The Upside to Stress

There is an upside to stress!

Stress is a symbol for something deeper. And often we sell ourselves short in thinking that stress is bad. The reality is that as you read the definition in the dictionary its a force that pushes or pulls you…. Here is an example of when stress can be good… For a professional athlete it pushes them to another whole level that they never thought they were capable of.

If we look at it that its pushing us… maybe stress is trying to hold our hand and carry us along to say, where you are is not where you should stay.

It reminds me of an old story about putting a frog into lukewarm water. Because as you slowly turn up the heat, they never notice that it gets hotter and hotter and they will boil to death. I know this is not a pretty image and I do not recommend that you do this experiment. The point is how many of us behave in that same manner where we know that the temperature keeps getting turned up but we stay in the boiling stress? When it is meant to tell us, something is off. Something needs to change and fast. The stress is pushing you to change. Or it could be pulling you away from what you’re doing because its unhealthy. So, when we see stress it can be an opportunity knocking at the door. The question is will you answer the door?

When you are in financial stress, stress is saying what you’re doing this isn’t working. You can look at things like, do you have a budget you create and use? Are you getting better educated to get promoted or go into another line of work that’s more fulfilling? Can you reduce your expenditures if you can’t increase your income or your revenue?

If you’re in a business, do you have measurements that tell you are you selling to the right audience? Are you attractive to your audience? Does your product or service appeal to buyers? Stress is usually a factor just before anger, and anger happens when we don’t know how to handle the situation or don’t know what else to do. Often, if we experience stress and we stay in the stress, it’s because we don’t know how to handle that situation or don’t know what else to do.

The truth is that stress, it’s simply like a caution light when you’re driving and it’s trying to get your attention. You don’t have to necessarily say, ‘oh my gosh I’m under stress and it’s going to kill me’, and over react to it. Look for the flashing yellow caution lights and simply pay attention and follow the signs. There is an upside to stress, perhaps people are just misusing the word stress, and don’t understand what stress is.

Often what’s missing when we experience stress is that people don’t use lead and lag indicators which can be very useful. Let’s say you’re looking at a map and need to know where you are and where you’re going? You need to have a critical part of a map or the whole thing is useless. The third part we also need is a scale of measurement.

According to Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington in, The 12 Week Year, “Effective measurement captures both lead and lag indicators that provide comprehensive feedback necessary for informed decision making. Lag indicators — things like income, sales, commission dollars, pounds lost, body fat percentage, overall cholesterol levels — represent the end results that you are striving to achieve. Lead indicators are the activities that produce the end results — for instance the number of sales calls, or referrals are lead indicators in the sales process. While most companies and individuals effectively measure lag indicators, many tend to disregard lead indicators. An effective measurement system will have a combination of complementary lead and lag indicators.”

You need to measure where you are vs. where you want to go so you understand how much of a gap there is or what’s the distance? Without a measurement then we have no ability to determine what’s the most efficient route to get there. This creates a state of stress.

For example, do I want to walk? Take a bike? Drive a vehicle? Fly a plane? Well each has its own cost factor of time and money, and we must be aware of their impact on our ability to get there. Sure, we want to take a private jet, but we may not have the financial means to make that a reality.

Stress then occurs when we have an idea in our heads of how something should play out and then life begins to unfold different than our plans.

So, stress is when we desire something or don’t desire something, we desire either finding comfort and pleasure or avoiding pain and danger.

Here’s an important piece of stress you want to pay attention too. One of the big upsides to stress is knowing if there’s real danger, understand that stress is there to serve us as a survival skill. If there’s real danger, we must immediately change our strategy before we worry about an empowering story. So often I hear people say, oh you just got to will your way out of it and be positive. But if there’s real danger, being positive is still going to get you eaten by an alligator. Alternatively, if that stress is caused by F.E.A.R. which is a False Emotion Appearing Real, then we need to question the fear and determine if it is being created by a story we are telling ourselves or someone is feeding to us. Our strategy may be sound but our story is beating ourselves in the head the entire time. Make sense?

How about when our life is going good and we are comfortable? Comfort is a great place to visit, but you don’t want to live there. Comfort long term creates more stress and a state of non-action. Of course, we love comfort, but as we have improved our lives and eliminated a lot of the natural challenges life used to bring in terms of difficulty, when we become comfortable too long we can get obese, become dependent on others and society, and our health declines, but mostly we begin losing our drive for a purpose in life. You move from comfort to complacent. When that happens, stress pop’s it ugly little head up again to tell you to get back in gear.

The final part of stress is whether you are living in the present moment, too far in the future, or too far in the past. If you cannot live in the present moment then that often creates stress. Stress, doesn’t occur when we are living in the present moment! When we are present, we may easily change our strategy, become adaptive, become resourceful and shift rapidly. And so, the final piece of the upside to stress is how resourceful are you? How clear are you in what you desire? Is your mantra, I want more money… well fine, if I give you $1 would you be happy, or was that not exactly what you were looking for? Getting very clear on what our goal or desire is will lessen the real stress of not reaching somewhere you don’t know you want to be.

If you want your boss and/or clients to respect you, what does respect look like? What are the characteristics? If you want passion or an extraordinary relationship with somebody, what are the characteristics? So often we sit down and leave it to somebody to just fall in our lap, then after the break up, you become all stressed out wondering what happened. Think about what you were looking for, but instead, settled for. You must sit down to ask yourself what are the critical and important must-haves in that person’s character? And their behavior? That’s generally what causes stress in a relationship when you realize the other person does not have your own core values. As the stress comes up its that red flag for you to pay attention and do something.

Here is a short list of the Upside of Stress

1. It pushes you to be the best you can be.
2. It pushes you to ask for what you want or need.
3. It pulls you out of bad relationships.
4. It warns you when you’re in danger.
5. It cautions you when you should be working in another direction or are off track.
6. It’s a signal that something you’re doing is not going to work out so stop and reassess.
7. If your partner, clients, or boss is stressed out, see what you can do to assist them.
8. It’s your bodies way of warning you that something is wrong, so pay attention.

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