Handling stress doesn’t happen like in those self-help books. It’s easy to say “don’t worry, things will go okay” when you are NOT feeling stress. It’s very easy to say that, but how can we really handle stress when we feel it?
Keeping the stress away (with a magical armor)
First I must admit that I’ve never been good at dealing with stress. If I feel stressful, I get anxious. The good news (kind of) have been that I’m good at avoiding stress. All my life I think I’ve arranged my stuff so that I simply haven’t felt stress. This might sound bit odd, but there’s a difference: I have managed to keep the stress away. I’m not working well under stress simply because I haven’t allowed myself to stress.
Here’s a simple analogy which hopefully clarifies what I mean to say: If we would live in medieval times, I would wear a magical heavy-metal armor that simply won’t let me take damage. I’ve managed to find a good blacksmith and a wizard who make sure that I don’t need to deal with the stress – the armor takes care of it. But, sometimes (very rare) my armor has been taken away, and then I’m helpless. (Simplified example, but hopefully you get the point.)
So, I got car (dragons are attacking me!)
I’ve never been a car person. My knowledge about cars has been in such level that when somebody asked what kind of car we had I replied “dirt white”. I’ve never getting euphoric to hear how fast some car goes (I’d just rather stay home… or go for a walk you know).
I’m telling this, because I’d never had imagine that I would be showing a picture of our new car. I bought this after getting tired to use the rope to get our old car’s doors shut.
(There it is, the red car in the pic)
It’s a second hand car, so in English that means: possible stressful ahead.
Dealing with the stress (watching the dragon in the eyes)
I had conditioned myself to expect some repairs, so I had realistic expectations I think. I spotted couple of problems with the car already and started worrying how things would go. I called the car shop and they said that they will naturally deal with the problems free of charge (won’t go into specifics on that).
I still felt bit anxious and I started thinking about my current way of dealing with stress. Now I spotted that I had been wearing magical armor. I started thinking that this stress is a good thing. I told to my brain that this is good practice. I started thinking that now I’m finally getting practice in handling (and not take cover behind a magical armor so to speak) the stress. There’s external element that’s putting pressure on me, and instead of trying to “fix things quickly by dealing with the car shop” I’m telling myself to stop avoiding and start blocking. I simply refuse to feel anxious. I know that when buying a car, all kinds of stuff can happen but I’m going to bear it.
Somehow I feel (almost the first time in my life if I recall) that I’m not trying to make the source of stress go away (“fix the car fast”).
I’m letting myself to deal with the pressure. I’m not waiting for the car shop to “rescue me from my stress”. I’m taking away my magical armor – nobody will help me now. I’m dealing with the situation. I’m watching the dragon straight in the eyes, and there’s nothing between us. Nothing to help me.
You know what happened?
The dragon turned his head and went away…