STRESS: SELF-ENHANCING ATTITUDES

These lower the stress levels. Adopt these:

1. ‘My life is my responsibility. I will co-operate with others but won’t demand continuous support from them.’

2. ‘I will remain flexible in my views of others and will not make rigid rules for them or myself.’

3. ‘No one is perfect. We all have the right to make mistakes. I will not condemn myself or others even when I intensely dislike my or their behaviour.’

4. ‘I am adventurous enough to take risks that are not foolhardy and to do what I want even if there is a good chance I might fail.’

5. ‘I am not the centre of the universe and although it would be nice if I was, I’m not. Therefore I will always be interested in others and will always act morally to protect their interests where possible.’

6. ‘I am profoundly interested in myself yet I am willing to make sacrifices for those I care about—without becoming a martyr.’

7. ‘My focus in life is not on being the centre of other’s attention, but on those absorbing activities that I enjoy.’

8. ‘I accept that I live in an impartial world that offers no guarantees for my well-being and that the uncertainty of life can upset my plans.’

Some bad luck is a mathematical probability for all of us during our passage through life. Fear of bad luck can significantly raise stress levels and is a waste of time—all the statistics prove that very little, if any, of what we fear ever befalls us. Fear, for the main part, is simply False Evidence Appearing Real.

In addition to imagining the worst, humans have a tendency to exaggerate the seriousness of any given life situation or predicament. This habit of ‘awfulising’ and ‘catastrophising’ can be overcome by vehemently disputing these thoughts as they arise. Looking for perfection in an imperfect world is a futile and stress-raising exercise that many fall victim to. Demanding (‘should’, ‘ought’, ‘must’) that we should find the perfect partner, have perfect sex, have the perfect friends, kids, house, car, job and that we should perform perfectly and always succeed, is expecting too much from life. It sets us up for bitterness, resentment and frustration, which can lead to anxiety and depression. The happiest couples are not those who are the most compatible, but rather those who are most tolerant of each other’s differences.

Adopting the eight self-enhancing attitudes will not entirely do away with feelings of dissatisfaction—terrible and distressing things can happen in life. However, they will prevent feelings of dissatisfaction escalating into feelings of emotional disturbance; that is, they will keep stress down to non-health-affecting levels.

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