Did you know we each have a “favourite” stress response? The expression of stress is unique to each of us, and to the situation we are in, but we have a “go to” stress expression when the inevitable peace shattering, *stuff* hitting-the-fan event happens. We either express anger, shame or anxiety; sometimes just one and sometimes all three in a “merry-go-round” from hell. Which of the three we typically start with when overwhelmed by emotions is an expression of our core belief. “Core Beliefs are deep-seated perceptions that everyone has about the world in which we live, work and play. Core Beliefs impact how we think, feel and behave as well as how we interact with other people and our general view of the world.” (Peter Barow, Core Beliefs). Each of us use our core beliefs to make decisions, they are useful in helping us navigate the world. However, a core belief is ever-present so its there “helping” you navigate when you are stressed too.
In these descriptions we can feel our instinctual reactions to stress, disappointment, etc. What’s important to remember here is while we may not always like it, being emotional isn’t a bad thing; we are emotional when we are excited about something, or when we feel tears of joy. Your instinctual stress response appears when your behaviour surrenders to the pressure you are under, and so begins the “merry-go-round”. While one of these responses is your “go to”, you can easily move into all three; you forgot a deadline at work (shame), someone was less-than professional about calling you out on it (anger) and now you are worried everyone thinks this way of you (anxiety). Merry-go-round from hell. Round and round the feelings go, and when it stops nobody knows. The longer you stay on it, the more entrenched the overwhelming feelings get, the more frequently they come visit you, the faster the merry-go-round spins keeping you on it longer each time…and you ask yourself things like ”Why is this happening to me!!!!”
You do control how long you are on that merry-go-round, and this can be accomplished with just a few simple but intentional actions. First, get familiar with identifying when you are on the merry-go-round and (when you are there), rather than asking yourself “Why is this happening to me?” ask yourself “What is this trying to teach me?” The act of re-framing what is happening stops the carousel of chaos, letting you off to begin a much better journey, one filled with curiosity and self-compassion.
(The three stress responses is based on the work of Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Triadic Self, page 49 – 59)
“Failure has always been a part of the plan. Without it, we don’t grow.” ~ Carleen Hicks
Photo credit: Ben White on Unsplash