Choosing Stress

You have the right to choose the stress in your life. Before you run out to find a padded cell to protect me from myself, hear me out.

Nature of stress

There are two sources of stress: external and internal. External stress comes in the form of the fears, anxiety and frustration that result from unexpected changes in our our lives whether from things like pandemics, economic changes, political woes or health issues.

Internal stress is typically born of the challenge and excitement associated with opportunities. This type of stress is energizing, exciting and enjoyable. There are few things as enjoyable as pursuing something we desire.

Now that we’ve identified the two types of stress, let’s look at the choices available to you.

External stress

While externally-generated stress is inevitable in our lives, it doesn’t mean that we have to nurture it. Those among us who live the most successful and joyful lives are those who refuse to embrace the stress generated by external factors.

Instead, they choose to:

  • Avoid judging the situation as being good or bad. They view it merely as something that requires their attention or that they can’t change [Serenity Prayer].
  • Take actions that will resolve the issue or set it aside until they have more information with which to work.

With these two choices they eliminate the fear, anxiety and stress they were experiencing in favor of a more calm, conscious choice of what to do next.

Internal stress

The stress that comes with new opportunities, new directions for our lives, is the kind of stress we want…as long as we don’t allow it to become an obsession. The moment the fun goes out of pursuit, you are likely crossing the line into obsession. As we become obsessed, the dream moves from desire to need. When that occurs, we cross the line from into the realm of external stress. For at that point, every obstacle becomes an external factor preventing us from realizing our dream. Yet, in reality, we’ve chosen this path; albeit, subconsciously.

For you

Realize that stress in life is inevitable. Remind yourself that you have a choice as to how you deal with stress whether internally or externally generated. Refuse to nurture external stress by (1) not judging it as good or bad, (2) consciously deciding on a course of action.

Medical studies have shown that externally-generated stress, if nurtured, has negative long-term impact on your health. It ages more you quickly in both your overall health as well as your physical appearance. Those who don’t nurture this kind of stress typically sport huge smiles that make them attractive to all whom they meet.

On the flip side of the coin, stress that results from our choice to pursue new challenges, to follow our passion and dreams, afford us long-term mental, emotional and physical health. Those who devote their energy to this kind of stress appear younger than their chronology and enjoy life to an exponentially greater degree.

The choice is yours. Please choose wisely.

For our kids

As your kids experience stress, help them understand the difference between internally-generated and externally-generated stress. Let them know that they have a choice in dealing with both types of stress. 

But most of all, live this message. Kids will trust what you say more when they’ve seen you live with little stress other than that of your choosing…which is in the pursuit of what you want from life.

Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your experience in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link). 

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

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2 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, As usual great wisdom on Stress! Over the years, I have found that I am unable to control the things that stress me out. What I have disciplined myself to shorten the period of time that i stress. That serves me well!

    • dfurtwengler

      Perfect Bill! Some of the things that irritate us or cause us stress often aren’t very logical, but the irritation and stress are experienced none the less. As you said, we can’t control these initial feelings, but we can choose not to nurture them. As always, I appreciate your reflections.

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