Interpretation is the first line of defense. If you can take stress down at this stage then you can avoid the emotional toll it takes on your body. When you master interpretation you don’t get the uncomfortable sensations that stress brings. Mastering this can be huge.
I learned an immensely powerful way to interpret stress during my college years in psychology. Health psychologists have come up with an appraisal or evaluative process that most people go through either consciously or unconsciously when faced with stressful situations. We ask two questions whether we know it or not. The first question we ask ourselves is.
1. Do I like this?
Life is going to be full of events and circumstances that we don’t like. Unfortunately that is the truth but that does not mean that we have to be stressed by it all. You see most people equate not liking something to being stressed. “I don’t like that I have to go to the doctor so I must be stressed.” “I don’t like how I am not appreciated at work so I must be stressed.”
Most likely this is not going on consciously but this is their rule for being stressed that means every time they encounter something they dislike they are stressed. Their rule for being stressed is so general that they allow themselves to be stressed quite frequently. However, there is a second question in the appraisal process and that is…
2. Can I handle this?
Ah now that is a whole different story. There are going to be tons of things we don’t like in life but how many of those things can we actually handle? Quite a few if were honest with ourselves.
Think about the difference for a second. “Sure I don’t like going to the doctor but I will get through it and handle it”. “I don’t like the pressure I am under at work but I can handle it and get through it” Now it doesn’t seem quite overwhelming does it?
And I do not mean solve. Sometimes handling a problem is accepting that we have done all we can. Sometimes it means surrendering to the situation. That is okay to do at times.
“Can I handle it?” is a question that really makes us come to grips with the situation at hand.
Note: What has not being in control over your emotions cost you? What has stress cost you in terms of productivity, happiness, relationships, seizing opportunity, and overall well-being? What would happen if you could master your emotional states?
This would mean more balance, energy, vitality, and clarity for your life.