I’m a realist. I want to help you reduce your stress and I also know that there are plenty of stressful situations over which we have no control; that’s part of the reason that they are as stressful as they are. We can, however, acquire skills to deal with them.
Another way to reduce stress, though, is to avoid it in the first place. I recently had an experience with a friend that perfectly illustrates one of the ways that we put stress on ourselves.
A friend told me that her brother, who lives about 400 miles from her, was hosting Thanksgiving for the family. She adores her brother and his wife, and their daughter and her husband. But… her sister-in-law’s brother is another story. He redefines the term “boring.” He sits around like a slug, doesn’t say or do much except fiddle with his computer and cell phone, and is generally unpleasant to be around. It’s not that he is mean or loud or dangerous or obnoxious, he just casts a pall in whatever room he’s in. (He IS the elephant in the room!)
She told me that, because of him, she wasn’t going to make the trip. She said, “Would you drive 400 miles to see that blob?”
I was stunned. I told her, “I don’t look at it that way. I WOULD drive 400 miles to see all of the others, and I would CHOOSE to ignore the blob.”
This is a classic example of letting one bad apple spoil the entire barrel. Are you guilty of this?
Why is it important? It’s important because it’s stressful to put yourself in a position where you feel pressured to miss a lot of pleasure to avoid a little pain.
Another example. I was lucky enough to visit the Sphinx in Egypt in 1980. It’s huge and mighty impressive. There was a speck of something way down in a crevasse; I checked it out with my binoculars and guess what it was… a box from Kentucky Fried Chicken! Would you pass up an opportunity to see such a magnificent monument because there might be something like that to look at?
I hope not!
If you find yourself tempted to make a bad choice like this, remember to CHOOSE to ignore the bad parts so that you CAN enjoy the good parts.
…and you’ll stop some stress before it even starts!