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The Stress of “Balloon Syndrome”

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There are big stressors in your life and little ones, and it doesn’t matter which of them “should” be big or little, the only thing that matters is how they affect YOU. The important question, really, is whether you do anything with the stress.

This is important because if you let it build up, eventually something in your head is going to break. If that happens who knows how it will come out?

There are extreme examples all around us in the news every day. (If you follow my advice then you don’t listen to the news much (!) so I guess I’ll have to tell you about it…) People let the stress in their lives build to the point that they suddenly snap and go on a killing rampage or crime spree. In fact, there is a new generally-accepted term in the English language for it: “going postal” which comes from the spate of postal workers who went crazy from stress and started shooting their co-workers.

There is even a TV series called “Snapped.” Each episode is a detailed description of someone who couldn’t take it any more. I saw one where a woman was upset and driving fast and erratically. When she approached a red light, she ACCELERATED to 90 mph or so and rear-ended a car that was waiting for that light, killing three poor souls that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I call this the “balloon syndrome” because it is like filling a balloon with air – if you don’t stop occasionally to let some of the air out the balloon will continue to expand until it reaches its limit, and then it pops.

It happened to me, too, with almost-dire consequences. On the road for a speaking engagement, I went to a suspenseful movie. As the tension of the story mounted, two young men behind me were laughing and making a heckava lot of noise. It was irritating, even more so because of the tension in the movie. My big mistake was that I didn’t say anything until I “popped” and yelled at them, literally, to “shut the (expletive deleted) up!” (I’ll have you know that several people in the theater applauded me!)

When the movie was over, those young men were angry and started following me out of the theater; I was afraid for my safety.

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