Ingredients of Stress and Some Solutions
“Slow down and everything you are chasing
will come around and catch you.”
~John De Paola
In order to become less dependent on alcohol and other drugs - each of us needs to become more competent at dealing with being stressed/overwhelmed........
1. Expectations of Self
The number one source for stress and overwhelming anxiety is our expectation of a particular outcome. In trying to satisfy that expectation, we place unnecessary pressure on ourselves, thus causing stress.
When we place strict expectations on ourselves or on a particular outcome, if things do not turn out the way we imagined, we feel a sense of discrepancy between what we want and what is in front of us. Notions that I 'must, should, ought to, have to' create much more stress than words/phrases like 'I want to' or 'I prefer to'.
2. Taking on Too Much
Many of us have an 'unruly appetite' to please others and to avoid displeasing. As a result, we may not be good at saying no. In a desire to be helpful we can commit to more than we can realistically take on.
Observe yourself with awareness next time you want to say ‘no’ to something, but feel a resistance within yourself. It is natural for us to want to win people’s approval, and we don’t want to let others’ down. As a result, we often give in to this tension of unease that we feel, and we sacrifice our time and energy.
Being too generous and too accomodating may contribute to the well being others but does not necessarily contribute to our own wellbeing. It can often leave us very little time for the important things that actually make us feel better (and be better). Saying no (half the time) to family, bosses, friends is hard to do - but essential to the person who excels.
3. Pressure on Self/Others
There is a internal voice (in our heads) that is constantly chattering (or singing or ruminating or....). When that inner voice is telling us what we’ve done wrong, or how we are not good enough, or why we need to get everything done - it might be a good pressure on ourselves. but if that inner voice is CONSTANTLY chattering that we (or others) are failing to meet expectations - that leads to being overwhelmed.
If we are creating too much pressure on ourselves or others - the solution is compassion. Cut yourself and others 'some slack'. Find something else for your inner voice to talk about (a sports team, a TV program, nature, a recipe, etc.)
The same mental voice in our head can also 'set us up' be telling us that we/others/situations must be perfect, or else our life will be over. Anxiety and stress in our body can often be the result of irrational standards of consistent perfection. Perfectionism takes a lot of energy to keep up. Not just for us - but others in our lives also feel overwhelmed with needing to do everything perfectly (to our standards).
Grasping for control is another source of stress. None of us is able to control daily life as much as we might prefer. Those who are unable to let life/circumstances unfold are lkely to become overwhelmed.
One of the resistances to 'releasing control' is our lack of trust in other people, and trusting that they can do the job as well as us. So we end up doing (or wanting to do) everything ourselves. But when we realize that we don’t have the capacity to 'do it all', we become overwhelmed again.
Being good (even great) at what we do can be an invitation to 'do even more'. This is socially acceptable and impressive reputation that can make us feel special, even admired.
There is nothing wrong with having a lot of accomplishments under your belt. But, be careful with exerting pressureo n yourself to do even more. It's OK to prefer to do more, to prefer to win more games, to commit yourself to be better. But if you MUST do more, MUST win more games, MUST be better - you will spend a lot of time being overwhelmed.
It's better to desire and work for achievement than to 'live for it'.
modified from an original article by Andrea D'Aquino and inclusive of materials/thoughts of the great Dr. Albert Ellis