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Emotional stress

5 ways you trick yourself into prolonging emotional stress

Wednesday, March 06, 2013 by: Mike Bundrant
Tags: emotional stress, tricks, coping mechanisms

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(NaturalNews) Most people are surprised to learn that their favorite coping mechanism for stress actually causes more problems than it solves. Let's look at five steps to effectively dealing with stress and five reactions to stress that trick you into prolonging it.

Imagine something simple that might cause emotional stress, such as coming home to find that your husband has ignored his promise to clean the house and is self-absorbed in his favorite hobby.

To deal with this situation effectively, you can 1) take notice of how you feel and 2) make sure your feelings are valid. Then, 3) express your feelings assertively, 4) clear up any misunderstandings, 5) create new expectations and a plan. Then, you can let the stress go, feeling like you have dealt with the situation.

This isn't always easy, but if you do it consistently, you'll find yourself able to let go of emotional stress more readily. In fact, I don't know anyone who does the above consistently that is chronically stressed in the area of concern.

The problem is, we don't do the above five things.

Worse, typical ways of reacting to stressful situations actually encourage hanging onto and expanding the stress. It's as if some part of you does not want to let it go, but indulge in the emotional fallout.

Why on earth would you hang on to emotional stress? The gist of it is that it maintains the status quo. At some point in life, probably before you can remember, you grew accustomed to a certain brand of emotional pain and your mind assimilated it as part of the deal. You developed a tolerance for it and perhaps even developed an identity around suffering.

Now, if you have not consciously come to terms with it, you trick yourself in to hanging on to the status quo. In fact, some people do not know who they'd be without their particular brand of emotional angst. The solution is to see the truth - that typical coping mechanisms for stress are actually a means to unwittingly prolong the agony.

Once you see how you trick yourself, you can stop doing it.

Here are five ways you trick yourself into hanging onto emotional pain.

So, you've walked in the door to a messy house and a self-absorbed, hobby-obsessed spouse. Here we go:

1. Outright denial. A sure way to keep your stress festering is to deny its existence. Just pretend you don't notice the messy house. When he asks how you're doing, tell him, "Oh, just fine." Make nice and completely bury your feelings. Hopefully you will forget all about it.

But you won't. It will eat at you. It will fester. It will turn into resentment that will pop out unexpectedly and create more stress. You have tricked yourself into carrying this one and adding it to the pile of other stressors you have denied.

2. Refusing to express. Ok, you have acknowledged to yourself that the messy house is a problem, but you won't speak up. You tell yourself that you shouldn't have to say anything or that he wouldn't care anyway. So, you mope around. When he asks what is wrong, you tell him, "Nothing."

"Ok, whatever," he says and returns to his silly hobby. You are still stuck in stress and now it is building.

3. The freak out. In this case, you swing the other way and let your emotions rip. You are righteously indignant, beside yourself in a rage and in his face.

This encourages him to get defend himself, accuse you of being insane and pretend he is no longer obligated to do anything for such a lunatic. Does this alleviate your stress or just invite more?

4. Making excuses. "He's been so busy lately. I don't blame him for ignoring the house. Besides, his boss is overbearing and I don't need to be adding to it. He's been wanting to do his hobby all week, so who am I to ruin it?"

Letting him off the hook by making excuses for him may help avoid a conflict, but won't ease your stress. The house is still a mess. He is still ignoring the problem. You've made excuses for him, so he is no longer obligated in your (conscious) mind. Now, you've just added the burden of cleaning the house to your list. Are you less stressed now, or more?

5. Sugar-coating. Mary Poppins sang, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down," but I don't think stress was the medicine she had in mind.

Just the same, sugar coating emotional stress makes it more tolerable. Believe it or not, human beings (including you) are masters at it. How could you sugar coat your husband's negligence?

Oh, the house is not that messy. It will just take me a little while to spruce up.

Look at him, so cute out there doing his little hobby. He's so sweet.

Well, I guess I just have to keep a positive attitude here, take charge and clean up this mess!

You've just made your stress tolerable, instead of dealing with it, like sugar-coating small doses of cyanide - it's easier to swallow that way.

If you catch yourself doing any of the above, ask yourself if it will really help to resolve your stress, or encourage you to hang on to stress. When you realize you are setting yourself up for more stress again and again, you may begin to see it as simple self-sabotage.

About the author:
Watch the free video The AHA! Process: An End to Self-Sabotage and discover the lost keys to personal transformation and emotional well-being that have been suppressed by mainstream mental health for decades.

The information in this video has been called the missing link in mental health and personal development. In a world full of shallow, quick-fix techniques, second rate psychology and pharmaceutical takeovers, real solutions have become nearly impossible to find. Click here to watch the presentation that will turn your world upside down.

Mike Bundrant is co-founder of the iNLP Center and host of Mental Health Exposed, a Natural News Radio program.

Follow Mike on Facebook for daily personal development tips.

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