In Part 1 of this article we uncovered the fundamental cause of our stress – us. So now, let’s look a little deeper into how it all works. If we are indeed the cause of our stress, what is that we do in order to generate it within us?
Viva Le Resistance
Simply put, stress occurs within us whenever we consciously or unconsciously resist a person, situation or event in our life. When we are unwilling to accept the reality of something or someone, we begin to generate a resistance within us that can manifest in our physical bodies as stress. Often this is something that we feel deeply justified in and in some ways we even celebrate this however, underneath it all we are simply opening the door to a form of dis-ease that only we will experience and that will do nothing to change what has already happened.
The Illusionary World of Shoulds and Shouldn’ts
So how do we know when we’ve done this? A key marker that will indicate you are resisting a given situation is when you find yourself thinking or saying something along the lines of, “that person SHOULDN’T have spoken to me in that way” or “I SHOULD have done this” or “ I WISH that hadn’t happened”. Sound familiar? This form of reactive behaviour is more common these days than ever which is why we are seeing instances of stress and stress related illness increasing dramatically – we not only condone it but in a lot of ways we encourage it within each other. How many times have you joined someone in their conflict and seen their rage within grow exponentially from your encouragement or “support”? This is more common place than perhaps we’d like to admit.
When we attempt to change the past through creating imaginary scenarios that have no context within reality, we begin to create discord within ourselves as we fight with the reality of what has already occurred. How often do you find yourself going into conflict either externally or within, when a situation doesn’t “go the way you think it should”? And how easily can you let it go, and I mean really let it go? You’ll know the answer to that question the next time you find yourself in a similar situation – if memories come crashing through your mind relating to past events you’ll know you haven’t let them go. And that’s okay, because what we want to do is go beyond simply letting something go – we want to transcend it by being in complete acceptance. It is acceptance that is the key to freeing ourselves from stress.
I had a client recently telling me a story about a situation they had just experienced with a colleague at work and at the end of the story they simply stated, “He should have shown me more respect”. So how shocked were they when I quickly replied, “no he shouldn’t have”. Taken aback that I hadn’t simply agreed with them let alone consoled them over the story, they gasped – “ But what do you mean?!!” And so I walked them back through their story and at the end I said – “so correct me if I’m wrong but your story involved this other person showing you a level of respect that is less than you would like”. And when they agreed wholeheartedly, I went on to point out how their statement “he should have shown me more respect” contradicted that. The reality was that he showed them the level of respect that he showed them – that’s it. He “shouldn’t” have shown them more and infact he couldn’t have shown them more – how do we know this? Because he didn’t! That’s the reality.
It was their unwillingness to accept the reality of the situation that was causing the stress they were experiencing, not the experience itself. And even though this is the key part to moving through any situation in a stress free manner, it is where most people get caught up – acceptance. So what is the REAL meaning of acceptance and how can we use it?
Acceptance versus Agreement
The most common misinterpretation of acceptance that I’ve found with my clients involves their belief that acceptance means agreement – it does not. When I speak about accepting the reality of the situation I am not referring to agreeing with what has happened, I am simply talking about acknowledging that what has happened indeed happened. That’s it.
If I was to ask you to agree with the situation it would be nothing more than a continuation of the very same behaviour that is underpinning the stress you are experiencing – judgement. When we judge a situation we have already removed ourselves from the actual reality of that situation – whether or not we deem it as good or bad it REALLY doesn’t matter. When we decide that it is bad or wrong or negative we begin to move into resistance, we begin to create scenarios of how we think it should be and we start the process within us that creates stress in our lives.
The Benefits of Acceptance
When we are able to accept the reality of any given situation, person or event we enable ourselves to take control over how we then act in response. You’ll notice I mentioned “act in response” rather than react. When we act we are moving from a new space that is not tainted with our judgement of where we are and who is around us. It allows us to move freely and easily to the next situation, next solution, next space that is best for us. When we re-act, we are behaving from a past judgement of which more often than not many other past instances, memories and grievances will come flooding into our mind, compounding our behaviour and culminating in external and internal conflict.
Let’s put another slant on this. So if you were in a situation that you felt challenging, if you were to look for a solution that could quickly and easily move you to a better space for you, from what headspace do you think you would best serve finding that solution? From a clouded space of irritation and frustration where you are focused completely on the injustice of what has just occurred or, from a clear, calm and controlled space where you can focus wholey on the next step with your attention solely on finding the solution that is best for you?
Seems obvious doesn’t it? Acceptance is what creates that space for you to move more freely through any situation and coupled with taking responsibility for your actions is the key, when used correctly, to stress free business.
About David Candy
David Candy is a mentor, workshop presenter and personal development expert. His passion for his work has come through a personal journey of deep self discovery and empowerment that has seen him overcome many challenges in his life and allowed him to develop his own unique style. Now based in Wellington, New Zealand, he works with businesses, business owners and entrepreneurs from all over the world helping them to maximise their life’s potential through his mentoring program. His work has also been published in journals and online media throughout Australia and New Zealand.