Stress Management and Mastery: Practicing Perspective

Q. I wonder if you could help me with a problem that just seems to be getting worse. I seem to blow everything out of proportion. I react so strongly to even small problems and always think the worst is going to happen. My friends tell me I do it, my husband tells me, and I know I do and I'm tired of it.

A. Whether you call it blowing things out of proportion, making a mountain out of a molehill, or some other phrase, it all comes down to turning every event into a potential catastrophe. This is called catastrophism.

It's a learned response. Most people who practice catastrophism have either had it modeled for them by someone else, received a great deal of attention when they go the high drama route, or both. Sometimes the problem can even get solved, which greatly reinforces the response.

Symptoms of catastrophism

Total or near total loss of perspective on the relative importance of events.

Turning the simple into something complex.

Viewing most, if not all, problems as potentially life-threatening.

Going from 0 to 60 emotionally in response to life's challenges.

Demanding that others see the situation the same way you do.

Frustration with others when they don't see it the same as you.

Catastrophism can be a very draining experience. Going from 0 to 60 all the time wears you out.

Imagine a meter that measures from 0 to 10, with 0 as rest and 10 as the strongest possible reaction. When we are faced with a challenge, we are designed to go from rest to some number on the meter and then back down to rest. But when we make events a catastrophe, we respond by shooting up the meter and never coming back down to rest.

Fairly soon we live at an intensity level of 5 and rarely get back to rest.

Another negative consequence of catastrophism is that people begin to not take you seriously. When everything is a big deal to you, then nothing is a big deal to those around you. So, when something really is a big deal, others will think you are crying wolf.

Another consequence is people tend to shy from the intensity and drama, so again, when something is an actual crisis, nobody's around to take you seriously.

Fortunately, there are many ways to intervene in this process and get the changes you want.

Practicing perspective

The first thing I recommend is to practice some perspective. Perspective is something you either use or lose. I worked with a client whose motto in the face of challenges was "Well, they can't cook and eat me." There might be some wisdom there. While you may not want to use those exact words, telling yourself "this is just an event" can calm you down and allow you to respond more effectively.

A fun way to get a different perspective on a problem is to think of a character whom you admire in a book or movie and ask yourself "How would this person respond to this problem?"

Another practical strategy is to consider how you see the problem vs. how a video camera would see the problem.

Here's a strategy that can aid you in your perspective practice: Either write down or imagine two scales from 1 to 10, with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest. The first scale measures the importance of the event; the second scale measures your response to the event.

I'm betting you have a history of responding to lower-scale events with some dramatic, higher-scale responses. You may want to get some help from your husband or a close friend with charting the importance of an event. What you want to do is practice responding at or near the same level as the event. If the event is a 3, instead of shooting up to a 10, practice responding at a 2, 3, or 4 level.

Given time and some practice, most people are able to respond in more effective ways to the events of life. One of the best payoffs is that life becomes more fun and enjoyable.

Visit SecretsofGreatRelationships.com for tips and tools for creating and growing a great relationship. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 10 day e-program on how to enrich your relationship today, from relationship coach and expert Jeff Herring.

In The News:

Stress Management for Nurses  www.oncnursingnews.com/
IN BRIEF  Daily Pioneer
The true cost of stress?  Halifax Courier
WAITE | The Cost of Peak Performance at Cornell  Cornell University The Cornell Daily Sun
Get Moving  Highlands Current
Community News for Nov. 17, 2019  Utica Observer Dispatch
It's Your Business for Sunday, Nov. 17 - News  The Topeka Capital-Journal

Stress Management and Mastery: Frustration or Fascination

"Learn how to turn frustration into fascination. You will learn... Read More

Stress Management and Mastery: Practicing Perspective

Q. I wonder if you could help me with a... Read More

Stressed? Relax Right Now with 5 Super-Simple Stress-Busters

Stressed? Relax Right Now with 5 Super-Simple Stress-BustersStressed-out? Don't know... Read More

Stress Management and Mastery: Watch Your Language

"Watch your language."We all heard this admonition as kids and... Read More

Army Ranger Reveals How to Control Corporate Stress

"Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into... Read More

Keeping You Stress Free!

We function at our best when we are free from... Read More

Training Your Mind For Better Business and Leisure

Training Your Mind For Better Business and LeisureModern life moves... Read More

Dialing M For Mindfulness

Looking for mindfulness? Who ya gonna call?Try dialing M.It's easy... Read More

Stress: Daily Self-Care Habits to Manage Stress

Today we have more stress in our lives than ever... Read More

Stress Management: Workaholism is a Thief

Let's take a look at some of the more serious... Read More

Simple Tips to Help Simplify Your Life! - Make it Great!

Quote of the week"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo da... Read More

Stress Management and Mastery: The Value of Vitamin NO

What part of no don't you understand? - Bumper stickerThe... Read More

Quiet Mind; A Powerful Tool That Gives You More Time, Creativity, And Productivity And Takes Just 10

The National Center for health statistics reported that in 1997,... Read More

Stress And Anxiety - Take Charge Of It!

Have you ever noticed what occurs when you are suddenly... Read More

Social Phobia

Imagine going through your whole life in the constant fear... Read More

Are You Taking Notice? What Are Your Warning Signs Stress Is Building Up?

Many people recognise the warning signs that stress may be... Read More

Cancel Stress and Be Blessed!

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour... Read More

Canadian Physicians on Slippery Slope of Burnout

In a recent CMA survey of 2251 physicians, over 45%... Read More

Coping With Stress

When something happens in our lives, we automatically assess the... Read More

When Dreams Get Shattered: Picking Up the Pieces

"Smash!" It was a sunny autumn Saturday. My cousins and... Read More

Ten Easy Relaxation Techniques

Stress is more than just unpleasant. It's dangerous. Try these... Read More

Practical Ways to Bring Enchantment into Your Life

THE ENCHANTED SELF® teaches you how to access positive states... Read More

Stress is a Killer?Will it get YOU?

What good is Personal or Business Success...if your Health is... Read More

How To Stop Computers Stressing You Out

Of all the forms of stress in today's world, computer... Read More

Reduce Stress and Increase Energy with Your Point of View!

Defending your point of view can use up a lot... Read More