4A Lesson - Understanding and Accepting Healthy Stress
To improve our emotional intelligence, we must sometimes accept enduring healthy stress. Not unlike the worthiness of a mother’s labor pains, yet rarely so agonizing, we endure healthy stress to champion healthy outcomes as well as refrain from overindulgent urges or other unhealthy actions of consequence.
In this lesson, we will identify several healthy causes that require enduring stress and list reasons why people can too easily avoid these situations. We will provide dynamic activities and materials to help you cushion, yet endure healthy stress.
Disclaimer: IMPORTANT PRECAUTIONS
Please understand that this program is not intended and should not be considered a substitute for psychological therapy. The information and activities presented here will help students learn more about their minds, both emotionally and functionally. Participating in such an introspection, however, also risks exposure to subtle weaknesses and ineptitudes we may be unaware of about ourselves.
Because of this risk, if any of the following conditions apply or other questionable circumstances exist, please consult with your physician or a therapist prior to beginning the introspective activities of this group of lessons. These conditions include, but are not limited to the following:
If you are taking medication for emotional problems
If you are severely depressed, suffering from severe anxiety and/or are having suicidal thoughts
If you are suffering a serious or chronic physical illness
If you are experiencing physical, mental, or sexual abuse
If you have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, such as an obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic, post-traumatic stress, or eating disorder
If you are dealing with a drug, alcohol or other behavioral addiction
If you have been diagnosed with a major mental disorder or illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic-depression)
These conditions certainly don’t mean that you shouldn’t perform these activities. Performing them in conjunction with therapy and/or medication for emotional issues may contribute toward improvement.
EII also suggests that if you have any of the above conditions or any other unusual circumstances, the attending doctor or counselor should be consulted periodically throughout your self-monitoring investigation.
It Takes Conscious Endeavor to Develop Healthier Command of the Mind
Henry David Thoreau, American author, poet, and philosopher was quoted as saying “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”
To improve your EQ in this lesson, we shall show you how you can develop healthier command of your mind by conscious endeavor. You will be examining the ways in which you deal with healthy stress.
In Lesson 3B, we revisited the classic childhood story of The Three Little Pigs. The engineering-minded pig endured healthy stress, consciously acknowledging the need to ward off problems. By accepting the extra time and work required to build a brick house rather than one of straw or twigs, he reaped great rewards. His choice saved his life!
The engineering-minded pig pressed on, even though the other two pigs quickly finished building their straw and twig houses and then partied. While he continued working, they sang, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” about their most fearful threat. Yet, when the wolf attacked, the engineering-minded pig’s well-built house withstood the wolf’s strength and power—and the other two pigs’ houses did not.
By understanding the engineering-minded thinking that the harder working pig exhibited, we can see the value of accepting healthy stress.
In life, the endurance of healthy pain is an integral part of our psychological growth process. It helps strengthen and further develop our psychological thought-processing senses—our sensibilities. The choice of enduring healthy stress versus avoiding it shows up in many opposing yet relative choices in our lives. We have a more natural susceptibility toward what is easy to learn not hard, simple rather than more complex to resolve, frivolous vs. honorable to pursue, comfortable vs. empowering to accomplish, and actions that are self-centered vs. harmoniously balanced.
Distinguishing a value to painfully depressing feelings can be difficult to differentiate. No matter whether we’re dealing with healthy stress that we would simply rather avoid or an issue that is one of legitimate frustration or tragedy, the pain can be the same. Our minds do not always automatically distinguish the differences between seriously needing to reduce stress of, say, anger, sadness, or overwhelm, and seriously needing to embrace stress, as with bittersweet endeavors with healthy results to gain. Even something as simple as a minor cut, physically, can be quite painful to us, emotionally. Whatever the case, we need to follow a healthy prescription to heal.
By consciously focusing on our reactions to stress, we can examine whether we’re dealing with justifiable stress and work to reduce it, or if we are in the midst of healthy stress that we should work to endure. When we learn to identify healthy stress, we can start learning to consciously apply the right reactive prescription, rather than reacting naturally and inappropriately.
Without proper understanding and an emotional prescription, we remain inadequately prepared to accept healthy stress. We are susceptible, by nature, to avoid rather than have any interest in enduring stress, even if it is for healthy reasons. To concern ourselves with the consequences, we have to strengthen our psychological senses.
Physically, we have foods, medications, and specific therapies that can help keep us well and heal our bodies. Emotionally, we have healthy food for thought (wisdom], prescribed basic education, and specific therapeutic treatments that can have psychological healing effects on our minds and help keep us emotionally healthy. A deficiency of healthy ingredients in our diets and/or our thinking can similarly endanger our well-being. Also, similar to overexerting exercise, we can overexert exercising healthy stress.
Behaviorally, we learn written and unwritten laws that govern civilized living and help us develop healthier minds. We come to understand rules and guidelines through subjects such as health, safety, security, ethics, and diplomacy as well as both meaningful communications and spiritual ideals. We accept rules that are important to keep our jobs. Learning to accept such responsible behavior is sometimes stress-free and sometimes requires sacrifice.
Throughout childhood and especially as teenagers, we are susceptible to stress from healthy parental discipline requirements and perhaps even a few unhealthy ones. Simply put, parenting ourselves, as adults, has similar healthy requirements. The difference is coaching and overseeing quality behavior, including the consistency and follow-through that parents employ, which helps us avoid consequences.
In order to have a well-rounded life, it is critical to cautiously pay attention to important, yet sometimes stressful, do’s and don’ts that improve our emotional stability and harmony with our outside world. The more emotionally advanced functions we want to apply, the more dynamics there are to understand and rules to follow.
To improve our emotional intelligence, thus, sometimes requires that we accept improving our endurance to healthy stress. Not unlike the worthiness of a mother’s labor pains, yet rarely as agonizing, enduring healthy stress is sometimes necessary to champion healthy outcomes and refrain from overindulgent urges. It’s about defining how casually or seriously we take responsibility for self-care. Accepting healthy stress requires us to become more honest with ourselves to help further develop healthy disciplines and responsible behavior that can change us for the better.
Emotions are the Gateway to How We Process Our Thinking
Researchers now know that emotions are the gateway to how we process our thinking. Learning how to make smarter choices thus requires learning how to manage the emotions involved. Accepting healthy stress can be a matter of learning how to find incentives within our thought processing to endure stress, teaching us to find ways to calm our temperament and build emotional stamina. As we build our acceptance of healthy stress to better direct our emotions, it can help us improve any and every area of our lives where we will apply it.
The following two lists will help you better understand the kinds of issues that require accepting healthy stress and the reasons why we avoid it. Please add other smart choices and reasons that you are aware of in your own life, yet are not listed. Review these lists frequently, until familiar:
Evolution has shown us that our lives can become more comfortable, safer, efficient, and meaningful, the more helpful products, services, and treatments we have for what ails us, as well as better methodologies and formulas we have to do things.
We learn that we can have basically a more comfortable life, when we do this and don’t do that and have this not that. Now we know that we can have a more comfort-balanced, safer and more meaningful life if we follow a different scope of do’s and don’ts, have and have-nots. To build a more comfort-balanced, safer and more meaningful life, we need to understand a lot about the helpful and harmful reactions to emotions.
You’ve Strengthened Your Emotional Compass
So far in this program, you have been learning valuable lessons about the human mind in general, as well as ways to get to know your own mind better. You have learned that our minds control virtually everything that we do, but in order to pursue healthier endeavors, we need to get our minds to cooperate emotionally. You have learned different kinds of activities that can further self-understanding that is otherwise not evident. You have hopefully been performing these activities to increase your self-awareness and improve your EQ.
Thanks to reading the book, “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ”, you have a more educated understanding of the concept. By reading “The Sociopath Next Door”, you should understand how a person’s ill behavior could cause others to stress and drive them to seek counseling. By doing all this, you should recognize by now that there is specific knowledge to learn and techniques to apply in order to develop a clearer sense of self, psychologically.
We have been teaching you how to apply a more meaningful approach to your own thinking and behavior, as well as how you can deal with other’s ill behavior. Thus, we have been teaching you how to strengthen your “emotional compass”, so to speak, to direct your life in more meaningful, fulfilling ways.
Your emotional compass helps you define what you must go through in order to get to a more emotionally empowered position. The more accurate our emotional compass is and the more it is followed, the more it can help us avoid unnecessary rough terrain. Unfortunately, without building a healthy compass, we can more easily steer ourselves in the wrong direction without realizing it, especially when dealing with stress.
Further Developing a Healthy Compass
In this group of lessons about stress and the activities, you will learn how to navigate your mind through necessary rough terrain with less stress.
Sometimes, we just need something similar to a first aid kit in order to deal with stress. With the right supplies in our emotional first aid kit, we’re able to quickly repair and recover from our minor emotional wounds. Yet there are some situations that need a counselor’s educated assistance, or are downright emergency room worthy, psychologically speaking.
Emotions can too easily distort the quality of our judgments when we are dealing with situations that cause stress to them. Our susceptibility to avoid healthy stress is an obstacle that can disorient our emotional compass and leave us limp. Avoiding healthy stress can endanger our well-being and cripple our potential. The following super-human tale profoundly defines the importance of understanding our obstacles, the subject of lesson 4A1.
Most of us are familiar with the fictitious comic strip/movie character, Superman®, known for his super-human strength, senses and abilities. He is also known for losing his strength to an obstacle called “kryptonite”, a rock-like substance that cripples his powers when he is exposed to it. Kryptonite is extremely endangering to his well-being.
For Superman’s ® protection, it is important for him to understand what kryptonite is, what it looks like, what it can do to him, where it is most predominantly found, and how to avoid it. It is no less important for us to have a similar understanding about the obstacles that we have in our lives.
Unfortunately, in our real lives as humans, our obstacles encompass a lot more than just a single crippling substance like kryptonite. We have a variety of obstacles that reduce our ability to protect ourselves, leaving us unable to do things in the best way or most healthy manner. These obstacles cause us security problems, internal self-governing problems, as well as an array of other problem issues throughout our lives. In lesson 4A1, you will learn more about these obstacles and how to better identify and manage them in your own life.
Let’s look at an opposite scenario from Superman®, the obstacles of an animal in the wild dealing with healthy stress. We know that a wild animal must be sedated or at least muzzled in order to approach it just to remove a splinter or we risk being attacked. We know that an animal doesn’t trust that we are being helpful or that we know what we are doing. It doesn’t understand that pressure and pain must first increase, as the splinter is being removed in order to heal the wound. We know that in the wild, if left unattended, even a splinter can be infected and weaken the creature’s response to danger and thus, become life threatening very quickly.
As the most highly evolved creatures on the planet, challenging our natural emotional reactions can still perpetuate stress. To work our way through healthy stress, we must apply the engineering kind of thinking that we spoke of earlier. Learning to deal with stress in healthy ways can require further developing emotional intelligence and power to control our animal nature emotionally. How many situations in our own lives act as examples of how we reacted in a more primitive and animalistic way, rather than applying our emotional intellect and accepting even mild pressure to work our way through healthy stress?
Please take a few minutes to look at the list below of potential consequences for not enduring healthy stress. Make a copy and add other potential consequences that you recognize in your own life. Remember that it is important to be honest with yourself in order to recognize these potential problems realistically.
Making It Easier to Endure Healthy Stress
As with other creatures, it’s easy for our nervous system to get overstressed or overexcited inappropriately. As humans, it’s what we can empower ourselves to do with these feelings intelligently that helps make us so different, emotionally! Whether it is accepting mild stress or dealing with an outright Kryptonite kind of stress, there are healthy treatments that we can apply in order to reduce inappropriate self-talk and ill feelings that often come to mind too easily. There are appropriate and powerful things that we can learn to say to ourselves and do to calm our temperament, which give us incredible strength and advantage.
To help you endure healthy stress, we are providing you with a list of healthy self-talk statements. They are examples of powerful things that we can learn to say in order to calm ourselves and deal with our weaker and more stressful moments in healthier ways. This list is an excerpt from our dynamic self-talk handbook of over 250 empowering questions and comments. We will begin selling the handbook on this site when we bring Lesson 4A2 online.
In lesson 4A2, you will learn several symptoms of inappropriate self-talk. We all have key moments when we are dealing with stress that require us to either stop and retreat or assertively move forward. Our problem may be that we can too easily ignore either option because we prefer to avoid the pain and/or don’t have an adequate vocabulary of healthy self-talk phrases to direct us more appropriately.
Stress can, no doubt, influence our direction in too many inappropriate ways. It easily distorts how we prioritize what we will do and not do. In lesson 4A3, you will learn about engineering priorities with emotional intelligence in mind. Without such concern, we can too easily miss or ignore adding something emotionally intelligent to our list of to-do’s—or neglect to place something important at the top of our list—even when avoiding it could lead to more serious stress. Without considering the appropriateness of our prioritization, we can do things that we don’t necessarily need to do right away, but we do them because they are less stressful than other “to do’s,” some of which might need immediate attention. Lesson 4A3 will include helpful suggestions and questions to ask yourself in order to clarify your priorities more clearly and smartly.
Building an Allegiance toward Our Health and Well-Being
Learning to accept healthy stress is part of our allegiance to our health and well-being. It can reflect how seriously we take responsibility to parent ourselves and, thus, take care of ourselves. Lesson 4A4 will address how we can learn to apply healthy stress to improve our fitness of mind and body.
By better understanding the positive impact of healthy stress and learning valuable things about stress in general, we can learn to reduce stress in healthier ways. As mentioned earlier, we know that emotions are the gateway to how we process our thinking. Learning how to better direct our emotions when dealing with healthy stress can empower us in every area of our lives, where we will apply it.
Granted, leading ourselves into emotional suffering is not a chief motivator for many of us, even if the suffering ultimately leads to healthier command of the mind. If emotions have been unknowingly running wild within us, it can take equivalent to going to war within ourselves to overrule the tyranny of our unmanaged emotions. To alter an unhealthy habitual course can be equivalent to pulling ourselves out of a slow, diving tailspin. Yet, the absolute wonders of the human mind include such courageous efforts and accomplishments.
Why is it that, when left to our emotions, we are more apt to avoid the pain of an effort to succeed and instead easily accept the anguish of defeat? Could it just be a matter of not going through the healthy learning process that teaches us how to reduce stress in healthy ways?
As mentioned in Lesson 1B (Important Learning Reminders), the learning process of any subject requires instructors or program coordinators to plan how to present information; there is content to consider and in order to present it, there are valuable techniques, necessary exercises and activities to practice and time to devote—all of which are critical to coach students’ learning. We have considered all of this when presenting information to you, thus far.
In order to apply knowledge appropriately to the students’ minds, instructors help them define what is critical to over learn and memorize, what information they need to be familiar with, and what information is okay for a student to just learn about. With a good formula, a student has a better chance to learn a subject well.
Akin to learning language or arithmetic, we may not realize or even take for granted how much time we devoted to the learning process in order to spontaneously communicate and calculate. Similarly, to learn to improve your emotional intelligence and apply new knowledge more spontaneously, you will need to go through the process of memorization and becoming familiar with important aspects of these lessons, not just read the information presented and perform the activities that we have directed you to do thus far.
Please note that we will be providing you with a structured activity at the end of “Dealing with Stress in Healthy Ways” to clarify what we consider important to memorize and become more familiar with of these first four sections of lessons. This particular activity will unfortunately require the healthy stress of STUDYING and MEMORIZATION.
You are now adequately prepared for the dynamic activities of this lesson designed to help you cushion, yet endure healthy stress.
New or additional questions to ask yourself, daily:
1. What did I say to myself today that allowed me to react naturally to emotions, rather than with emotional intelligence?
Sometimes our natural reactions to emotions can intrude on our better judgments. We can make self-defeating choices just because we are on a strong roll, so to speak, with ill natured self-talk. By noting our inappropriate comments, we can learn to practice counter comments that will help us change behavior. Then, we have a better chance to stop and evaluate our emotions with honestly and caution—and take more appropriate action.
2. How did I stretch my endurance of healthy stress, today?
By carrying this question with us in our minds throughout a day, the mere suggestion that we note how we stretch our endurance can stimulate such happenings. Intellectually, it becomes more evident and perhaps even a quest, making it more important to stretch our endurance. Try to stretch your endurance to healthy stress, at least once each day and more if possible, as you progress.
Sometimes it is the thought of the stress we expect to have that causes us to avoid doing certain things. This question requires that you experience the difficulty and/or pain of at least one more healthy option than you normally would each day to actually measure the level of stress involved to do so.