What Do You Notice?
Was it the spelling mistake? Your attention’s naturally drawn to what’s not right. Unfortunately, it’s probably the same with your experience of stress - you notice the stresses which make you uncomfortable, glossing over those which give you energy instead of draining it away.
But not all stress is bad.
Our stress response evolved to get us to act, and though those action-prompting stresses might not be ones you’d have chosen, you often grow from them. The things many people find most stressful – being a parent or a leader, running their own business, or supporting someone close through tough times – are the exact same experiences which give life the most meaning. Because we only get stressed about what matters.
Trying to manage stress focuses you on the disruptive stresses, just like you focused on the mis-spelled word, skipping over all the others. Unfortunately, by focusing your attention on the problem stresses, you’re likely to notice more of them, making you feel even more stressed.
But that noticing effect can work in your favour too. The more direct your attention towards what’s working, the more of those useful stresses you’ll start to notice. It can put you back to feeling in control instead of on the ropes against whatever life’s throwing at you. So what’s already working, and what could you tweak to get even more of it?
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