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How do you deal with Change and Stress?

Why Is It So Difficult To Change the Behaviour of Others?


We all find it difficult to change our behaviour, especially when we have gotten into a pattern of doing things. This is because our behaviour is controlled by perception and the most crucial aspect of perception is that it is entirely governed by our thoughts. It means our subconscious mind is the key to formulating our perception.

The subconscious a kind of slave which blindly obeys every command of the conscious mind because it cannot tell the difference between a real and an imagined experience. That is why, for example, we can easily get ourselves into an emotionally anxious state by thinking negative thoughts, by dwelling on bad experiences and telling ourselves how awful we are or how terrible the world is. Yet nothing else might be happening at that particular time than a rehash of past experiences.

A guy I know in Jamaica is a virtual prisoner in his own home because he is affected by the increasing crime rate he hears about and sees only negative events around him. He hardly goes anywhere locally or mixes with people, which keeps him isolated and suspicious, making his environment appear even more negative and frightening. Instead, he keeps going back and forth from one country to another to make himself feel better, believing the problem is external when it is primarily inside his head.

Thus, our subconscious mind develops such negative perceptions, makes them "real" to us, and we begin to believe their reality. What's more, we tend to place ourselves in situations and environments that confirm these realities and "truths" as we see them; seeking people who think, dress, behave and perceive the same way we do in order to confirm our perception. We are likely to feel distinctly uncomfortable and distrustful of those whom we perceive to have different realities to our own. That is the main reason why it is so difficult to convince someone of low esteem and negative perception that things might actually be different from how they view it. Until they share our perception, perhaps through perceived benefits, they will remain in their own created reality.

Seeking "Truth" Among Like Minded People

The far right parties like the BNP who promote racism are a case in point. As members are likely to stick to other members who perceive and believe in the same way, they will reject the perception of others that do not match their own. Since they have filtered out stimuli which flies in the face of their own reasoning, it is difficult to influence their narrow view of the world. The only thing that might change them is having to mix with others who are different, for example in the workplace, or if their livelihood depended upon them having another perspective.

That is also why conflict among partners in the home remains entrenched for ages. It is really most difficult to change personal perception, especially when someone does not want to see an alternative way of thinking, or to believe otherwise, because to do so would make them feel insecure and vulnerable. They would also lose face, have their firmly-held beliefs debunked or be deprived of the justification they need for reacting or behaving so negatively.

The one thing to recognise beyond a doubt is that perception is our reality. It is not a false way of seeing the world but the only viewpoint we have. If someone perceives him/herselfto be a victim of a particular situation, it is their truth and must be accepted as such, and also addressed, until there is evidence to prove otherwise. There is nothing wrong with perception except its appropriateness. Not sharing any other person's reality, we cannot tell someone else how to think by using our own yardstick of to deny their experience.

We can only offer our own perception of a situation and agree on a compromise, unless the other person is persuaded to ignore their perception and accept ours instead, or there is firm evidence to the contrary.

Three important things about CHANGE many people do not know


We use the word CHANGE quite easily. We know it affects us to different degrees. We often fear it more than we welcome it and we reluctantly accept that it is a pervasive and continuous force in our lives. However, most of us don't really understand change and why it affects us the way it does, so we can never appreciate how we could deal with it or what it really means for us. But once we understand change and its consequences, it becomes easier to accommodate.

Basically, there are three types of change:

A. Gradual Change (peripheral):
This kind of change tends to happen around us, rather than to us. There is very little fear around it because it is routine, imperceptible most times, and a natural part of our existence. Gradual change is anything which changes naturally, like deciding to buy a new dress or suit instead of wearing the old one; changing the toaster because it no longer works; choosing to try a new route to enjoy the scenery instead of the one we are familiar with; engaging a stranger at a networking event instead of just talking to the people we know. That kind of change is manageable, controlled, welcomed and consistent. In fact, every single day of our lives we will have some kind of gradual change that is non-threatening. We accept such predictable change with equanimity. If we were to judge this change in a kind of numerical ratio we would say that we lose about 20% of what we have but we hold fast to 80% of our life because we can easily handle that change and it is mainly about replacement rather than loss, making it comfortable to deal with, even if it is a little inconvenient at times.

B. Dramatic Change (physical):
This kind is very threatening and is often lethal. It is always unexpected, caused mainly by Nature, it is very traumatic and is primarily about displacement. Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami and the recent Italian earthquake are prime examples of dramatic physical change. We are likely to lose up to 95% of what we possess in such traumatic situations. The five percent relates to our habits. We never lose those as we are likely to replicate them elsewhere in a new life. But many times we only end up with ourselves intact. We then rebuild and a few years down the line we will have another similar life, though we might look back wistfully on the old one. However, we always rebuild because it is in our nature to cope with such changes. Dramatic change affects us emotionally too but in a positive way which reinforces our strength and belief in ourselves because we are always grateful to be alive in the aftermath of it. Recovery is likely to lead to greater things, even innovation, so that we always learn something from it too. This kind of change focuses our mind on the fragility of our existence but also reinforces our resilience in managing our world regardless of adversity

Emotional Change
C. Dramatic Change (emotional): This kind of change damages us for the longest period. It has two parts and always relates to another person, especially break-ups and deaths in relationships. In emotional change you immediately lose 50% of whatever you had. Some people try to recreate it by expecting the new home, new wife, new husband or new partner to function in the same way they are used to, or they pretend that their partner isn't really gone and live in denial. They usually come unstuck in the end because they have to rebuild to exist but they often find it difficult to rebuild because the change has taken an intense toll on their emotions.

Emotional change, if self-initiated, is easier to manage, because the one desiring the change has greater control in the ultimate action. His/Her emotions will be in turmoil but not as affected as the person who has to agree to the change yet does not desire it (like in tragic cases of unexpected widowhood). That is where bitterness and resentment come into the equation which then makes the change doubly difficult to bear. This kind of dramatic change is the worst kind because emotions take longer to heal than physical hurt.

One can easily build a house or a nest with someone but it takes much more motivation and encouragement to build harmony, love and a genuine relationship with a stranger. There is a lot of investment in it and when it crashes, it takes much more than just physical displacement. It affects self-esteem, self belief, self confidence and self worth, all attributes that are essential to every-day living. It also affects our view of the future, often making it more pessimistic, but, most of all, it affects trust which takes ages to rebuild with another partner.

Confusion and Bewilderment
When people are exposed to dramatic emotional change, they are likely to feel at sea for some time. They have lost 50% of what they know, another 30% would have changed a lot, becoming useless in their new situation, and less than 20% of their former life will stay the same to give them some comfort. That is why life will become more difficult until they move on to something new, perhaps another love or positive event, which reinforces their feelings of worthiness and value. With change caused by death, that is the most difficult thing to do because a feeling of pain and guilt can cause grief to go on far too long and become overwhelming.

Such emotional change becomes difficult to deal with because of one main element: people don't realise just how much they have lost of themselves. They believe after a break-up or loss that they are equipped to go forward as normal, but emotional resources take time to rebuild. Worse still, they might try to resist that change and carry the old perspectives, expectations and behaviour over to a new relationship which simply gives them more of the same further down the line.

Change is always inevitable and unpredictable so the best way to cope with it is to accept change readily. DON'T fight it. Allow a short time to grieve and allow yourself to rebuild at your pace while gradually laying the foundations for a new and even more exciting life. The minute we try to fight it and constantly complain about it we simply drag out the pain and hurt indefinitely. However, if we allow it to take its course, while grieving appropriately, we not only fully recover from it in due course, but we are also likely to gain from it too in some small unexpected way.

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How we Instinctively React to Change


During 1967-1970 a virtual conflagration, in the form of the most heated debate ever, raged uncontrollably across Britain concerning the need for a long distance study centre, a university of the air. It was a time for petty prejudices to push themselves to the surface as the pros and cons struggled for supremacy in the war of words which developed, particularly among the privileged, well-educated, middle class elite.

Its purpose and value were minutely dissected on one hand by the enthusiastic visionaries who saw it as the new saviour of the masses, especially those who had been unable to take advantage of full time higher education. The academic champions, on the other hand, most of them armed with the benefits of an Oxbridge education, went almost ballistic at the thought of a university which would be welcoming people without any prior qualifications. The idea was too preposterous to contemplate, as snobbishness ran rampant. They were absolutely certain it would not only lower the standard of degrees to unacceptable levels, but the thought of so many thousands of formerly unqualified people actually ending up with degrees was more than any 'properly' educated man could stomach.

Watching uncertainly from the middle of this debate, and listening intently, were the future students if this educational utopia, like me. With inadequate GCEs, a one year old son and a part-time job, the Open University seemed so right, manna from heaven, in fact, and I hesitantly became its first Black graduate. I knew there was no way my current qualifications would have gotten me into Oxford or Cambridge and the thought of studying at home for a degree, with all my domestic responsibilities, was too unreal to consider. Initially, I sided with the doubters. It would never work, I told myself often, too scared to believe it and the possibilities. Too good to be true, I thought. But I wanted it to succeed so badly, the dramatic change in my family life (and great personal sacrifice which would ensue) seemed so insignificant then. By registration day, my doubts had largely evaporated. I was now certain it would work and willed it with all my heart.

Many others, particularly with the power to affect the OU's development, did not have our belief in its success and did not want to be convinced either. Feeling comfortable with their narrow experience of what a 'real' university should be, they felt threatened by the OU's revolutionary concepts of a veritable free-for-all and closed their eyes to its advantages, preferring to concentrate on all the negative aspects, the bits they were sure would go wrong.

Academic Success

Perhaps because of such widespread scepticism, Britain's first university of the air set out to prove them wrong with great tenacity and skill. Starting off in an almost low-key, conformist way, it has been revolutionary in its impact. Rapidly approaching it's 38th birthday, and unmatched in research, new initiatives and ideas, the Open University occupies a unique place in British history. It has unremittingly changed the face of higher education, not only in Britain, but worldwide, with its byword of 'credits' and flexibility of study having become an integral part of the education language. Over 350,000 graduates have already passed through its doors. It's academic success, particularly in education and research, and the way it has dramatically changed people's lives, perceptions and achievements, have been phenomenal, not least for one of its graduates - me. Through it, I finally did get into Cambridge University. Not a bad feat for someone with hardly any qualifications.

This story springs readily to mind on the eve of its anniversary and in the face of our general unwillingness to step into the unknown and embrace change. New initiatives tend to bring out the worst fears for our future, and the worst reaction, making us needlessly defensive of our territory while firing our natural instinct to protect the status quo at all cost.

It seems that accepting any form of change depends primarily on the personal perception of our individual situation; our vision of how we could be affected by something new; our degree of readiness for a different experience; how much we perceive we have to lose and our level of confidence in dealing with the unexpected. Having no vision means we can only see through a narrow tube of familiarity which usually gives us just a tiny part of the whole picture. This keeps us firmly where we are, without letting in any more light, while detaching us gradually from both reality and the action. In this way we continue to have a distorted, jaundiced view of the potential effects of anything new in our environment and to the detriment of our development.

For instance, if you were to play blind and deaf from today and move to an uninhabited island, you would learn nothing else about the world you left behind, you would meet no one else and probably do nothing more than the basics. Ten years from now, you may be an expert on plant life, or on how to survive on very little, but you would be technologically ignorant and trapped in a time warp while the world would have moved on at a cracking pace. There are many of us like that in life who miss out on new developments, and benefits which are rightfully ours, because we lack the courage to overcome one main confidence killer: a preoccupation with the past.

How do you cope with change? Which group do you belong to?


We are being deluged by technological changes each day which many older people are finding increasingly problematical. Changes are always difficult to cope with because they threaten our usual routine, they take us out of our comfort zones and they make us feel vulnerable and insecure until we get used to them again.

However, not everyone cope with those changes in the same way. Some have a better predisposition and readiness for change than others do. As a rule, the happier and more contented we are in our lives, the more we will welcome change, while the more unhappy, low in esteem and isolated we feel, the more we will fear that change.

Breaking down the change reactions on a simpler level, in any society, about 20% of people will be very confident, capable and loving their world, no matter what it throws at them. Usually positive people, they regard life as one to be enjoyed and utilised. They see themselves as victors, doers and enablers, tending to be innovators and entrepreneurs. Another 30% will be a little unsure about things, but willing to learn, so life will be fine for them. They tend to be cautious at first about trying new things, and prefer to go at their own pace, but usually get the hang of it in their own time.

However, 30% will feel rather scared and unable to cope with the changes that they usually resent. They tend to see themselves as victims being harmed by those changes, and prefer to find scapegoats to blame for them. They are usually unhappy with their life because they tend to believe that they are suffering more than most in their particular situation and that the change will make their life even worse. It is very difficult to convince them otherwise because of their lack of confidence and self belief.

Finally, 20% will live in the past, will talk about how wonderful the good old days were, will derogate everything that is modern and shut themselves off from many innovations, or the opportunities to learn. They usually end up in a world of their own, fossilised in a bygone age, clinging to old knowledge and imposing their views on others, as life quietly rushes past them.

How we react to change is the biggest indicator of the quality of our life. If we are back there resisting changes, we will find it hard to adjust to our world, we will lose both knowledge and help in the process and, worst still, we will find it difficult to simply progress confidently and efficiently in our life.

Why some people have difficulty dealing with change


It has been interesting to see the numerous comments about the massive effect of the Internet about the music industry, especially the negative way it is supposed to be affecting production companies and artists, etc. That kind of anxiety is understandable, especially when the old order is going to be replaced by the new, but the fear appears to be a product of massive change in the face of strong resistance to protect territories and traditions. However, the Internet is no different from any revolutionary change. We tend to react in definite stages to anything that affects our lives in a big way.

All change brings a predictable cycle of reaction over eight stages:

First there is FEAR and uncertainty,

then CHALLENGE to the status quo,

followed by guarded CURIOSITY, while excuses are made to discredit the change,



followed by ACCEPTANCE

then COMFORT with the change

and finally CUSTOMISING it to suit our individual needs.

Members of the population will be at different levels of this change process, depending on their relevance to it, their desire to embrace it, their expertise in it and past experience around it. If you are into computers, big time, you would already be at the 'customising' stage, while older people who might be feeling frightened and threatened would be at the 'fear' or 'challenging stage', wishing for the good old days while pointing out only the bad things available on the Internet. They are likely to use it sparingly, to be wary of it and see only the spam and the porn, hardly anything of merit, while computer geeks will see mainly the possibilities and potential, they will virtually live on it and change the quality of our lives with it!

One could say that we are generally in the experimental stage of the Internet. Not much is making sense to the masses but it sure feels exciting to try it. For example, more than 8 million UK members use the Internet for dating, but a lot wouldn't do it because they still cannot envisage finding a partner online, and the public exposure that entails. Yet the old face-to-face personal ways of seeking a spouse are rapidly diminishing. Women, in particular, appreciate the opportunity of finding a partner from the comfort of their home in relative privacy and security.

Growth of the Internet
The Internet is unstoppable now. Give it a few more years and we will be racing towards the ACCEPTANCE and COMFORT levels, doing fantastic things with it, with most of the fear behind us. By then the record producers and all those people who are currently 'losing out' would have thought of ways not only to work it to their advantage, but also to customise it to suit their objectives. Soon they'll regroup with greater knowledge of what they are dealing with and then heaven help us as everyone tries to make sure they have maximum benefit from it. Five or ten years from now, the Internet will seem such a seamless part of our lives we will be wondering what all the fuss was about. We would have forgotten all these debates about the merits and demerits of the most amazing creation in the world, the epitome of true global domination!

One thing is certain, already the Internet has given every human being with access to it a huge voice, and where people are being heard it is the greatest feeling of worth and significance. The 1984 take-off of Hillary Clinton is a great case in point. Though viewed by over two million people in its first week, it was created by an unknown person wanting to comment on the American election. Like every other revolution, the Internet has already stamped its own impact indelibly on our lives.

Hold on to your seats, folks, because you ain't see nothin' yet. There's an awful lot more to come.

I'm trying so hard to fix myself, but it's not working. Please help!


Q. I’m a 15 year old girl by the way. And yes I AM SELFISH, and yes I AM STUPID AND DUMB A LOT OF THE TIME, and yes I BECOME OVERLY OBSESSED WITH RANDOM GUYS WHO DON’T EVEN REMEMBER ME, and yes I HAVE SO MANY OTHER ISSUES AND PROBLEMS, and yes I FEEL LIKE SH** A LOT OF THE TIME. And yes I AM COMPLETELY BORED WITH MY STUPID BORING LIFE. I have so many flaws, and I am always nervous and uptight, and I am an extremely hard person to get along with, and I really hate myself and I am extremely insecure.

A. This is all so very sad, but you are chasing yourself in a circle for the following reasons:

1. You are aware of what is happening to you, but feel powerless to help it because you are looking in the wrong place for your answers. Whatever causes your low self esteem, lack of confidence and all these “flaws” you keep emphasising, lies inside yourself and your home. Nowhere else. Unless they are sorted there, you will be eternally searching for answers. Nobody outside can help you in this because it seems something fundamental is missing from your life which you crave but cannot find.

2. You cannot help yourself until you VALUE yourself. Read over your post again and just look at how you constantly put yourself down! All you can see are flaws, but no one person is all bad or all good. Even your good grades you dismiss as “that really means nothing to me”! If you paint yourself so badly every day of your life, no one would wish to value you and people would hate your company and would feel anxious around you because you seem to have NOTHING POSITIVE to say about yourself or to uplift them. Sooner or later, that totally negative attitude will just sink you further and keep people away from you. Start focusing on your STRENGTHS as well to get some balance in your life and to make yourself feel better.

No one likes losers, whingers and complainers simply because we ALL have bad moments in life. We have to take them in our stride and move on, not constantly dwell on them as if we are the only one with problems, which you seem to be doing.

You might be selfish, as you say, but your problem is that you are a little self absorbed because you are lacking value and attention in your life. Sadly, you will continue to feel terrible so long as you only keep seeing the “bad’ things about you while deliberately ignoring the good. You are a very intelligent girl, but what are you doing with that intelligence now, except to constantly complain?

The first thing to do when you get these negative moments, and feel like condemning yourself with bad names, is this: Say something like, “I might be selfish, but I helped someone with their shopping yesterday” OR “I might be stupid, but I am clever enough to get good grades”. In this way you start learning to counteract those negative thoughts with positive ones. Above all, you will slowly begin to appreciate yourself and raise your self esteem. But you will achieve nothing in that constant accusatory mode.

Life is a balance: of good and bad, pleasure and pain, up and down, give and take. You are very unhappy because you are living AGAINST that balance by constantly being negative about you, constantly taking emotionally from others instead of giving too. There seem to be no positive things in your life from your perspective. But what about all the blessings you have right now, like a good home, parents, and good grades?

One final question for you: Read your post slowly again. Pretend that someone else is saying those things about you to another person. Would you keep friends with that person? Would you really like them? So long as you sit there picking at your so called faults like a sore, as if you are the only person in the world with faults, no one at all can either help you or make you happy.

Sadly, this is what you said: “I really hate myself and I am extremely insecure”. How can anyone love what you hate? No one can help you to a “a better person” because that has to start with you. And as you seem intent on bashing yourself with negativity day after day, it would be very difficult for anyone to really do anything to change your situation It has to be up to you and it sounds like some counselling might be a first step. The website confidence-guide.com could also be of value.

Do I have anger management problems?


Q. Everyone tells me I have anger management problems, so here are a couple things I do when I'm mad. When I'm mad I throw things. If I know I'm right, but people keep telling me different. I will yell & scream till I get my point across & prove it. The LITTLEST things annoy me. For example (biting nails in front of me, making little noises, the way people chew/eat, if my room is messy, MUCH more). When someone tells me what to do, I start yelling at them. I will go off on someone like 20 years older than me if they don't respect me.  I cry when Im REALLY MAD . Which happens a lot. Im not a rude person, just get angry...easily !

A. Yes, it does sound as if you have anger management problems. But you get angry easily because you have issues of self confidence and low esteem. It sounds as if you have been very spoilt too being allowed to throw valuable things around because you do not appreciate the value of neither people nor things.

When we are confident and think highly of ourselves, we do not have to treat others badly to make our point, or shout and scream at them to take notice. They will usually take notice because they WANT to, not because they have to: but because they think you have something worthwhile to say and they value you enough to listen.

People who bully others into listening to them, or behaving as they expect, are telling a lot about how they see themselves. They have low regard for themselves so they feel everyone has to be punished for the way they feel.

Why do the littlest things annoy you? Why don't you allow people to be who they are? That's because you DON'T like yourself as you are. You don't like some of the things you do, so you project that self-loathing unto other people and constantly find fault with what they do to make yourself feel superior and better. But that only makes you come across as a nit picker and fault-finder. Not someone nice to be around. 

Only bullies and immature people throw things when they are mad, and are always fighting and screaming. Mature people use CONVERSATION and discussion to see the other person's point of view, or to agree to differ. Mature people do not impose their views on others, or expect people to behave like clones. They respect individuality because they too are individuals who require respect.

Ways or Earning Respect
And speaking of respect. You said: "I will go off on someone like 20 years older than me if they dont respect me".

But respect is not something you can demand. Respect is given freely and then earned. You cannot have respect if you give none to others. And the way you behave would not engender any respect from anyone because you are not showing them any. It would only make people avoid you or loathe you. 

The main reason why you behave like that is because you are seeking constant attention and you're not getting, it so you become abusive and bullying, instead of finding out why you feel so frustrated with your life that you have to be constantly angry. There is deep frustration and hurt lurking in your emotional psyche and until you find out what it is you are unhappy with, instead of taking it out on others, you will not have too many friends. Worst of all, as you get older you will develop a bad reputation and will be avoided. It could also become very expensive for you if you throw other people's things around.

One way to start a different kind of behaviour is to stop criticising people and notice their good points instead; listen to them instead of just trying to force them to listen to you; be a FRIEND to others and they will want to be friends to you, to respect and affirm you. No one likes bullies and people who are constantly aggressive, so you are not doing yourself any favours. If you want to be respected, then begin the process of learning to give it too. Your anger appears to be connected to your sister and your feelings about her, so stop taking it out on her. Stop behaving in this childish temper tantrums manner. Life will never be just how we want. We have to compromise with others in order to live.  

"Im not a rude person, just get angry...easily!"

You are a very rude and selfish person, because you seem to have no respect for others, or care about their feelings, only about yourself, and are mistreating your sister when you are angry. 

You cry when you're really mad because you feel a sense of impotence and frustration, especially when your bullying behaviour isn't working, or getting you the attention you seek. You don't know what to do next and then the tears take over. You sound very intelligent but is that the best you can do for your life?

How can one be free of tension?


Tension is Nature's way of keeping us on our toes, especially when something isn't right, and preparing us to act upon it. We can never be 'tension free', otherwise we might put our survival at risk, but we can be a darn sight happier within ourselves. Tension provides a springboard for action; for fixing things that we are not quite in sync with, in order to provide balance. If life was entirely cosy every day we would not have the desires we have, neither would we advance our lives at all. However, tension becomes unbearable and stressful only when there is too much of it.

Tension is caused mainly by three things: fear, expectation and desire for approval.

When we FEAR anything there is natural tension while we decide how to handle the situation. We are in the proverbial 'fight or flight' mode. Until we make a decision, which could even affect our very survival at one extreme, we will be in a state of tension. It will make us feel very uncomfortable and edgy. Many people have unnatural fears about life because of their own low confidence and self esteem. They do not have the confidence to react appropriately and so the mere thought of such situations give them a lot of tension. The main way to deal with fear situations is either to avoid them, where possible, or work out, in advance in your head, how you are going to deal with them. In this way you should cut out a lot of unnecessary stress and tension from your routine activities.

EXPECTATIONS also cause much tension because they are unlikely to be fulfilled by others, especially in friendships and relationships. We expect our friend/partner/lover/spouse to fulfil our needs but they have needs too, which are probably not being addressed either, so it is a continuous circle of tension caused by continuous yearning and unfulfilled desires.

The best ways to reduce this kind of tension is to be more realistic in your expectations. Be prepared to negotiate more, to GIVE more to others while expecting less, and use your own resources more instead of depending on those of others. In this way, you retain your own power, your dreams won't be dashed and you will fulfil your needs, while helping others to fulfil theirs too. If they are doing the same for you, bravo! You will also feel a greater sense of joy and purpose in your life, instead of constantly expecting things which are not likely to materialise.

Finally, seeking constant APPROVAL of others by judging ourselves by their yardsticks is the surest way to tension. We can never please everyone in what we do. No matter how hard we try, we will always displease someone because each person has their own expectations and agenda. The best person to please is ourselves. Once we judge ourselves by our own standards, we appreciate ourselves, value ourselves and love ourselves and what we do. We won't feel the need to wait for others to approve us, which will lessen the tension between expectation and fulfilment.

In fact, we will be drawing people to us on our terms, not theirs, because they will flock to us if they like what they see. We won't have to please them to be accepted. Most important, we won't always feel inadequate or wait with dread to see what others are going to say about us. We will already know because we will be the best judge of who we are and wish to be. But only by boosting our personal confidence and self-esteem, through self acceptance and value, can we reach that happy place.

At the root of tension is loss of confidence and personal esteem, which makes us feel inadequate and impotent, and even fear daily routines. It also makes us more negative and dependent upon others. As you asked the question, only you know which of these three factors affect you most in your life, but whatever tension you feel right now would have been created by one or all of them. You would need to establish the source by starting the process of increasing your confidence to a level where you reduce your fears and feel happy in your own skin, while enjoying the gift of simply being you.

The Biggest Cause of Stress: Are You experiencing it now?


Stress affects everyone to some degree, but severe stress is a feeling of being unable to cope and is a reaction to excessive demands and pressures made upon the individual. It is most likely to be maintained by a feeling of personal rejection, insignificance and worthlessness. National Statistics in Britain have reported that approximately one in six adults (excluding those in institutions) has some form of mental health problem, the most common being anxiety with depression caused by stress.

Stress is usually short, sporadic or intermittent, designed to sharpen up our capabilities in coping with life and to improve our resilience. In most cases we do just fine in reacting to it. However, it is when stress continues for long periods that trouble looms. Stress robs you of your good looks, your disposition, your health, your youthfulness, and can even take your life. It is particularly unpleasant and harmful when pressures build up or are prolonged indefinitely; when we are unable to control the demands placed upon us, when we are constantly anxious, and when support is not there when we need it.

The Trades Union Congress actually attribute the causes of stress to: "Excessive work loads, long working hours, unrealistic targets, insecurity, fear of redundancy, harsh disciplinary regimes, lack of management appreciation, poor working conditions and low pay." With a deep recession in progress, the stress would be even more unbearable as people worry about their future.

Thus there has been some welcome focus on reducing stress in the workplace. However, what has escaped everyone's notice in the bid to make work less stressful, is the lethal level of stress caused by simply moving between relationships, especially where the desire for a break is not mutual, or where one is stuck in a relationship which makes one or both parties feel impotent, unhappy or simply miserable. These situations occur on a regular basis, often taken for granted as a necessary part of life.

But wherever stress is recurrent and overwhelming, it can become life-threatening and does affect our health, particularly in lowering individual resistance to fighting illnesses. If nothing is done to reduce such stress, we can be affected by a whole range of ailments, of which the short-term ones may include headaches, sleeping difficulties, irritability, depression, forgetfulness, lack of concentration, increased consumption of alcohol, aggression or social isolation. Long-term stress is likely to cause stomach pains, panic attacks, worsening of asthma, strokes, mental breakdown, heart attacks, family breakdown or suicide, among numerous other problems. Certainly not a subject to be taken lightly.

Routine Life Crises

The primary causes of stress have always been connected to routine life crises, such as family illness, death, moving house or divorce. But, with many relationships lasting only between six months and a year, most people can expect some additional resulting trauma on at least five to six occasions in their lifetime. These are problems which most people try to avoid without ever quite succeeding, because the mere notion of expecting relationships to fail ensures that they do, in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Stress from a break-up is thus the worst kind of stress because it contains personal rejection, momentary insecurity and loss of status/esteem for at least one party, not to mention the financial costs which may be attached. Yet it has been underestimated in its effects and overlooked by government provisions.

When we feel rejected, controlled or unappreciated, everything else in our lives pales into insignificance because we lose our sense of belonging, joy and worth. This affects whatever we do until we feel better. Bereavement of any kind and moving house might come top of the list of any stress-inducing activities, but being stuck in an unwanted relationship, which affects at least 20 per cent of couples, or being momentarily rejected by a partner, should go right to the top of that list because of the ongoing consequences they have for everyone involved.

The Top Causes of Stress: Which of them affect you now?


The primary causes of stress have always been connected to routine life crises, such as family illness, death, moving house or divorce. But, with many relationships lasting only between six months and a year, most people can expect some additional resulting trauma on at least five to six occasions in their lifetime.

These are problems which most people try to avoid without ever quite succeeding, because the mere notion of expecting relationships to fail ensures that they do, in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Stress from a break-up is thus the worst kind of stress because it contains personal rejection, momentary insecurity and loss of status/esteem, for at least one party, not to mention the financial costs which may be attached. Yet it has been underestimated in its effects and overlooked by government provisions.

When we feel rejected, controlled or unappreciated, everything else in our lives pales into insignificance because we lose our sense of belonging, joy and worth. This affects whatever we do until we feel better. Bereavement of any kind and moving house might come top of the list of any stress-inducing activities, but being stuck in an unwanted relationship, which affects at least 20 per cent of couples, or being momentarily rejected by a partner, should go right to the top of that list because of the ongoing consequences they have for everyone involved.

In fact, an aggregate of key surveys conducted last year, both at home and abroad, has revealed the main causes of stress, based on the percentage of audience response to multiple life choices, and they accurately reflect current anxieties. The most popular causes, identified as a percentage from all the responses, are the following:

1. Conflicts with loved ones (58%)

2. Money problems (54%)

3. Job/home demands (42%)

4. Pace of modern life (39%)

5. Body weight (33%)

6. Lack of free time (29%)

7. Excessive noise (29%)

8. Crime in the community (25%)

9. Lack of sleep (23%)

10. Violence on TV or movies (22%)

11. Health problems (21%)

12. Body image (20%)

I could say quite quickly that Health Problems and Lack of Free Time would be my top two.

The more of these you have troubling you at any one time is the lesser the actual quality of your existence. If you have more than three affecting your daily life, they need to be sorted sooner rather than later because, if they haven't begun to do so yet, they will soon take their toll on you personally.

Three Simple Tips For Avoiding Stress


1. Don't Always Try to Please Others

....Or to be like someone else. It is very considerate when you care about the feelings of others but your needs are just as important. If you neglect yourself when you feel ill and then get worse, how much good are you to your spouse or children then? If you also try to do everything for others all the time, to virtually dictate what they do, or live their lives for them, you will make them dependent upon you, which will be deeply resented the day you cannot continue in like manner.

Worse still, over time you will rob them of their self-respect and keep them as underachievers, incapable of progressing their lives in their own way. It is a desire to control others, and to feel superior in ourselves, that makes us overwhelm them with kindness and pretend they are incapable or that we are indispensable. But ever thought what they would do if you fall ill or dropped dead? At the heart of living by your principles is the ability to say 'NO' which is equally valuable as saying 'YES'.

Additionally, trying to imitate someone else we admire also leads to a lack of self-worth and confidence. You are unique and cannot be anyone else. Learn from others, by all means, but strive for greater development on your terms, no one else's. Being a carbon copy of someone else simply represses your own creativity and talent and makes you feel constantly inadequate. Like a diamond, it is much better to be the genuine article, and flawed, than to be perfect and a pale imitation.

2. Believe in Something
Whether it is religion, atheism, politics or philosophy, beliefs help to mould our principles and determine who we are, where we stand in the world and where we are going. Feel entitled to believe in whatever you like, whether God or little green men, that's your right. As long as you do not impose your beliefs on others, or use them to assess or judge other people negatively. If you believe in nothing you will fall for anything, and people who stay in the middle of the road eventually get run over! Waverers also command little respect because others tend to feel insecure around them. Such people change with the wind and are perceived as untrustworthy. It is the desire to please everyone, as well as to be liked, which robs you of any principles and leaves you pleasing no one in the process. Being yourself means you will always have the courage of your convictions to stand out from the crowd.

3. Accept Personal Balance
There will be certain things at which you are more adept and competent. Equally, there will be areas in which others excel, so it is impossible to expect perfection in every aspect of your life. It is a lack of acknowledgement and respect for the competence of others that makes us feel we have to compete on their terms to feel worthy. That's why many bosses with low confidence often take the credit for the work/achievements of their colleagues. Remind yourself that there is always something you know which every person you meet will not know, while there is always something you won't know on which you will have to be informed. It will stop you feeling that everyone else is 'better' than you in every respect, or that you are smugly superior in any way.

These three simple tips are very important for giving us inner peace and contentment, as well as self-respect, because we won't be living the lives other people dictate for us. We won't be constantly comparing ourselves with others either and will gradually become aware of our own potential and limitations. Above all, we'll have the confidence, courage and conviction to live in our own way, and our own style while being sensitive to the needs of others.

Two Key Ways to Reduce Your Stress


With stress causing so many problems in our lives, it needs to be seriously addressed, while bearing in mind that one person's level of stress could be another person's challenge. Stress does not have to be automatic. It is actually allowed by the individual, though modern living weakens one's resolve and encourages it to happen.

For example, many men have affairs outside their relationships simply for the thrill of it. Often to see how long they can keep it going without it being discovered by their spouses. They know the risks of loss if they are found out, but betting on the odds of discovery while they push infidelity to its limits perhaps provides a greater buzz, in spite of the stress involved. A kind of game involving all parties, except that only the key player knows the rules. This situation carries constant stress and heightens the enjoyment, but is rather dangerous where one is playing for high stakes, and could lose all, and especially when life seldom conforms exactly to plan.

We need to reduce stress on all fronts to live more fulfilling, healthy lives, and two simple ways of doing this are the following:

l. Be yourself and be true to yourself.
If you lie to yourself and others about your own needs and feelings, aspirations and pain, how can you be trusted, or be able to even sort your problems out? How can you live with yourself, either? You will be forever in denial and under the stress of keeping up the pretence. It is a fruitless search for perfection that makes us pretend to be what we are not, whether to seek approval, for fear of a particular consequence, or because we wish to impress. Being yourself is also the first sign of self-love and approval. It means people can accept or reject you, but on YOUR terms, not theirs. The desire to be liked by everyone, or not to upset anyone (both impossible to achieve) encourages us to lie to ourselves.

Being yourself means that what others see in you is what they would actually get, which sets the parameters for interaction and increases their comfort level and trust in dealing with you. Secretive people, who carry lots of negative or deceptive thoughts in their head, find it hard to be themselves because they live a life of pretence and dare not relax. They think they will always be judged by others, and, as they are likely to be more negative in approach, they dare not reveal how they really feel. However, as many people would find it hard to relate to them, such secrecy and superficiality merely repel others, keeping them friendless or isolated.

Notice the early warning signs of stress.

Especially the agitated thoughts in your head which keep you awake at night and feeling paranoid. Often stress comes from fear of a given situation, or perceived incompetence relating to a past act, and not from the situation itself. Thus the origin of stress is primarily inside our heads. We spend so much time wondering 'What if I had...?' or reliving past mistakes and actions which we cannot alter, and regretting everything we have done, we then lose opportunities to redress the balance and to feel good about ourselves. The past underlines our stress as we are often stuck back there, full of regrets and punishing ourselves yet unable to change the outcomes. Futile regrets about our behaviour, especially our mistakes, only keep us stuck in a negative past and lower our confidence and esteem, thus reducing positive situations.

You need to get rid of recurring negative thoughts and move on. They simply kill motivation and self-love. Ditch the old negative friends you carry around, both inside and outside of your head, the ones which freeze you in time. Make new friends with brighter thoughts and feelings. The best way to do this is by choosing your company carefully. Negative people tend to draw each other like magnets. They only drag you down and sap your strength and creativity by their constant doom, gloom and control. They cannot see your vision, they are perhaps envious of you, or they lack confidence in themselves, and their only good feeling comes from keeping you in their orbit of criticism and self-loathing. Of course, you won't feel any different hanging out with them. You will merely become a mirror of their objectives, reflecting their negative opinion of themselves, which then kills your own self-belief and appeal.

On the other hand, positive people uplift you, encourage you and accept your faults because they are more interested in you as a real, open person, like them with all your warts, than in a perfect being which does not ever exist. Naturally, that is bound to make you feel much better about yourself and indirectly reduces your stress.

How stress can reduce your lifespan


Anything that makes us feel anxious, worried, angry, nervous and frustrated is giving us stress. That is a sure sign of how the body is reacting to change. Not everyone reacts the same way to stress. We all have different thresholds of tolerance for the regular crises that happen in our lives.

Thus the degree of stress we experience, or are likely to have, is highly dependent upon individual factors such as physical health, the quality of our relationships, the number of commitments and responsibilities we have, the degree to which others depend upon us, all the differing expectations of us, the amount of emotional and practical support we have from others and the number of changes or traumatic events that we have recently experienced. Moreover, a little bit of stress is good to motivate us, to stop us from feeling too complacent and to develop and hone our survival skills. But too much stress can reduce our lifespan and threaten our very existence in three main ways.

1. When we fear change, we tend to resist it and become very worried and anxious, generating a lot of unnecessary stress. We are then likely to turn to an external agent to help us to cope: either food, alcohol, cigarettes or drugs, to 'calm' our nerves or to distract us from it. All of those tend to affect the state of our health in a negative way, to reduce our capacity to cope with the rigours of life and impact on our health in the long term. Cigarettes tend to affect our lungs and respiratory functions, alcohol affects the kidneys and ability to perform at our best and drugs can take its toll on our bodies in ways that are not even noticeable. Food, of course, makes us fat and unhealthy, reducing our life quality and potential age.

2. Stress makes us vulnerable to other negative effects on our lives because it keeps the body in a constant state of agitation, on high alert, which is not healthy for it, and gradually reduces our immunity to illnesses and diseases. Every illness we have has the potential to erode the quality of our existence and the longevity of it. Constant stress thus reduces the time we have to live by weakening our defences and making us prone to unexpected problems. When we are very stressed, we often become paralysed with fear and are unable to act to remedy our situation. Failure to act could then have a knock-on effect later on which could threaten our lives. After all, if we are weak, we cannot deal with daily crises, so the length of our existence will be shortened.

3. Too much stress actually causes diseases because that is the main way the body copes with having to deal with being constantly on high alert. With stress, we tend to get a variety of emotional and even physical symptoms, especially headaches and lack of sleep, though the symptoms vary greatly among different individuals. Common physical symptoms often reported in cases of excess stress include headaches, sleep disturbances, fatigue, muscle tension and stomach upsets. Emotional symptoms of high stress include nervousness, anxiety, changes in eating habits, especially eating too much or too little, loss of enthusiasm or energy, and mood changes.

Though all of those symptoms can also be brought on by other factors, not necessarily high stress, they can all affect how the body functions in a derogatory way. Overeating, for example, can make one obese, which then puts extra strain on the heart and can lead to a heart attack and early death, while under-eating robs one of essential nutrition and strength . Furthermore, stress is designed to cope with crises and is thus more suitable for emergencies. The body is a finely tuned temple of balance. Anything out of sync will upset its delicate equilibrium. It is not built to cope with constant stress and so will try to get rid of it through the various other symptoms we gradually develop. These then work in a domino effect to affect our quality of life and actual lifespan.


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