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Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Some situations become stressful because noone has taken responsibility for them. Imagine yourself as a passenger in a car that is approaching a herd of elephants, and the driver is screaming in alarm and ignoring the brakes. Dangerously unnecessary stress will build up inside that car!

When a bill you can't clear arrives on your doorstep, concentrate your energies on reducing the danger of such unpleasant consequences as your water or power being turned off. Refuse to devote any of that energy to an emotion called panic by taking positive action, such as visiting the municipal utility office and negotiating an arrangement to pay off the excess amount in manageable instalments. If you feel that the amount of the bill does not reflect your actual usage, query the bill first; quite possibly, the meter reader did not come to your home this month, and an inflated estimate was used. Whatever the case may be, creditors are generally more interested in securing payment than in "fixing" you.

Let's take another situation. School begins next week, and you do not have enough money to cover the fees. Going down with stress won't help your child, and your child needs you to take full charge of the situation. Think creatively within the law. You could visit the principal today and offer an instalment plan. If you have a bank account and the bank manager has no reason to hate you, you could go talk to her. Banks are in the business of selling money. If other doors are closed, isn't there something in the house that you can sell this week and perhaps replace later on? This list of possibilities is not a comprehensive one; each one of us has emergency exits they can use in the face of danger. The secret is to remain calm and avoid debilitating panic.

When you deliberately choose to act as a problem solver, you become bigger than the problem. True, some situations are more difficult than others, but it is a better strategy to work harder at tackling them than to fall hard into depression and stress, which bring further, and often more serious, problems. Stay on top of things so things don't crush you.

In the next instalment we shall deal with relationship problems, which are arguably the dominant cause of stress in our world.

Sunday, October 6, 2013



This post is about stress, so I shall break it up into segments and keep it short so you don't get stressed out reading it. I hope this first segment will help someone.
Things that we may not have planned, both good and bad, happen to us, and around us. These may be events that affect our health, our relationships, our life pursuits or our careers. The shock and impact of some of them can leave us tense, paralysed or confused. We are confronted with a demand to deal with situations we did not expect, situations about which we may not be able to do anything at all. Your husband or wife strays. A child is arrested. The utility bill is too big for your paycheck this month. The baby you never planned is on its way. What to do?
Sometimes the key is to do nothing. Most stress is caused by our failure to recognise the difference between the fact that something has happened and the question whether it is our duty to take any action in response to it. This failure often puts pressure on us to "do something", even in situations where it is not in our power to act. When we feel responsible but can't act, we react emotionally, and this erodes our ability to cope. In such situations, slow down and concentrate on coping. Such moments may well be moments for faith in God, and for leaning on the shoulders of others. The reason we are counseled to "bear one another's burdens" is clear: when it's your own burden, it may be too close for you to bear without falling apart. Find a dependable confidante and pour it out.
(In the next post, which should be up in a day or so, we shall deal with stressful situations caused by things we can do something about, e.g. the utility bill).