Saturday, May 16, 2009

Stress, Responsibility & Power

The Stressfish has learned, at some time during its long swim through the many tributaries of the personal development river network, that nothing is more stressful than responsibility without power.

Feeling responsible for someone or some thing without having any power over them or it leads to stress that simply can't be cured, and its ongoing stress, the worst kind.

So the Stressfish has created a little game for himself.

Rather than immediately taking full, 100% responsibility for EVERYTHING IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE, as it tends to be the StressFish's habit, he has begun to apportion responsibility in percentages.

For example.

Mr and Mrs StressFish have an offspring who has been misbehaving.

Is this entirely the StressFish's fault?

It was in the past.

It FELT LIKE THAT in the past.

With the percentage game, the StressFish has come to think that actually, the responsibility over the offspring is only 50%, because Mrs StressFish owns the other half of the company that is involved in rearing the spawn.

50% responsibility feels a lot lighter already, and airbubbles of relief were had by the StressFish, just at the thought of that.

But then it went further.

Seeing that the spawn spent many hours in school and with teachers, far away from either Mr or Mrs StressFish, perhaps some responsibility might be apportioned there?

After all, the incidents all occurred at school or during time the spawn should have spent in school, under supervision, being looked after, kept busy, and taught the ways of the various fish tanks of his future.

At least 10 - 15% of responsibility might lie there, which reduces the burden for Mr and Mrs StressFish to 85-90%, and their own personal responsibility to less than it was before.

What about the spawn itself?

The StressFish thought that there may be a sliding scale of personal responsibility for the own well being as the spawn got older, with 0% when they are 0 years old, and at least 16% at age 16.

So it was that as the StressFish was thinking about the burdens of responsibility not only did those burdens begin to lighten significantly, but also a more REALISTIC viewpoint on the situation began to emerge.

And there was a turning point somewhere, where instead of suffering in silence and just stressing himself into a heart attack the StressFish began to realise that the true responsibility was a shared one, and that the problems could only be successfully resolved if EVERYONE who had a share in this got together, and started to pull their weight, and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THOSE THINGS THEY WERE ACTUALLY REALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR.

As you can imagine, dear reader, a whole new way of not just thinking and feeling, but of ACTING came out of the responsibility percentages game the StressFish had invented for himself just so he would feel a little bit better and have less headaches, less often.

In fact, the StressFish was so pleased with the RESULTS as pertaining to his offspring, that he started to think like that also in terms of his company, his fellow directors, and his employees.

And what he found was that he wasn't really powerless after all; he had a lot of power and there were MANY things the StressFish could do with the power he actually had - and that was the best stress relief of them all.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Stress Of Nothing

As the StressFish swims about his tank, round and round, doing the jobs he does, it's all pretty stressy.

Sure ... to be expected.

But there is something even more terrifying and this happened today.

At 11.13am sharp, the StressFish was finished with all his work for the day.


Now what?


Here's now when the StressFish really started to quake, to shiver and to shake, going from here, to there, and back again in a random and disturbing pattern - NOTHING to do!

Aaaargh ...

In your fishbowl, no-one can hear you scream ....

But we must say in the StressFish's defense, that he does try.

He made himself a website to overcome his problems.

Hell, he even got himself a blog to share his trials and tribulations with the World! Above, and below water, at that!

He's brave, is our StressFish.

The NOTHING can be overcome.

Yeah ...

Take a deep breath ...

Alright, that's a bit better.

Shake yourself like a dog, sure it looks funny when the StressFish does it, but it is a good way in which to shake off some madness and regain a sense of self, of time and space.

Another deep breath.

Now, we can feel the StressFish stepping down, calming down.

That's a relief.

The NOTHINGNESS recedes strangely, and at the same time.

Space begins to appear where there was none.

We might fill this space with something - something pleasant?

Something nice?

That would be nice ...

What might it be ...?

And not much later, we find the StressFish swimming belly up, wriggling his fins, enjoying the sun on the water, kicking back, remembering that it is good to be alive, remembering that the NOTHING is nothing to be feared, but a chance in fact to take a few moments to enjoy this world, and being in it.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Learning How To Say "NO!"

The StressFish admits to being something of a perfectionist. He prides himself on being able to handle lots of stress, keep multiple plates spinning in the air, and being that reliable guy you can always call on and they'll leap to your rescue.

But recently, this all has seemed like not such a good idea.

People pile more and more projects on, at any time; and the already overflowing task line is getting dangerously unstable, and nothing seems to get done properly any more.

In the final stages of this, nothing gets done at all any longer.

So the StressFish is learning how to say, "No."

At first, this was nearly painful, terrifying - if you don't do and be everything to everyone, won't people stop respecting you? Won't you feel like a failure? What of the quest to be that perfect StressFish of whom mommy and daddy can be proud?

Here's what the StressFish came to realise.

If perfection is required, this can only obtained by protecting projects and the flow and order and sequence in which these projects are executed from all these intrusions and extra tasks being piled on.

So the StressFish no longer leaps up to run to the dry cleaners for a favour for a friend or colleague when asked; he now calculates a suitable time WHEN THE MOST IMPORTANT PROJECTS HAVE BEEN FINISHED and offers this to the favour asker - "I'll pick up your dry cleaning tommorrow, around 8pm ..."

Oh? That's too late?

Too bad ...

But do let me know if you want me to do it tommorrow still ....

And now, back to the real task in hand.

With the success of this tactic, the StressFish is becoming braver.

He even says, "No!" now sometimes when asked to do this, or that, or that other thing, or could you just please ...

"No. I am finishing an important project at the moment, and I couldn't give yours the time and attention it clearly deserves. I wouldn't want to let you down ..."

It is astonishing how many of these random, spurious interruptive requests from others simply go away once one stops leaping into action immediately. Seems that the StressFish was NOT the only rescue, SuperMan flying in to save the hapless - because when he said no, they found someone else instead!

The fact that the projects the StressFish are working on becoming MORE perfect, more elegant, and his time is much better spent with much less stress is a revelation.

He is still always trying to be helpful - but not automatically so any longer, and no longer at the cost of his own projects, his time, and his performance.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't turn a Drama into a Crisis ...

The StressFish says:

Don't turn an event into an incident.
Don't turn an incident into a drama.
Don't turn a drama into a crisis.
Don't turn a crisis into a catastrophy.
Don't turn a catastrophy into a cataclysm.
And definetly, definetly NEVER turn a cataclysm into an apocalypse!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Live Longer With Less Stress - Time Distortion

It has come to the StressFishes attention that if you want to live longer, and stay younger for as long as possible, you need to de-stress.

And that's not really about the usual health risks associated with stress - premature grey hair, heart attacks, sagging, impotence and all that malaky.

No - what I'm talking about here is subjective time, and time distortion.

Have you ever heard people say, "When I was a kid, a week seem to last forever. Now that I'm 50, time just seems to flash by so fast!"

Yeah - that would be subjective time, or time distortion at work.

When you're stressed, things speed up.

Subjective time becomes shorter.

This is bad news on many different levels.

For one, your response time becomes shorter - you don't have the time to respond right, or get everything done that needs to be done.

Not because there's not enough time, but because what there is has been distorted into a kind of fast forward mode.

This is a direct effect of stress, and has a direct cause and effect relationship with stress, meaning that the more stressed you are, the faster time starts to run.

Which leads to feeling out of control, that there isn't enough time, that you're constantly running at full speed but never getting anywhere, and that creates even more stress all around.

So what is to be done?

It's simple.

As soon as you notice that there doesn't seem to be enough time, you need to STOP.

STOP and employ one of the many, many de-stressing techniques there are available, on the spot. Many only take SECONDS and you can feel the stress ebbing away.

At the same time, notice that your vision expands - you're getting your periphery back - the colours are getting brighter, objects are more sharply defined and clearer; you become aware of sounds that you didn't hear before, and, most importantly, TIME SLOWS RIGHT DOWN.

Now there's plenty of time all of a sudden to react quickly to what needs to be done, and to see what is important to do.

Now, things that were difficult become easier and often, difficulties simply disappear altogether.

Every time you de-stress, you GAIN LIFE TIME.

Both ways - health wise a few extra seconds of living are gained, and in subjective time, which is our memories and eventually, all of time we actually know as human beings.

So remember when time seems to run away from you, or simply if you want to make the most of your time of life, DE-STRESS.

Not at the end of the day, or once a year on holiday, but LITTLE DE-STRESSING HOLIDAYS inside of the days themselves.

That's what slows down time for you and leads in every way to a much better life all around.

"Time is my friend."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mind Control

The practice of mind control is essential for reducing stress I find.

Mind control means nothing more and nothing less than that one should choose the thoughts one thinks.

I appreciate that this sounds difficult, but it isn't.

Most people just never try.

This morning, during routine maintenace, a fault in the outside drainage systems was discovered.

"This is going to cost me a fortune," I thought and then I stopped and asserted mind control.

To myself I said, "We will find out if the buildings insurance covers this."

Phew ...

Instant stress relief.

To stop when you find you are thinking something stressful, and DELIBERATELY thinking something positive or logical instead, takes stress right out in that moment.

There are some simple standard phrases I use a lot when this sort of thing happens.

"Wait and see," is one of them.

Jumping to conclusions is extremely stressy as well as happening under stress by default - our thoughts get jumpy, they're not logical, not cohesive, don't rationally follow one another in an orderly fashion.

"I'll never be able to pay this bill ..." -> Let's wait and see ... becomes a stopper that gives a breathing space to come up with a rational plan of action.

Another one I use a lot is, "This is going to be easy, and it's going to be fun."

I use that when I find I thought, "Oh God, I'll never be able to ...."

... survive the weekend with the inlaws;
... lose weight;
... get over this problem;
... pay those bills;
... convince the teenager to clean up their room;
... get this mess sorted out;
... make this computer do what I want it to;
... get home alive;
... etc. etc. etc.

Once I think stuff like that, I go and deliberately think and say to myself, "This is going to be easy, and it's going to be fun."

It takes the stress out and creates that space for figuring out what you have to do next.

Under the frame of "easy and fun" you might even get some good new ideas that just simply weren't there before.

Mind control is actually easy once you know that it's there, it is possible to change the direction of your thoughts, and think what you want to.

It becomes even easier with practice still, so - let's use our fine minds to solve our problems, clear of stress, and take control over what you want to think about, and how you want to think about it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Confusion + Frustration = Stress

Signing up for Twitter this morning, I learned something important.

I thought stress was stress but it's not. Or, rather, it is only we give one thing a bunch of different names - and then we don't know that its ALL just stress.

I started the day by being extremely frustrated by the help squad over at MSN Live Spaces who have deleted the account you need in order to get into the live space associated with it and now tell me to log into an account that doesn't exist. Ping-ponging backwards and forwards between numerous people and departments with no avail made my "frustration" levels rise - until I realised that I was getting EXTREMELY STRESSED.

The thing with "frustration" the little brother of anger and second cousin to RAGE is that it really is just stress!

The minute I realised this I took myself in hand and made myself go out into the garden and take pictures of snowy bamboo and bird tracks.

It was a bit of a struggle. I had to drag myself out by my own hair. But I know how bad stress is for me and I'm not into collecting more psychosomatics now so I did go out, and I did de-stress in the fresh air and being fascinated by the images I was dealing with.

When I got back in I remembered the "frustration" and I also understood that in the past, I thought that getting angry and fed up with people was something different, something JUSTIFIED - who wouldn't get angry at support antics?

You're RIGHT to be angry!

Sure, sure. Sure!

But it's stress!

And who am I hurting with this frustration?


Not MSN!

I found it a lot easier to let go of the "just stress" than I would have found it to let go of the "righteous indignation" of anger and frustration, and that was interesting too.

Not much later, I got terribly confused.

Trying to make a Twitter account and not getting anywhere and getting progressively more upset, freaked out, confused - ahem, yes, when it got bad enough, I recognised our good friend stress in fancy costume YET AGAIN.

Now, we've heard about letting go of stress, and of anger, but can you actually physically let go of confusion?!

I decided to re-label the confusion and helplessness to "stress" and do something to de-stress myself - phone a friend before I burst a blood vessel.

As it happened, the friend in question already knew about Twitter and practically sorted me out which was great - confusion alleviated!

  • I came away from all of that thinking how much easier life is going to be if I stop worrying about confusion and frustration and anger and helplessness and all that jazz and simply concentrate on my rising stress levels, and do something as soon as I notice, without prejudice, without fail.
Seems like a plan ... :-)

An iconic image from the winter garden ...