Pressure: the exertion of force upon a surface by an object, fluid, etc., in contact with it: the pressure of earth against a wall. The state of being pressed or compressed.
As I ponder this morning on the amount of different paths one can take in life I believe the person that chooses to walk down the path of constant anxiety and stressful living to be one of the most destructive choices we can make and one of the worst paths we can take. Dr. Hans Selye defines stress as "the rate of wear and tear within the body." Our body's initial reaction and response to stress is to create an alarm reaction. Our internal organs mobilizes it defenses and protects the body against danger. There is so much that has been written, and so much I will not attempt to write, on the physical, and psychological, damage stress can cause in our lives.
I believe one of the best ways to combat a difficult situation is to gain a greater understanding of the situation and to increase our knowledge in any area or category of life that we are struggling in. And as we grow in awareness and knowledge it is still our responsibility to put our new found knowledge into practice.
Like I've said many times; "knowledge is the knowing, wisdom is the doing."
One of the most powerful and empowering pieces of information I've gained concerning stress was from the book "In the Realm of the Hungry Ghost". Dr. Mate pointed out three universal truths and reasons for stress in our lives.
Allow me to share.
The three universal causes for stress in one's life are uncertainty, lack of information, and a loss of control.
One of the most destructive forms of Chinese torture during war time was to provide an extremely inconsistent administration of their torture. One day a prisoner would be given food to eat, the next three days he would only be given water. Some days they would be beaten every hour only later to be left alone for a week. The Prisoners said the lack of knowing what was coming next was as destructive as the torture itself. They reiterated that this form of "torture" was as harmful emotionally, mentally and physically as the actual torture. It is often the not knowing, and the uncertainty, that will create the most mental torment and emotional anguish in our lives.
My parents have always shared with me the best way to make a good decision on something important is to gain as much information and knowledge as you can concerning a situation and then weigh your options. when we have a lack of information surrounding a certain situation we can often begin to give ourselves over to unwise thinking. We will often start to assume, over think, or worse, guess on what the proper thing to do is.
The next is a biggie because most of us, whether we want to admit it or not, are complete control freaks. A lack of control can throw the strongest of people in to a complete free fall and tailspin. This is one of the reasons why dealing with some physical disease or aliment can be so destructive emotionally and mentally in our lives. When we are sick, seriously ill, we are harshly introduced to this fact. A lot of times we really don't have as much control over things as we think we do; our health and our children are a great reminder of this truth. Remember, we are not built, nor were we created, to control everything in our lives.
The reason I have inserted pictures of South Beach in this piece is to subliminally remind all of us that a change in our perspective can be the one of the strongest and most productive pursuits when struggling, and dealing, with stress.
My perspective is often changed by a reminder of a past experience, gaining knowledge and praying and reading God's word.
As I review the three universal truths concerning stress I'm able to respond, combat and deal with stress in my life. I can ask myself questions about why I feel so stressed. Is it my lack of knowledge? Is it the fact that I'm completely uncertain of the outcome? Or is it the harsh reality that I have no control over a certain situation? Being able to go through this Q&A process is powerful to me.
This way of thinking is part of the process in relieving stress in my life.
I said part.
The other part, and the biggest part, in relieving stress is to give everything to God.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 and 16-18 shares this with us:
"8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
...16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
Change your view of things...
In the Chinese culture the word for crisis is written by combining the symbols for the word danger and opportunity. Stress is the same: both a danger and opportunity. When realize what is causing the stress, and more importantly what questions we are to ask ourselves concerning the stress, we grow and become stronger. We increase our emotional and mental IQ when this occurs in our lives.
It doesn't hurt to pray either.
Pray for wisdom concerning if this stress is a genuine threat or a golden opportunity.
Pray for increased knowledge.
Pray for peace concerning the uncertainty of the future.
And finally pray for the strength to relinquish all control and give it to the One that was intended to control the situation in the first place.
When we pray these things we will see, and feel, the pressure subside.