Today, I’m going to show you how to neutralize from stress with three easy steps.
It’s a common belief that stress comes from outside us and happens to us. Unfortunately this is a myth that keeps us stuck in a cycle of burnout inducing stress.
Stress is actually something that results from our reaction to something outside us. Science calls this the flight or fight response.
For us muggles, that means the secret to managing stress is to manage our response. This is great news because its easier to manage our response than it is to manage that thing outside us like the boss who delivers a project at 4pm on Friday afternoon that is due on Monday morning. You know what that feels like right?
The other great thing is that if we can manage our response we can act instead of react and that always gives us more power and confidence. So how do we neutralize stress?
When I was a corporate lawyer I studied a lot Buddhist teachings to help me manage the stress. There is a Buddhist saying: “Attachment creates illusion.” In modern terms, that means attachment creates stress. So the key is to detach.
The problem is I could never figure out how to detach. That is until I discovered the power of neutrality and how to achieve it in three easy steps.
First, and this is a good tip before you do anything is to visualize your self as strong physically and emotionally. I find it helpful to imagine your core is strong. You can do this by imagining a bright light running from your tailbone to the crown of your head. You can even imagine zipping up a long Teflon jacket that will deflect the stress. Whatever works for you to feel strong. Just remember visualization is powerful.
Now that you’re strong, it’s time to get neutral.
First, consider the worse case scenario of what will happen as a result of this stressor. Let’s say it’s your boss dumping the project on your desk on Friday afternoon. What’s the worse case scenario? You miss out on a fun weekend. You don’t get it done on time and get fired, lose our job, lose our house, your spouse and end up on the street. Or worse you have to live with your mom. Sounds crazy right? Of course it is, but it was one of mine and I find it a common fear for many people who are burnt out.
With your worst-case scenario in mind, focus on your strong core, and imagine yourself unhitching from this scenario. It can no longer drag you around or drain your energy. You become neutral to it happening.
The third step – and this is important – is to manage the other side of the spectrum. That means to detach from the best-case scenario. I know that sounds odd, but it is the best-case scenario that creates expectations and it is from expectations that fear and stress arises. It’s the fear our expectations won’t be met.
As Jessica Lange says, “when you learn not to want things so badly, life comes to you.”
So again, from a place where we are strong in your core, detach from the best-case scenario. Maybe it’s finishing the project on time, getting a raise and a promotion and buying a new car with your new salary. What ever it is, become neutral to the idea of it happening. It’s great if it does, but it’s ok if it doesn’t.
With these three simple steps, you are neutral and can now act as opposed to react to the situation. With your stress reaction neutralized, you might even find you get the project done and spend time with friends.
So the next time you are faced with one of those outside stressors, use this simple exercise to neutralize your response. And please share with us how you neutralize stress.