An Alternative View of Stress

My friend, colleague, and client Ron FitzGerald shared his thoughts on stress after reading my I know all about stressed its ‘DESSERTS’ spell backwards!!! post.

Are you ready for the definition of personal STRESS?  Here it is…   Personal stress is caused by not knowing what to do in a given situation.  That is all.  There is nothing more to it.  Simple, isn’t it?

You may believe you know what the right thing to do is, you may believe you know what the socially acceptable thing is, and you may believe that you know the easiest thing to do, but, you sometimes fight within yourself to know “what do I do now?”

Decisions, decisions… how you determine between the “easiest”, the “right”, and the “acceptable” is what creates stress.   Learning to make decisions of this nature easier to decide will lessen your stress.

We all want to believe we will do the “right” thing every time… But that is a very simplistic view point and not actually realistic.   What is “right”?   Does being right mean the same as being legal?   Does being right mean acting in accordance to one’s own faith?  Does being right mean doing something which may be harmful to another person?  Now I don’t want to sound like a lawyer, in fact I’d like to keep this as simple as possible, but still explore the reality behind the decision, in real people words.

You have to ask yourself a few questions in order to make good low stress decisions.

  1. Is this really my decision to make?   If not, then put it out of your mind, do not deny someone else the choice opportunity to deal with the situation on their own.
  2. Do I have enough information to make this decision?  If not, then make the inquiries necessary, or schedule yourself to deal with this situation once all the information is at hand, but don’t try to deal with it unless you have all the info. Clear it from your mind until you have the info to deal with it properly.
  3. WHAT ARE MY PRIORITIES? What is my most desired outcome from this decision?    If you cannot state in simple terms what you want the best outcome to be, then perhaps it’s not your decision to make, or perhaps you do not have enough information.  (See steps 2 or 3 above)

You didn’t think it was going to be that easy did you?  Now we throw in the mother of all monkey wrenches.  What if you have got to make a decision RIGHT NOW?  LACK OF TIME is the force multiplier for creating stress.

Sometimes you do not have the time to go get more information, you do not have the time to sit and learn all the points about all the variables.  What then?  Here’s a secret…   the best decisions are those decisions which keep doors open, never close an option unless you must.  Don’t dither, don’t dodge it, make a solid decision, but try to keep other options in view.  Not all of our decisions are going to be right, face it; you will make an occasional mistake.  It’s a nice stress reliever to know that if needed, you can step back, click your heels, and head out on another path.  One more thing.. once you’ve made a decision, and things are moving along.. PUT IT BEHIND YOU.  Unless there is strong reason to go back and recheck other options, MOVE ALONG to other fun stuff.

Let’s recap.

  1. Stress is brought about by having to make decisions, on our own issues, or those thrust upon us.
  2. Learn to know what is RIGHT in a given situation. Learn to easily determine 3 things:  A) Is it my decision to make, B) do you have enough info?  C) What are my priorities? What is the best outcome?
  3. TIME!!  Don’t dodge.  Don’t fudge.  Make a real decision, but… keep 2nd and 3rd, etc… options open if you can. You will make a mistake now and then, nice to be able to correct them.
  4. Once it’s done, Move along.

I hope this helps.


2 thoughts on “An Alternative View of Stress

  1. There has been some work around emotional intelligence and stress. Also stress is the result of being reactive instead of proactive. By having a written plan of action can help reduce stress as well.

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