You Don’t Have To Be the Victim to Stress

Seems like lately I’ve seen a lot of posts about stress and anxiety being terrible and traumatic.

Stress gets this terrible wrap, and it seems like most posts talk about the stress response simply being the 4 “F’s”:

  • Fight,
  • Flight,
  • Freeze, or
  • Fawn

But these posts completely ignore all of the other possible responses to stress.

Human beings are capable of so many other options when it come to stress response.

Stress has gotten a bad wrap for years.

I remember learning in college that “Stress is a silent killer.”

One college class taught that I needed to minimize, manage, and avoid stress.

The problem, we live in a world were people, parents, and teens are doing everything in their power to avoid stress.

What If Stress Isn’t A Problem?

I want you to think about some of the greatest people that you know, . . .

. . . people who have really accomplished something and had a powerful impact in the world and possible in your life . . .

. . . people who really inspire and impress you . . .

Then think about this, . . .

  • What is so wonderful about them?
  • What about them has impacted/inspired you?
  • Have they experienced stress?
  • How did they respond to stress?

The current narrative around stress and anxiety makes it sound like stress equals “game over” or that it’s time to stop doing what you’re doing.

This narrative gives stress debilitating power to hold you back and limit your growth.

Recently, I watched a documentary about Steve Young, the legendary BYU and 49er quarterback.

Most of his college career was extremely stressful, then in the NFL he was engaged in a stressful and heated quarterback controversy with Joe Montana.

He mentioned how this stress pushed him to try harder, to learn new things, and to become more than he would have without the stress.

There are countless stories about the power of stress from professional athletes to movie stars, powerful leaders, to people in your own life who you look up to.

What if stress isn’t the problem?

What if stress is the answer?

Stress Can Make You Stronger

Recently I read an article that stated that stress isn’t actually bad, it’s the perception that stress is bad that makes it so harmful.

When you look at professional athletes, they regularly subject their physical bodies to physical stress to get bigger and stronger.

The professional athletes who go down in the history books the GOATS, are part of the most stressful high pressure games, and they thrive.

Just like professional athletes, your stressors can be the mental and emotional workout that makes you mentally and emotionally stronger.

Some of the greatest figures in world history were the product of very stressful lives.

Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years. He was subjected to a lot of stress, and this helped him become the man he was, and a global leader.

Stop lookin at stress as a problem, and start looking at it as an opportunity.

Options for a Better Stress Response

Earlier we talked about the main 4 “F” stress responses that people usually talk about, Fight, Flight, Freeze, or Fawn.

I want to give you some up-leveled options when it comes to your stress response.

Since the common ones people talk about start with “F”, I wanted to start my with “G”, as it’s one letter higher than “F”.

  • GUTS
    • This is the option of being brave and turning to courage.
    • Courage and guts need stress. No one gets medals for doing easy things when everything is easy.
    • It takes guts to do hard things in the face of some serious stressors.
  • GRIT
    • One of the things I tell myself and my teens all the time is, “You can do hard things!”
    • The ability to do hard things is grit.
    • It’s okay to do hard things.
    • Life isn’t meant to be easy all the time.
    • This one refers to sticking with it and not giving up.
    • In the documentary that I recently watched about Steve Young, he told a story of wanting to quit the BYU football team. His dad told him, “You can quit, but you can’t come home.”
    • Steve Young went on to become one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.
    • I’m not saying this is how I would have handled things as a father, but I love this example of grit and grind.
    • This is one of my favorites.
    • When I’m stressed, I like to turn to my support system.
    • When I’m stressed about my own life, I like to take my focus off of my problems and serves someone else and alleviate their problems.
    • Gather people around you who you support and who can support you.
    • This one is my favorite of the list.
    • Every stressor can be an opportunity to grow!
    • This is an opportunity for you to let go of things outside of your control and master the things within your control.
    • This is what causes individual growth.

Fight, flight, freeze, and fawn all have their places.

I’m not saying their bad.

But I am saying that you are capable of so much more. Don’t limit yourself to the beliefs of society around you.

Putting It All Together

Too much stress can totally be a bad thing.

I get it.

But seriously, What’s too much stress?

It’s an opinion.

Things that I thought were too stressful, upon looking back, I realize that it was exactly what I needed to grow.

Stress lives in the mind.

Stress is based on interpretations, expectations, thoughts, and beliefs.

Instead of simply reacting to the stress with the typical “F” responses, try intentionally approaching stress using the “G” responses.

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