22 Mar Squash Stress 3: Know your SELF, especially your fears
One of the best ways to arm yourself against the threat of stress is to know who you are!
Part of knowing who you are is knowing what makes you feel vulnerable (meaning exposed or unsafe). Knowing what makes you vulnerable means knowing what you fear and why. Figuring out the “why” is called “digging deeper” and we are challenging you to get out the shovel when you begin to feel some stress. You can learn a whole lot more about digging deeper and connecting the past to your present in the post Your Past.
When you recognize that you are feeling stressed, ask yourself: Why do I feel stressed? Your answer might be something like: Well, I am afraid I am going to fail my math test. So now that you have named the source of your stress, grab the shovel and try to dig a bit deeper: Why does that cause you stress? What do you imagine are the consequences of failing the test? Keep digging!
In our math test example, you might think to your self: If I fail my test, my parents will be really, really angry with me. Yes. They may be, so go a little deeper/further. What happens if they are really, really angry with you? Well, they might punish me and I’ll be stuck in my room for a month. OK. What happens if you are stuck in your room for a month? Well, I won’t get to be with my friends and they will think I am a loser, and then I will be alone. OK. Now you are getting to the “why” of the situation for you. You are ultimately afraid that you will lose social contact and be viewed negatively by your friends.
Someone else’s self-questioning might go down a different path like this: Well, I am afraid my parents will be really, really angry and if they are really, really angry they might think less of me and not love me as much as before. That’s a different “why.” You fear loss of your friends in the first example while your friend fears loss of his parents’ love. As a result, your friend will need to deal with those fears differently.
To deal with your stress and fear, you might think to yourself, My good friends will never forget about me, whereas your friend might need to think, My parents will love me no matter what even if they are angry with me.
When you dig deep, you are attempting to reach the “worst case scenario” type of thoughts. These are called your base fears. If you start to deal with the worst case scenario and realize that it is not so bad, or really that it actually is very unlikely to happen, then you begin to decrease the stress. Getting to know your fears is part of understanding who you are. The more you understand who you are, the more you can squash stress.
Ultimately, this is a lot like putting things in perspective, which you read about already.
Think of the last time you were stressed because of some kind of fear you had. Take out your thought-shovel and begin to dig. What did you come up with as the “base” fear? Please share.