Stress to Energy…(3)…
Dealing With It… Mindful Awareness.
Many years ago, before stress became Public Enemy Number 1, it was fashionable to be stressed. It suggested a position of responsibility, an ambition, hinted at qualities above that of the average person, aims and lofty goals to which not all of us might aspire.
Then we realized that stress is a sneaky, two-faced, underhanded little (your own expletive) who creeps into life as a peculiarity, an odd feeling, or an unusual reaction, and quickly affirms itself in our lives. By then it’s (literally) a pain in the neck, a headache, an insidious invader who can undermine the most accomplished of people.
No more the fashion statement.
But there are ways to deal with it.
We’ll talk about a few. Today, we’ll start with Awareness, Mindful Awareness.
And that’s exactly what it says; being aware of the fact that we’re reacting to some event, real or imaginary, that we find upsetting, uncomfortable, painful, sickening, debilitating, shameful, embarrassing, hateful¸but most significantly, habitual.
So. How does Awareness help us?
It allows us see that it’s we who are reacting. The reaction is a conditioning, a learned habit that we’ve reinforced in our lives as being the way to react, as if it were the only way.
On the last day, we say that stress is a human reaction, and used appropriately, can prime us to deal with events outside our normal experience.
But what happens to most of us is that we allow that response to become our ‘go to’ one, as if it were the only way to react to any kind of alarm. This becomes the habit for too many people, who don’t realize, aren’t aware, that there may be another way to respond to an alarming event.
We can, for instance, decide to refuse to be offended by an intentionally offensive remark. We can choose to look for an excuse for a barbed statement, and so excuse it. We can search for alternative reactions when we miss out on something, when our boat doesn’t come in, when we’re not chosen for the team. And that does not imply passive acceptance as the way to live. Very far from it.
We can use the barbed remark to galvanise us into action, and do that thing that we failed to achieve previously, for our own gratification, for our own edification.
Then the otherwise stressful reaction becomes a force, an energy, a driving power to get us into action, sustain the action, drive to the finish.
That’s what we commonly call motivation, being moved, experiencing the emotions of desire, determination, emotional and mental stamina, to stick to the task, get to the middle, and finish it.
It’s simple. But it’s not easy.
It takes discipline, persistence, and yes, courage. But start it. Try it on some minor incident in which you might be mildly embarrassed, slightly upset, moderately irritated. Then DECIDE to alter how you feel about it. Get that? DECIDE how you’re going to feel about it. Then do it again, on the same day. And again. And then again.
Your awareness will grow. As you practise frequently, your mind begins to accept the possibility of alternative reactions. Then, if you do decide that a certain instinctive retaliation is right for the moment, you’ll feel a lot more measured in how you take action.
Most people find they’re a lot more comfortable with this, and you may find the same. And that’s how awareness begins to work.
Be aware, be mindfully aware.
Using the word ‘mindful’ brings the next way that you may find helpful in dealing with stress; breathing; Mindful Breathing.