Life Events & Stress

Posted on March 1st, by Susan Monkman in Articles. Comments Off on Life Events & Stress

Life Events & Stress

Opportunities for Personal Growth

Individuals are as unique as their life experiences.  No two people respond to the same event or situation in the same way.

Manitobans are all too familiar with spring floods.  As the Red River surges, residents respond in very different ways.  When this event is perceived as a threat, it can trigger anxiety, dread, and fear.  Why? This response often results when an individual believes their resources are inadequate or depleted to cope with the event (i.e. beliefs about one’s ability to cope, or limited time, finances, energy, and other life stressors).  A sense of powerlessness may pervade contributing to isolation and depression.

Fear can also motivate anxious activity to gain a sense of control over the situation. But energy generated by fear depletes us emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Other residents along the Red River may become energized at the initial news report and increasingly so as the water rises.  The rising river becomes a challenge to be conquered. It is viewed as an exciting event or an opportunity for personal growth. These individuals spring into action, helping others to sandbag their homes.  In turn, this positive energy spills over to other areas as it stirs positive emotions, increases self-esteem, and creates a stronger sense of community.  This response may contribute to improving relationships, concentration and problem-solving abilities. Even if the flood overcomes their efforts, they are strengthened from their internal and external resources.

However, unbalanced zeal to conquer the flood can also have negative repercussions as the need to conquer the flood becomes all consuming; done at all cost. And the cost can be great.  Relationships suffer, finances are strained, and health may be affected as the candle is burned at both ends of the stick. Loved ones may experience increased anxiety and a sense of powerlessness and depression as they consider the potential impact of this obsession. Children may feel invisible.

Perhaps you can identify with one of these responses to this seasonal event or some other event.  Life currents have a way of churning up conflicting thoughts and emotions.  Through counselling you can begin to identify underlying thought patterns and beliefs that motivate harmful responses, and uncover past and/or present life experiences that may have shaped your perceptions.  As you begin to challenge thoughts that prevent you from moving forward, and identify your strengths, you will discover that you possess the most crucial resources to overcome problems in life even when circumstances are beyond your control (like a flood). Discover how you can grow with the flow!

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