Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are you a stress seeker without realizing?

It is said that everyone purposefully adds some stress to their life. Whether it is their conscious or their subconscious that direct the stress and drama to their lives, virtually everyone knowingly does something that causes them a type of pressure.

I know some people get a rush when they are under extreme pressure or anxiety. They are almost fueled by the drama around them, but I’m sure many of us would disagree with this notion, including myself. I’m someone who likes to keep things stress free. I don’t feel I seek drama, and I’m generally a very calm and relaxed person, so the idea of actually putting stress in my life seemed silly. But I was curious to find out if perhaps I do.

I started looking at my life and the lives around me noting moments of stress in people’s lives and put them into 3 categories.

1. Relationship stress. This is not exclusive to dating or marriage relationships, friendships and even collaborative pairings are included in this category. If you deliberately keep a person in your life that causes you stress and set about drama in your life you are among the stress seekers.

The fact is, no relationship, partnership, friendship has to be permanent. You have the choice and the power to leave, but something in you is choosing not to.

This doesn’t mean you like being stressed out by the people around you, but you’re not motivated enough to walk away. For some reason you’d rather stay with the drama then cut ties.

 This also applies to bringing new people into life. If every guy or girl you’ve dated has been over dramatic, or if your friends always seem to have bad news to tell you, you are in part playing a role. Subconsciously, you are finding and bringing these people into your life. It could be a need to help people and feel needed, perhaps you too are over dramatic, there are many reasons but there is a role you are playing in it all.

2. Financial stress. Never seem to have enough money in the bank? Do you find yourself worrying if you’re going be able to make that next bill payment? Money, like relationships is something that causes all of us some stress on some level. It’s not something we can completely control. But if you have no control over your spending, you are deliberately causing yourself stress. 

You can choose to walk in and out of a store without buying something; you can opt for a less expensive item. But if you are spending, and then worrying, you are knowingly bringing stress into your life. You may feel pressure to keep up with society; you may feel in control of things when you’re shopping regardless of the negative impact it will later have or you may be among the few whom, the more they spend the more motivated they are to work hard to make the money back. Somehow the nights spent awake worrying about your finances is caused by you.

3. Personal stress. This category could be broken up into little categories:  health, work, emotional illness, school, goals etc. We all experience some stress internally. But how much you experience could be a case of how much you are causing, not others.

 If you choose not to take active measures to improve your health, you’re to blame for its decline. This is something most of us agree on, but it also applies if you obsess over your health, or any aspect of your life. If you use working out as your main escape, you are in a sense causing yourself future stress, because suppose you can’t work out, how will you cope then?

Another example is people who take on too much. This could be the employee who overworks themselves, the student who takes on too many classes or extracurricular activities, the self help addict who is always nitpicking at themselves looking for more ways to improve and become perfect. 

Personal stress usually has a beneficial motive, if you work hard at your job, you’re more likely to get a promotion, make more money, provide for your family better—it all seems logical. But when this need to do and be better consumes you to the point where it is all you focus on, and find yourself feeling down on yourself when you don’t achieve more, you’re making your life more dramatic than it needs to be.

Some personal stress can be advantageous, as it is motivating to want to add a little pressure to yourself to try your best. However, to set unrealistic goals, or push yourself to someone else’s standards can and does have very negative consequences.

So which category did I find myself in? Shockingly, all of the above! In all aspects of my life I found myself causing myself unnecessary stress, despite the willingness to avoid it.

 I find myself keeping people in my life who emotionally bog me down for far longer than I should. Because I don’t like confrontation I often don’t speak up when someone hurts me.

When it comes to my finances, I try my hardest to save, but I don’t always go out of my way to find a cheaper alternative. It would be much easier to research and save then spend and complain.

In my personal goal life, I sometimes add too much to my plate. I’ll tackle too many projects, not putting my full focus on just one. This could stem from boredom with repetitive tasks or a fear that I may not get a chance to do everything I desire in life, so I mistakenly try to do it all at once.

Is this stress harmful? Maybe not to the point of destruction, I still have very good relationships with the people in my life, money in the bank and I can tell myself when to slow it down. But it does cause an unnecessary stress that I bring onto myself. 

Look into your life and see if you can pinpoint where and how you’re making your life more stressful than it should be.

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