With the abundance of self-help and self-improvement books and video’s, all the education and information on being mindful and removing the stress and negativity, it would be easy to just start cleaning house and completely getting rid of people who don’t make you feel absolute joy. However, some stress in our lives is good. In order to grow as individuals we need to be challenged. So how do we determine when the ability to grow is lost and the stress is simply just unnecessary?
I have a select few people in my life that come to mind that I originally believed were challenges put in my path to help me grow. I tried to connect more and leave myself open to their thoughts and ideas because I knew they were so vastly different from mine. I thought maybe I was missing something so I allowed myself to get involved in conversations and be challenged only to feel worse after the interaction. After some time has passed I realize that any engagement with them just leaves me feeling frustrated and exhausted and not enlightened or joyful. I realize, I do not feel I am learning or growing from the interactions, I am just walking away more stressed. It has opened my eyes even more to how important it is to create boundaries and maintain balance.
You know when you have a found a person who says things that create an Ah Ha! moment within you. These are the conversations you want to partake in because you feel like you could talk to them all night. Their approach in how they explain their thoughts are just fascinating and you are eager to pick their brain and learn more. You walk away wanting to read and research more on the topic and feel inspired and joyful instead of drained. This is how you know you are engaging with a person who is promoting positive growth.
Even some of our closest family members or coworkers will have vastly different beliefs. I have found it is best to just listen in the moment and not engage. Then I can research their words later to form my own informed opinion. In the research process we learn that either we should adjust our perspective a little (or maybe a lot) or we become more confirmed in our own beliefs, either way we are learning and growing. It is easier to come from a place of wanting to understand than a place of debate, and often we are so set in our own beliefs that we forget our original intent. If someone does not ask my opinion I have decided not to give it. This can be very hard, but if someone is spouting off their beliefs and never stopping to ask your thoughts and ideas I have found it is best to just let them talk. You learn a lot more when you listen anyway, even if it’s just that the other person is full of it.
I have also found unfollowing certain individuals on social media is in my best interest when it comes to setting boundaries. I enjoy getting on Facebook to see happy and funny things my friends post, but if I start getting an over abundance of negativity and confrontational information on my feed I will unfollow. It is a simple solution that doesn’t completely remove the person from your circle, it just cuts out the stress for you. If you don’t want to constantly see Sally’s relationship drama that you have advised her on numerous times, or Karen’s religious beliefs, or Tom’s political views or even Mandy’s cooking pics, or Gretchen’s gym pics… for whatever reason, then just unfollow. You do not have to justify your reasons with anyone just click the button and go on about your life.
The good stress is learning to listen and not say a word, learning to research it later and form an educated opinion on the subject so that when someone does stop to take time and ask your opinion you can answer intelligently and confidently. If you feel stress creeping in ask yourself if this is something worth stressing over? Is it necessary to engage in that moment? Are you stressing about something in the past or something in the future? Stressing about things you cannot control is pointless and not productive unless you plan to take action in some way. So ask yourself, in that moment when you feel your body reacting and your thoughts start to follow the stress path…Is this something I can take control of and if so, how? Take steps to tackle the problem because action is the key. Prepare yourself, if you know you are going to encounter a person who instigates stress within you at a party or gathering, then have a plan so you already know how to proceed. Preparation is a form of taking action even if your plan is to do nothing more than smile, say hello and walk-away.
Creating healthy boundaries for yourself is a great way to fight stress. We all have our own limits on different things. Maybe you are struggling with weight so hearing about someones diet or seeing gym pics is not motivational for you right now. Maybe you are strong in your faith with God and seeing posts or conversations from your atheist neighbor causes you stress. Maybe you are strong in your political beliefs and seeing the opinion of the opposing party gives you stress. Maybe you just went through a horrible break-up so seeing wedding pics or baby pics with a happy couple is just depressing for you. This doesn’t make you a bad person if you struggle in a moment to be happy for others and it doesn’t make you a closed minded person if you have done your research on certain beliefs and already know where you stand. It is okay to set boundaries tailored specifically for your personal circumstances in that that moment.
Good stress gets your blood pumping because you are being motivated or pushed to be better, learn something new or tackle a project. There should be some kind of positive outcome. Bad stress is when your blood starts pumping and you feel frustrated, angry, or just exhausted at the thought, sometimes even anxiety, dread, sadness or a sense of panic will come over you. Learn to be self aware, be gentle and honest with yourself. As you clue in to how your body reacts and the thoughts going on inside your head, you will know which kind of stress is being activated. What one person finds as good stress and bad stress may not be the same for you. Nobody knows your mind-body connection better than you do. Boundaries and balance is key in managing your stress levels so don’t be afraid to make the changes that work for you.
With love, happiness, health