When talking about stress management, I don't offer magic beans, magic pills, or magic wands. If you follow any of my writings, you know I'm not about the superficial Band-Aids and coping methods that make our lives and situations seem better for the moment. It's about finding long-term, permanent solutions that build us up from the inside out while reducing the number of stressors we carry on our proverbial plates.
Because stress can be such a heavy weight, we have a tendency to overlook the simple solutions or wave them off as too trivial. When it comes to stress management, just the opposite is true. Getting back to basics and leveraging fundamentals is the key to reducing stress. The way to get started is by using five magic words. (I didn't say I don't use any magic.)
Too often our language is filled with words that keep us stuck, thinking small, and tucked securely in our own little box. When this happens, our stress response is triggered because our brain senses danger: "There's no way out. I'm trapped." It's almost like a psychological version of being a caged animal, and we are fighting to get out. The more choices, options, and outcomes we see in a given situation, the less our stress response is triggered.
Replace language that limits your outcomes with the word "and." Words such as "either/or," "but," "however," and "this/that" are the kind of words that keep you small, stuck, and stressed.
When you use "and," things become unlimited. "I want to take my practice to the next level and stress less." With "and" you can create win-win-win situations. Sometimes it takes a bit longer; "and" the results are worth it.
Finish this sentence: "I am _____ ." How you complete this simple sentence is powerful. It tells you so much about what you need to know regarding your current situation and how you are moving forward or staying stuck.
To increase the amount of positivity you feel, you must first start with increasing the amount of positivity you think. It's common for people to forget that it's actually our brain that creates the biological impulses we interpret as feelings. Our thoughts don't come with the intense responses our feelings do. To feel joy, passion, happiness, desire, and experience less stress, it starts with what we tell ourselves.
Go back to that sentence, "I am _____," and add the word "enough." That's it. One single word that offers grace. "I am enough."
When you start to believe it, you'll discover all the amazing new things you're willing to try, do, accomplish, and risk. When you believe you are good enough, it's magical.
The brain has safeguards for us we don't even realize are put into place and probably wouldn't choose if we had some awareness of them. When we set goals and don't achieve them, the majority of us feel so disheartened, disappointed, guilty, and stressed that our brain discourages us from doing that ever again. It's why many of us find goal setting so daunting and avoid setting ourselves up for failure.
"Yet" is a word that gives us hope. A word that when used regularly gives us the positive energy to keep going. It gives us permission to take even the smallest of baby steps.
Change is hard, and we feel as if we have only two options:
- Keep going and deal with the pain and hardship.
- Give up.
Yet, there is a third option, and that is to change our level of expectation of the journey. Instead of thinking we should lose 10 pounds in a month, give yourself a year. If you are in a relationship that is struggling, say you haven't worked it out, yet. Your business isn't collecting what you dreamed it would, yet. You haven't figured it out, yet.
"Yet" is a simple word with incredible power. The power of hope, wishfulness, and dreams.
In part 2 of this series, Jen will cover the other magic words "more" and "maybe," along with specific ideas to help you implement these words and concepts in your practice and your life.
Jen Butler, MEd, has been working in the area of stress management and resiliency coaching for more than 20 years. She speaks, writes, coaches, and consults on all things stress-related for dental professionals. For more information on how to stressLESS, join her mailing list , take a stressLESS Intensive course, and connect with other like-minded, dental professionals while learning how to reduce and manage stress by joining a stressLESS Mastermind Alliance for more information.
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