It may sound hard to believe, but experts say that your personality can actually cause you stress. They say, to a certain extent, your personality may have been determined at birth. I think you and your personality has been growing and developing over eons of incarnations. As I hold this truth, I must say there are certain characteristics that you may have developed over the years that are now contributing to your stress level. While you cannot change your personality (or knee jerk tendencies) overnight, it is certainly possible to change certain habits that may now be causing you stress.
To begin with, you can acknowledge and assess the strength of your inner critic. Everyone, even the most positive of people, has that little nagging critical voice. It’s normal and only a problem when it takes over the majority of your thinking.
Do you feel as if you are inferior to other people? Do you constantly berate yourself for your faults? Do you consider yourself to be a product of your mistakes? Give these questions some thought. Many times that inner voice has been with us for so long that we don’t even hear it anymore, but the effects of its ‘white background noise’ can be detrimental.
There is evidence to suggest that a strong inner critic can lead to low self esteem and stressful situations. When the balance of that voice shifts towards the negative, you put stress on yourself unnecessarily. Therefore, what you need to do is to begin to enhance your self-esteem and positive self talk. This begins by “Silencing the Inner Critic” that negative chatter that goes on inside your head. There are several techniques I use with clients to support this endeavor. Here are 2 games to play as you begin this journey.
- The What If Up game: When ever you catch yourself in that downward spiral of what if’s instead of focusing on the worst that can happen, begin to tell yourself the story of the best possible outcome. Make it fun and embellish with extravagance! You might be amazed to discover just how much fun this can be. Whenever you feel the urge to go down the worrisome and self critical spiral, think of the most positive and elaborate version that you could be. This will help end the litany of your failures, worries, and shortcomings which you may be repeating to yourself.
- The Bracelet game: This game can be played with a bracelet, a hair tie or anything that can quickly and easily be removed from your wrist. To play the game, you will simply pay attention to the thoughts in your head. When you discover that you are engaging in negative self talk you will take a breath, switch the bracelet from one wrist to the other and say to yourself “Now I choose to think this” (insert a positive affirmation). You may not give it anymore thought than that. Challenge yourself to refrain from following the thought any further. Simply breathe and choose a new thought. See how long you can keep the bracelet on one wrist before switching it over!
Stress can also be the result of being overburdened. Do you take on too much? Are you dealing with too much responsibility? Similar to the inner critic, when we’ve held burdens for so long we tend to normalize the stressor; rather than removing it we add more to the pile.
There are certain responsibilities at home, at work, and at school that we must carry, at times we may be overextending ourselves. Take the time to list your major responsibilities and see if there is a way for you to whittle down the list. You might be surprised to learn just how much you have taken on. With a little bit of planning, you may be able to shift some of your responsibilities to other members of your household or to your co-workers. Be sure to talk with your mate and your boss if your stress level seems out of control. Together, you can work on strategies to reduce the amount of stress you feel.
Let’s face it. Some of us are control freaks. (Me! I’m raising my hand) We feel as if we need to control every detail within our line of sight. If you fall into this category, you may be experiencing stress because of your controlling nature. You may also find that this weakness is negatively impacting your personal life, causing you to feel additional stress in your relationships. In order to combat this tendency, try practicing Faith and building Trust in yourself. Believing that there is a higher power guiding you, recognize the prompts, and take responsive actions will build trust in yourself to know you are safe and taken care of. There are certain things that are simply beyond your control. Having an internal ‘knowing’ that whatever happens you will be okay, that you will support yourself through it, can open your heart, allowing you to surrender control and lessen the burden of stress.
Another prime cause of stress is fear, especially fear of the unknown. (which is very much a part of the above mentioned controlling nature) You may be fearful of making mistakes or of being judged harshly. One way to counteract this, is to understand that everyone makes mistakes—even those you idolize! Learn to forgive yourself for your faults—otherwise, you will be putting yourself under a tremendous amount of stress. Something I tell clients often is “You’re doing the best you can with where you are and what you know.” Try not to agonize over every little thing. (instead, play one of the games above) In addition, learn to get over the guilt/shame of not being perfect. It is not only a waste of your precious time and energy is can make your stress level consistently hit the roof. One thing I tell myself, especially when I’m trying new things is “Rebecca you did a great job with that, or you handled that situation very well”….This is followed up by saying “and next time you will do even better!”
Recognizing what IS, is step one, I call it Coming Home. This article has given you many things to ponder. Once you know what you need to work on, you’ll be in a better position to reduce your stress and increase joy in your life. You didn’t get here over night, so be gentle with the process, it may take some time to eliminate old habits and conditioned thinking. In other words, don’t expect to radically change all your behaviors or mentality in a week. However, with the proper amount of diligence, (and support) you can alter those aspects of your life that are causing you stress. Once you increase the positivity and release the rest, you will feel more energetic, less stressed, and better able to take on the world. And you may just find your blood pressure decreasing as well!
If you’d like to learn more about your stress load and how to eliminate it sign up for my free “From Stressed to Blessed” assessment and consult here. In this 20 min virtual assessment you will discover just how heavy your burden is and light it could be with a few adjustments