“It’s time to change the narrative…”
I think the most dangerous thing about stress is that we have become so used to it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Stress is something that will never go away.
But the sheer volume of it today – the constant presence of it – makes me shake my head in disbelief.
The crazy part is that we all know this is bad.
So, why do we allow it to roam so freely in the wide open spaces of our souls?
I have been wrestling with this question ever since my wife got leukemia. I wrestled with it all the way through her chemo. I wrestled with it all the way through her recovery. I wrestled with it all the way through the cancer coming back and eventually taking her away from us. And I’m still wrestling with it now.
With that said, all of the wrestling has taught me a few things. Things like:
Stress leads to poor decision-making. When we’re stressed, we shift from the pre-frontal cortex of our brains and go to our amygdala – the so-called “lizard brain” in the middle our heads. We know this is happening because we immediately get angry or afraid. Some of us just freeze.
But regardless of our response, we immediately become focused on ourselves. And only ourselves. We start surviving – and stop serving. In other words, every solution we come up with, and every decision we make, is focused solely on “me” – which only injects toxicity into the situation. The good news is there is a way to completely change this response, but only IF we intentionally master it.
Stress leads to poor health. Many of us – especially Type A personalities like me – will often fake our way through the moment, only to let it all out once we get home. We somehow delay self-centered gratification until we walk through the door and crash – physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually. We call it “I’m in a bad mood” or “I’ve had a really hard day” – then proceed to drink/eat/consume what we shouldn’t. Or unload on our partners and children. Or disengage completely, withdrawing from the very connections that nurture our souls. The list goes on and on…
The outcome is always the same: we’re not healthy. We eventually have a hard moment with the doctor, the therapist, or the lawyer. Again, there is a way to completely change this response, but only IF we intentionally master it.
And perhaps the most important thing that I have learned from wrestling with stress is this: Stress keeps us from becoming the best version of ourselves.
When I get stressed, I stop being the me that I want to be. I undo the progress I have made. I reinforce habits that I’m trying to kill. It’s like climbing a metal slide that is covered with oil.
Which is why I’m reviving my blog. I have found many friends – and even strangers – who understand the struggle with stress all too well.
Business leaders, stay-at-home parents, pastors, and students. Whatever the label, stress has become too big to ignore. Too common. Too “normal.”
And it’s time to change the narrative.
If you want to join me, please follow this blog and join the conversation. Let’s turn this struggle into a victory.