Are you feeling stressed? “Wonderful” your life coach says!
Are you surprised at this response? In our culture we are advised to “get rid of stress”, “make stress go away” and de-stress. Many respond to this message but with actions that further the stress or distract them from what is really going on in their lives. How many of your friends or family members, or perhaps even yourself de-stress with a glass of wine or two or three before dinner, through intense exercise, long hours at work or high adrenaline producing activities?
What if we shift perspective to welcoming stress as an opportunity to learn about ourselves, relationships, life patterns and balance?
When my client says that they are feeling stressed, I ask the following questions:
– is stress a daily part of your life or is it transitory?
– what does stress feel like in your body, where does it reside?
– what message is your stress giving you?
– how does stress serve you?
– how does stress not serve you?
– if you weren’t feeling stressed, how would your life be the same and different?
– being stressed allows you to do what….?
– how do you want your future to be in regards to stress?
Through the ensuing conversation clients often realize that feeling stressed is part of their life pattern and in fact in the past is has helped them accomplish projects and tasks. They usually have found that this pattern isn’t working well for them anymore due to relationship problems or observable health effects of high blood pressure, poor sleep, digestive problems and headaches for example but don’t know how to “do their life” differently.
I suggest that folks “make friends with their stress” and even give it a name. Rather than try to make the stress go away I encourage my clients to welcome it into their lives and bodies as an opportunity for learning. In doing this many folks find meaning and messages in their stress as well as find that there is a softening of the area of their body where they generally “hold” their stress. Often this process results in major life changes and in retrospect many say “thank you” to the original stress that was such a powerful trigger or a catalyst for positive life change.