News for March 2013

Stress and Emotional Regulation

Have you ever noticed that the more stress in a person’s life the more prone they are to strong emotional reactions? I do not mean just amongst those of us who already face challenges with staying emotionally regulated, but any random person in the world.

That is not mere coincidence, there is a direct relationship between the two. Stress takes a large toll on a person, both physically and emotionally. It has been linked to a large number of health problems. It “eats up” valuable and limited resources that the body has to deal with other things.

A lot of our stress maps back to not having control over something. One example is when you need to have something done by a deadline, but you cannot get it done because you are waiting in someone else to contribute something. There is only so much you can do and after you have exhausted all those options, all you can do is wait. Since things are running late and you cannot do anything you get stressed.

Another popular cause of stress is when you are overwhelmed and being pulled in too many directions at once. The more people that want something from you, the more things you have to try to juggle. The more things you have to juggle, the less time you have available to do any of it.

There are volumes of books, papers, seminars and videos that tell you how to combat stress and make your life easier. For me, two of biggest ways to combat stress are, distract myself from what is causing the stress and accept that I am doing everything possible to get the result I want.

Distraction techniques work very well and there are an unlimited number of things you can do to distract yourself. I find getting outside and enjoying nature to be very relaxing, playing various types of video games, photography and getting lost in my thoughts on enjoyable topics to be very helpful.

Some of the thoughts I get lost in are pure fantasy in nature, for example, planning universal conquest and domination. Others are me philosophical and intellectual in nature. An example of these kinds of ideas are multiverses,  infinite dimensions and pondering if time is a “real” dimension or just an abstract concept man created to better understand their surroundings. I also enjoy more practical mental exercises like looking for patterns in numbers or calculating square roots in my head.

One great thing about distraction techniques is that there are plenty of them that are free and do not require anything but yourself. They do not need to make sense to anyone else, they just need to work for you.

Edited: March 23rd, 2013

You Cannot Solve Everyone’s Problems

“You cannot solve everyone’s problems”. When you hear this it seems obvious; however, it was one of the more difficult concepts for me to “get through my thick head”.

For years people, I mean just about anyone who knew me, would tell me it over and over. I would nod my head and swear I knew. Then the next time, sometimes with the next breath, I was back to trying to solve someone’s problem. I am sure that more than one person wanted to just grab me and shake me until I finally got it. Thank goodness they had more self-control of their impulses than I did.

I have been told that I am an empath.  Along with that is the fact that my personality type is the ‘rescuer/hero/protector’ personality type.

I went to absurd levels of thinking I could solve everyone’s problems. For example, one time my friend was at risk of losing their home and because I couldn’t “fix it” for them, I felt like I had failed.

Another time I went so far as to pray to be allowed to take any suffering that was intended for another person so they could have a happy life. It was someone who I wanted to be with, but couldn’t. Since I couldn’t be there with them to care for them and protect them, I wanted to take their pain. It was the last thing I could do to try to help them.

It wasn’t until I learned and got a handle on radical acceptance that I was able to finally break this habit. Radical acceptance finally let me comprehend one very important fact. The fact that there are things I just cannot ‘fix’, there are things beyond my control.

It was radical acceptance that helped me learn to put up boundaries. I still have to remind myself at times that I cannot solve everyone’s problems for them. I remind myself it is not just OK to want to help, that it is a good thing, but that I cannot solve everyone’s problems.

Two other key discoveries came out of this understanding. The first, if the problem does not get resolved, it is not my failure. It is simply something outside of my control, and that is OK. I cannot control everything.

The other important thing was that even though I want to help, I cannot take responsibility for another person’s problems. I can help them with their problems, but I cannot own their problems. 

What made this constant mindset of having to solve everyone’s problems  dangerous for me was that I would always try to solve everyone else’s problems while ignoring my own. I would neglect and bury my problems. I can assure you, that is not a healthy thing to do.

Edited: March 10th, 2013

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