You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess
Lettin’ your worries pass you by
Don’t you think it’s worth your time
To change your mind?
Wilson Philips – Hold On For One More Day
Ever notice that after touching a hot stove or receiving bruises we almost instinctively begin clutching the part of our body which was injured? We apply pressure to bruise, as if hoping we gain some relief.
According to some scientific research, directly touching or applying some level of pressure to the pained area is not only normal, but doing so may actually provide some level of relief from the pain we feel.
I believe the idea of going directly at the source of our pain is useful for dealing with psychological suffering.
One of the worst things to do when experiencing stress is avoidance. Just as refusing to seek physical illnesses can result in serious medical problems. Similarly, by choosing to ignore or avoid emotional stress we leave ourselves vulnerable to psychological suffering.
Putting your head in the sand does not make your problems go away. In fact, avoiding your stressors will only make you more anxious. This can lead to what is known as “catastrophizing” the erroneous belief that your issues are insurmountable.
Often times our decision to avoid is due to irrational fears we have about a stressor. We then conjure “what if” scenarios which feed our fears and keep us from addressing our stressors.
Another problematic strategy is blaming others for your predicament. Out of our control traumatic events do happen. However, the blame game can be disempowering for you and does little to correct the problem. Regardless of who’s at fault, the more important question is, what can YOU do to confront your situation now.
Beginning the journey of facing your fears can be as simple as acknowledging that you are experiencing problems and you have chosen to cope by avoidance, which has not been helpful.
I also recommend writing down the worries you have about dealing with the problem. Research has shown that writing down your feelings can bring a level of stress relief as you release pent up emotion. From there you can consider which fears are rational and which are irrational.
Next you can consider what options you can take to tackle the stress you feel. Walking in the face of your fears involves hitting your problems “head on” by engaging in problem solving strategies designed to reduce the impact of the stressor and possibly eliminate it altogether.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that you do not have to choose to take on your problems alone or in isolation, calling a friend, family member or loved one and asking for assistance is HIGHLY RECCOMMENDED. Doing so takes courage and goes a long way in helping you face the difficulties you experience.
Another irrational thought which interferes in our willingness to face our fears is the idea that all of our stress must end quickly. Rome was not built in a day. Be patient with yourself and validate the small steps you complete in route to overcoming your current adversity.
Also, reward yourself each time you face a fear. Engaging in self-appreciative behaviours not only increases the likelihood that you will continue to address your stressors, but can also go a long way in raising your self-esteem.
Finally, one of the bravest strategies you can engage is seeking help from a Psychologist or mental health professional who can assist you in your journey of walking in the face of your fears.
Photo: Flickr/epSos .de