-meter will be worth it a thousand times over.

What do you think?

21 Habits of Stress-less People

Source: Randy Robertson - Flickr

Why, in a world full of potential stress triggers, when exposed to identical stressors, do some people seem to be immune, while others fall over like flies? While researching material for my books, I have ploughed through mountains of scholarly articles, case histories, experiments, research and conclusions about why people succumb to stress – with the statistics to back them up.

But there seems to be very little research allocated to success stories.

Why is there such an emphasis on the problem? Why aren’t we spending equal or greater amounts of time and resources on studying the exceptions to the rule; people who live in a high stress environment or experience periods of incredible pressure, without succumbing to the negative effects of stress? In fact many emerge fitter and feistier than before. What do these people do differently? This is what I wanted to know.

And these are some common themes I found.  

What Stress-less People Focus On

Stress-less people know that the thoughts they think, the words they speak, the food they eat, the books they read, the movies they watch, the games they play, the expectations they have, the people they hang out with, their daily habits—and most of all their dominant feelings, shape their lives.

The exercise habit

It seems that some people would rather eat rat poison than exercise. Extraordinary I know, but these are some common excuses I hear:

I hate exercise. More than you love being healthy and relaxed you mean? What does this say about the relationship you have with your body? If you haven’t tried every form of exercise there is and hated every one, this is untrue.

I have family commitments. And do these include being a role model for how to be healthy – or not? Do these family commitments include the risk of early degeneration and death? And what is preventing family exercise?

I don’t have time. And do you have time to be stressed and ill? What is stopping you re-arranging your priorities, or combining exercise with work or socializing?

I can’t afford it. Do you have any idea how many types of free exercise there are? Have you researched the potential cost of not exercising?

Exercise is a powerful act of self love; a prayer of appreciation; an absolute non negotiable for building immunity to stress.

The water habit

The African baobab tree, because its habitat is so arid and dry, has a unique ability to store large volumes of water. We do not! The human body is composed of around 85% water. This provides structural support for our billions of cellular citizens. It supports complex biochemical reactions and is the major component of our blood and other body fluids.

Like the canals in Venice, our internal transport system is waterborne.

It is this water supply that distributes what we ingest throughout our bodies. It is water that flushes toxic waste from every part of this miraculous ecosystem, preventing us from turning into toxic swamps.  As long as enough water and oxygen are available, everything works smoothly.

Yet there are staggering numbers of people on our planet who rarely or never drink water.

The late F. Batmanghelidj, MD, author of Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, spent years researching the profound benefits water has on the physiological functions of the body – and the lethal impact of dehydration. From the new perspective of my twenty two years of clinical and scientific research into molecular physiology of dehydration, he wrote, I can safely say the 60 million Americans with hypertension, the 110 million with chronic pains, and the 15 million with allergies….all waited to get thirsty.

The sleep habit

Most of us sleep significantly less than we did fifty years ago. Many people think sleep is a waste of time. Research is ongoing and although we may not yet know exactly what sleep does, we do know that lack of it has multiple negative knock-on effects.

It hasn’t been used as a torture tool throughout history for no reason.

According to various surveys, sleep deprivation among children may have a profound impact on ADHD symptoms. When adults are tired they usually become sluggish. When children are tired they tend to overcompensate and go into overdrive. This is why sleep deprivation is sometimes confused with ADHD in children. Children (and adults) may also be inattentive, impulsive, moody, emotionally explosive, or aggressive as a result of sleep deprivation. Insufficient sleep and stress go hand in hand.

The eating habit

Unsatisfied emotional hunger often results in an over-dependence on nurturing from food. Being a product of Africa, where the specter of starvation often stalks, it’s a bit of a stretch for me to understand the scourge of obesity that is equally lethal.

Half the world is dying from need. The other half is dying from greed.

And greed is just another form of need.  Then in the midst of greed, people are dying from self inflicted need (anorexia or bulimia.) Yes, I’m confused too!

The weight of an obese body is only partly due to an imbalance between food and exercise. What about the weight of despair, shame, loneliness, resentment, and lack of self love? Obese bodies are carrying burdens they were not designed to carry – and seeking solace from an ineffective source.

Imagine having a twenty, thirty or fifty year backlog of unresolved issues in storage; stuffed into the warehouse that is your body. Of course your body has to stretch to accommodate them. So it has to keep expanding in order to contain this mountain of unresolved stuff.

Our bodies were designed to process the experiences of life—not store them in dispatch!

Enlist professional help and have a spring clean, just as you would in your home; get rid of anything you don’t use on a daily basis and is taking up valuable mental real estate. Our most compelling desire is not for food. Our most compelling desire is for love, respect and acceptance.

A good therapist can help to disentangle physical hunger from emotional hunger and when emotional hunger is satisfied, physical hunger is easy to satisfy in a healthy, balanced, enjoyable way.

The mental cleanliness habit

When your vehicle gets dirty, you take it to the car wash. When your clothes get grubby you put them into a washing machine. What then do you do with your mind and emotions when they get mucky?

The amygdala, a part of our second brain is our memory museum.

Memories attached to strong emotions (whether intensely pleasurable or intensely painful) are more likely to be stored in here.

When the amygdala registers impressions emailed to it by our sense of smell, taste, sight, touch or hearing, it processes it by ‘speed dialing’ previously stored information to find a match. This is a valuable time saving function. But it can be problematical because people, situations and events that are even indirectly related to this memory, can trigger an overreaction.

Say for instance, you were involved in a tragic car accident on a mountain road in snowy conditions, the stored memories might trigger an instant fear of similar smells, sights, sounds or sensations. If you were humiliated, bullied or abused by a muscle bound man with red hair and an Irish accent your speed dial function might trigger an instant dislike or fear of anyone answering even part of that description.

Our prejudices, fears and stress triggers are often based on these false memories.

The oxygen habit

Dr. Otto Warburg, a two-time Nobel Prize winner reveals that the cause of most disease is lack of sufficient oxygen in the body. Oxygen deficiency fosters the build-up of disease, which, over a period of time overwhelms the body’s immune system.

Most strains of harmful bacteria, as well as cancer cells are anaerobic and cannot survive in the presence of oxygen.

Under ideal circumstances, our atmosphere contains about 20% oxygen, although it has recently been reported that in many of our more polluted cities, levels have dropped to around 10%. It’s obvious that our oxygen needs are not being met. Several of the most common ailments now affecting our population especially in the polluted metropolitan areas are directly related to oxygen starvation. It’s hard to be de-stressed and oxygen starved at the same time.

The wellness habit

I’m wondering whether the world of medicine and therapy is running out of diagnosis labels, and manufacturing illnesses. For every conceivable feeling, emotion, thought, or physical characteristic they seem to create a diagnosis, an appropriately official label—and of course medication to manage it.

I guess disease mongering is pretty lucrative.

So that psychopathic bully in the playground is just a poor misunderstood boy suffering from Defensive Reaction Syndrome. And that habitually obnoxious colleague you work with? Well, you mustn’t make him feel marginalized; he’s just suffering from a Social Personality Challenge. The employee you’re about to dismiss because she’s so lazy she makes a slug look hyperactive—well, she’s just suffering from Delayed Motivation Syndrome.

Come to think of it, I would undoubtedly be a candidate for a diagnosis.

I’m terminally happy and unnaturally solution oriented. I take abnormal responsibility for the quality of my life at every level, I laugh far too much, I’m too damn healthy, my weight hasn’t varied in thirty five years, I lavish my loved ones with too much affection and greet each day with excessive anticipation! There must be a label for this condition.

This emphasis on illness instead of wellness has encouraged many people to develop an illness dependency.

At some point in their past it received positive feedback and rewards. It proved an effective way to get attention and feel nurtured. It met their needs, and so it stuck. We’re all attention seekers by nature. So if we’re not getting attention and appreciation through constructive strategies we’ll use whatever works. Entire cultures have evolved that reward illness and penalize wellness. I don’t know about you, but when I’m ill, I’m definitely stressed.

The love habit

If you were given a multi million dollar mansion at birth – would you allow it to deteriorate into a seedy, unsanitary squat, with a leaky roof, cracked and peeling walls tattooed with graffiti, and a blocked sewerage system?

So why do we allow the opinions, trends, expectations, benchmarks and criticisms our environments bombard us with, to devalue this truly miraculous organism with which we live so intimately twenty four hours a day?

When we love ourselves, and are loved by others, a cocktail of healing chemicals are released, which in turn triggers the release of anti-stress and anti-aging hormones. These speed cellular repair.

Only when we deviate from our natural biological balance, does our body rebel.

The 21 Habits Of Stress-Less People

Stress-less people:

  1. Make their health a priority – especially when under pressure
  2. Don’t warehouse mental or emotional ‘weight’ and keep their internal environment clean
  3. Drink plenty of clean water
  4. Breathe clean air
  5. Exercise regularly
  6. Don’t deprive themselves of sleep
  7. Know the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger
  8. Ask for and accept help when they need it
  9. Are not dependent on other people’s approval – they already have their own
  10. Are not slaves to societal trends
  11. Instinctively look beyond life’s challenges for messages and solutions
  12. Can detach when necessary and have good emotional management skills
  13. Focus on wellness and balance – not illness and imbalance
  14. Treat their minds, bodies and emotions with respect – especially when under pressure
  15. Consciously choose the words they speak
  16. Consciously choose the fuel they feed themselves
  17. Know that what they put in they get out
  18. Surround themselves with supportive, uplifting people
  19. Deliberately adopt productive daily habits
  20. Feel joyful and positive most of the time
  21. Love themselves – without reservation

Would you like to become immune to stress? Then contact me at pam@paminamullins.com

What habits would you add?