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When Stress Gets Personal

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Stress. Everybody has it. But nobody has it quite like you.

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We talk a lot about stress around here. Why? Because it's something that just about everyone can relate to. We're all bugged by it. We know it's not good for us. And we wish it would just go away.

What causes your stress?

  • Your spouse
  • Your kids
  • Your job


No. Not if you've been doing your reading. You're smarter than that. You know that stress comes from your reactions to those things.

How you respond to your boss is different from how your co-worker does. Which is different from how your boss responds to his or her spouse. And how your kids respond to you. (Yes, you're a stress-maker for your kids!)

"Stress" is generic. But your stress is personal.

And it's the personal level that gets us in trouble.

John was stuck in a marriage that didn't work. Yet he respected his wedding vows. He faced a horrible dilemma — forced to choose between his inner responsibility for self-protection and his community responsibility to his vows. To abandon those vows would have meant breaking his word. And John prided himself on being a man of his word.

His stress came from an inner conflict. He couldn't choose. John was pre-occupied, distressed, and vulnerable. He became involved in a series of car accidents which left him disabled.

Carrie received inappropriate attention from a male relative when she was just a little girl. When she finally told her mom, a major rift in the family followed. And everyone blamed her. Later, she found it difficult to stand up for herself. Instead of learning to gracefully say "no," she agreed to everything.

Her stress came from an conflict between her inner responsibility to protect herself and her fear of the consequences if she did. Carrie was exhausted! Her body finally made her listen up and learn new skills. Had she not paid attention, she most likely would have encountered an even more serious health problem.

[Good news — Carrie the grown-up is one sharp lady!]

Pete was the last person you'd go to when it came to making a choice about his life. Ask his boss, his wife, or his parents what he wanted, however, and they'd let you know. In no uncertain terms. Pete felt powerless. One day, Pete made a bold choice of his own. He began an extra-marital affair. But now he felt guilty.

Pete's initial stress came from a conflict between his inner responsibility to set the course for his own life and his desire to do what he'd been told was right. Then he added even more stress. The second conflict existed between his marital commitment and his desire to choose something special for his life — himself. Pete developed prostate cancer.

Ronnie hurt all over. Hips, neck, back, headache. She dragged through the day every day. She was tired. Sore. Just getting up in the morning was a challenge.

It was no wonder to look at her. Her body wasn't doing her any favors — in fact, her body therapist was quick to notice her head-forward posture, rounded shoulders, and collapsed chest. Ronnie also had hair-trigger emotions that would betray her quickly. And that was causing trouble at work.

The body therapist encouraged her to stand tall, taking pressure off the neck and back muscles that caused her pain.

"It's hard to stand tall when you feel beaten down by life," Ronnie responded.

No amount of body therapy was going to resolve Ronnie's perception that she lived in a dangerous and cruel world where life was an uphill climb. That stress pattern was the core issue behind the collapsed body posture that caused her physical pain. And Ronnie didn't have the energy to pull herself out of it.

Stress gets personal. At the personal level, unresolved stress creates vulnerability in the body. Often, ill health will take advantage of the opportunity and slip right in.

Let me say that again. Personalized stress creates vulnerability to illness. Generic stress doesn't do it. Your body doesn't care if "people are busy." But your body cares very much if "I've got so much on my plate right now that I can't see how I can possibly manage it all!"

"People are busy" is generic.

"I don't know how I'm going to handle all this!" is personal.

See the difference?

So what kind of health vulnerabilities are we talking about?

That depends. It's personal!

In the words of Dr. Norman Shealy, "Fear, anxiety, resentment, anger, guilt, and depression block life energy. The electromagnetic deprivation of energy impacts the organ or body region with the greatest unresolved emotional distress." [1]

red checkAre you on a mission to identify and resolve stress in your life? [The personal kind.] It's a worthy pursuit. Awareness is the key. You can't address it until you can see it. This resource can help: Stress In The Background: How to Thrive in a High-Stress World.

[1] Shealy, C Norman (1999). Sacred Healing: The Curing Power of Energy and Spirituality. Boston: Element.

Elizabeth Eckert can help you explore how simple everyday choices create health - or undermine even the best of intentions. With a background that ranges from energy medicine to structural bodywork to developmental psychology, this "Stick-To-It Coach" has the experience to support you in creating the healthiest possible expression of — you!

For the latest in healthy living tips and information, subscribe to our free Healthy Living Update. Learn how you can "Transform Stress Into Power!"


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