You and I are intimately acquainted. You were my constant companion during the 8 years I worked in the fast paced, crazy advertising/communication world. You are still my companion every time I do something new.
But now I know better. I know who you are, Stress. That the generic word we use to describe you doesn’t really say anything. That you are not an emotion.
I am not saying you don’t exist. Oh, I would never deny your existence!
But I understand now that there is always a good reason you show up. And that you have a message you are trying to convey. And that while you are not an emotion, you always have emotion(s) driving you.
So now, instead of saying, “I’m so stressed!!”, I ask myself: What is really going on? What emotions can I identify BEHIND the stress?
Being able to get specific about the emotions behind stress is removes some of the overwhelm. It helps me feel I am not fighting an invisible enemy.
Some of the emotions behind stress can be:
Are changes coming too quickly? —> Fear
Are you worried about how something will work or what people will think? —> Anxiety
Are your boundaries being threatened? —> Anger
Are you unsure of what to do next? —> Confusion / Overwhelm
Are you refusing to let go of something that no longer works for you? —> Sadness
Have you suffered an irretrievable loss? —> Grief
So perhaps, next time you feel ‘stressed’, instead of saying to yourself or others ‘I’m so stressed!!’ try to pinpoint the emotion behind the stress. What’s really going on? Research shows that simply labelling an emotion we are feeling, without ‘doing’ anything about it, can help defuse some of the power it has over us.
Source: Research on labelling emotions done by UCLA psychologist Matthew Lieberman