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Stress and Collapsing Categories

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Stress and Collapsing Categories

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If stress is the great equalizer, then collapsing your life categories is a time-tested way to make sure you'll walk away with your fair share. It works with amazing consistency!

Let's clarify. Collapsing your categories means that in your mind, you have two activities or concepts hooked together when they wouldn’t necessarily have to occur that way. Because of the link-up that's been created in your mind, you're reluctant to explore any necessary or desirable change to the first piece, for fear of what it will mean to the second.

The "collapse" has the potential to keep you stuck, cause you to miss opportunities, and generally wreak havoc with your life. In other words, to create a huge amount of stress. On the other hand, if you were to recognize the two activities or concepts as distinct, you could move ahead and explore some new options. You’d be free to resolve the stress.

Let's explore a couple of examples:

  1. You incorrectly hook up becoming aware of something with being obligated to act on what you know. Imagine if you were really required to act each and every time you notice the possibility for something to change. Wow! Your life would be chaotic!

On the other hand, imagine if you couldn't recognize something obvious going on in your life until you were ready to act on the new information. You'd be stuck for sure. This is the specific situation we're talking about, and it's responsible for a whole lot of stonewalled awareness. The person isn't sure they're ready to take a particular next step in their life. So to avoid the internal conflict of knowing and not acting, the person pretends they don't know.

Truth is, though, once a situation is recognized, there are often any number of ways to address it. Some of them might even ultimately work out for the better! The "un-link" is to say, for example, "Yes, I see that my spouse and I are having some problems. Let me think about that for a bit." You’re really not obligated to file for divorce at the first recognition of a challenge.

  1. You like "a" but reject "b" – and they appear to occur together. You feel stuck. You want "a" but not "b." You want the job you love, but not the puny paycheck that goes with it. You want that adorable new puppy your friends are trying to adopt out, but don’t want to have to find a sitter for him when you go away for the weekend.

It feels awful to be stuck in this situation, because you think you've got to give up one thing you want to get something else. It seems like a no-win.

But hang on a minute. How else could you resolve the conflict? Could you find a second income source and keep the great job? Could you get a better paying job and find fulfillment in a hobby? Would your friends be willing to God-parent little Fido?

The bigger issue here is becoming willing to question your assumptions. When you hear yourself explaining (even in your own mind) why you can't have what you want, stop and ask why not. Then see if you find a way around the obstacle. Sometimes, you really can have your cake and eat it too.

Healthy living expert Elizabeth Eckert encourages people to banish energy-zapping life stress by tuning in to inner guidance. Find the hidden stress in your life and learn strategies to resolve it at its source in the audio/e-book Stress In The Background: How to Thrive in a High Stress World.


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