These days, I often hear people saying that stress is good – that there’s a difference between “good” and “bad” stress, and that they want more “good “ stress in their lives.
All well and good. But what, exactly is “good” stress? When I ask, I almost always get some variation of the following: it’s the kind of stress that gives you the drive to get something done; it gives you energy instead of taking it away; it’s when you’re in the “zone” and everything is moving like a knife through butter.
I get that – most if not all of us have experienced those moments of pure productivity in our lives. And they are truly wonderful. But this kind of stress is only “good” if it happens periodically. These days, many of us expect ourselves – or are expected by others – to be that productive all the time. When that happens, this “good” stress turns “bad”, and we end up feeling overwhelmed and powerless.
So the question of interest for me is: How can I determine when I’m moving from “good” to “bad” stress? The answer: by attending to my knowing, another way of saying trust my gut. This is another phrase used a lot these days – it’s so easy to talk about and yet so hard for most of us to do – because it’s something we have spent most of our adult lives eradicating.
Those times when you didn’t feel like staying up late, but were talked into it; or when you were uncomfortable walking into an elevator with an angry-looking stranger but did anyway; or any number of situations you found yourself in where your gut said I don’t like this and your head said It’s OK – you’re imagining things, Gut! Those times added up into a disconnect between you and your knowing. And that disconnect led to you losing your personal power, because personal power resides in your knowing.
We have personal power when we are sure of ourselves, when we trust ourselves to know what’s good or bad for us, and then always go for it. Every time we ignore that wise part of us, we lose a bit of our own personal power, sending us into increasing self-doubt, increasing overwhelm.
Why? Because what’s in our head is knowledge we’ve collected from others = our parents, teachers, community leaders and friends. This kind of knowledge is useful but not something that should ever replace what we know for sure. And what we know for sure is in our gut, not our head.
If you’re uncertain of this, try this out: On a day that might rain – that looks possibly like it might and the forecast is uncertain, stand for a few minutes, eyes closed, and see how you feel about the weather. I don’t mean emotions or judgments, I mean sensations, because that’s the language of the gut. Your body knows better than your head – or the forecast – whether or not to take an umbrella. Then whatever your gut says, simply go with it.
Whether it rains or not, you’ve just taken care of yourself. Whether it rains or not, notice how you feel – relaxed or stressed? Relaxed or uncertain? Relaxed or in doubt?
You can relearn to do this in any situation. This is Personal Power.
This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.
Three Steps to Cultivate your Authentic Power
Quote of the Week
You are more powerful than you think
It’s bigger than you
Leaders are made, not born
Leveling up is a choice
They say you can’t, we know you can
Dance with fear
See, assert, change
Overwhelmed is temporary
Out loud, in public
Hard work is far better than busy work
The crowd is wrong. The critics are wrong. Useful feedback is precious…
Management matters. So does leadership…
“Here, I made this.” Or possibly, “Here, we made this.”
See the end before you begin the journey
Culture defeats everything
-Seth Godin, 17 Rules for the New World of Work
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages. For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org