Am I stressed?
Great question and one I often hear from clients. I guess it’s helpful to understand what that word means in order to answer it.
Let’s start with the etymology:
Stress (noun) – ‘pressure or tension exerted on a material object (Oxford Dictionary)
and it is of course also a verb:
To stress, ‘Give particular emphasis or importance to’
We often talk about the entity, this thing which is stress, as if we can actually see and touch it. However, we can’t, it’s a concept and yet the English form of the word has developed to make it a possession. So you have it! You own it! ‘I have a lot of stress in my life’, ‘there is a lot of stress at work’ etc. As the definition says, we can think of it as something which is putting pressure or tension on us as humans. In my head, with stress as a noun, I have an image of a person hunched over with massive cartoon-like weights on their shoulders. It feels very heavy and there seems no choice. What can you see when you think of THE STRESS at work, home, school?
However, if you change the word to a verb, an action, the whole image often changes. Now I am giving a particular emphasis or importance to a situation. Let’s change the wording and see what happens to those images.
‘I have a lot of stress at home’ can change to ‘I stress at home’. (in other words, I give particular emphasis or importance to certain aspects of home).
When this word STRESS is turned into an action, it usually seems much more active, the images change completely. Going back into my particular brain, now I see images where I am wandering round my house in a cartoon fashion looking for things to tear my hair out about.
Now that the words are more active, there suddenly seems to be more choice; now I know that I am giving particular emphasis or importance to certain things, my perspective has changed.
This shift will result in a new way of problem solving. It may not solve any problems straight away but what I want for my clients is a re adjustment, a new awareness and therefore a more resourceful state from where to find new ideas to turn that stress into something else – be it a problem to solve, relating to someone, a list of chores to do. Now these things, most people easily find solutions to.
So, are you stressed or are you putting particular emphasis or importance on just one aspect of your life????