October 10, 2021

Every single one of these responses is a sign that we got stressed.

Did you get stressed this week? I know I did.

What was the trigger?

Was is someone or something? Was it an unfulfilled expectation or an unexpected disruption?

I’ll get into what causes our stress later, but this week I’d like to talk about our response. Or rather, our responses.

I have learned that there are basically six main responses to stress. And only two of them are healthy.

The healthy ones are simple: influence or adapt.

They are both driven by an attitude of serving – which is what makes them healthy.

Things get unhealthy when we go into survival mode.

Unhealthy response #1: Shame.

This is when we say to ourselves “I don’t belong.” Or even say “nothing I do is good enough.”

It’s usually not true, actually. But it’s hard to think/feel clearly when we’re stressed.

Unhealthy response #2: Manipulation.

This is when we try to force the outcome. It’s not serving anyone but ourselves – even if we don’t see it that way.

We use anger, perfectionism, pouting, and a host of other techniques. But the outcome is always the same: get things settled the way we want them to be.

Unhealthy response #3: Blame.

This is when we say to ourselves “it’s not my fault.” Or better yet “it’s their fault.” 

It produces a false sense of certainty. Usually by projecting all of the shame-based uncertainties we feel about ourselves into someone or something else.

Unhealthy response #4: Withdrawal.

This is when we disconnect – physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially – to be “safe.” It’s driven by a sense of avoiding blame, especially toward ourselves (“you can’t blame me because I wasn’t involved”).

So, why the big breakdown of unhealthy behaviors? Every single one of these responses is a sign that we got stressed.

And if you, like me, take a moment to look back on the past week to see how many responses were generated – we’ll see how much stress we’re under.

And whether or not we’re as healthy as we want to be.

(Like what you are reading? Please follow this blog and join the conversation.)

Published by timohai

Father, widower, leader, sales enablement pro at Workday. *These are my personal views and do not officially represent Workday.

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