In times of great stress or adversity,
it’s always best to keep busy,
to plow your anger and your energy
into something positive.
~ Lee Iacocca
How do you cope with adversity?
Do you feel your feelings or do you stuff them?
I realize that in the approach mentioned above, many attempt the avoidance technique of busyness, so they don’t have to face or confront what’s going on both inside and outside of themselves.
This is not wise. Nor is it what I’m advocating.
However, the way you cope says a lot about how you live your life and the impact and fulfillment you’re destined to achieve.
Psychology tells us that there are two types of coping mechanisms:
- Regressive Coping; and
- Transformative Coping.
One is productive and the other is completely counter-productive.
One moves your forward, and the other at best keeps you stuck, and at worst moves you back.
Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to learn to cope with the hardballs and hooks that life throws at you.
None of us is immune.
I remember when life was throwing business loss, financial ruin, reputation attack and legal issues at me all at once, I had to make a choice.
Fortunately I didn’t make the choice my mood told me to make.
The true test of character is choosing
to live your values above and beyond your moods.
Let’s talk about regressive coping first. When things go sideways it’s very easy to get caught up in this counterproductive strategy.
There are basically two types of people: those who like pleasing activities; and those who like pleasing results.
Those who practice regressive coping get caught in the pleasure and “feel good” of the moment; and they totally ignore the long term consequences.
Those who practice regressive coping reach for a bottle versus a book.
They watch TV versus working out.
They eat junk and so-called “comfort food” versus ultimate performance fuel.
They get caught up in distraction versus meditation.
Now while these things are seductive, and they may feel good in the near term, you like me know, that in the long term they’re a sure-fire strategy for further frustration and failure.
It’s not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it.
~ Hans Selye
You see, stress is not the enemy. In fact, Selye’s research proves that there are actually benefits to stress when utilized appropriately. That compelling pull that compels us to act and motor forward is the stressor that causes us to grow and improve.
This compelling stress is what Selye called eustress.
Without eustress there is no inspiration.
Stress is not the enemy.
The enemy is lack of recovery.
The exact opposite of regressive coping is what psychologists call transformative coping.
Unlike regressive coping, transformative coping does just what the name implies, it transforms your situation for the better. It transforms YOU for the better!
Your results are a reflection of you.
During my Tsunami, it would have been very easy in the near term to curl up in the fetal position and cry. Make no mistake—I experienced more than a few days of tears, pain, and anguish.
But through a sheer act of will I would get up and do my yoga, meditate, and lift weights to start my day. I kept my mind focused and my diet clean.
By the way, these are the last thing in the world my mood wanted me to do; and my mental and emotional energy was in knots.
But after, I would always feel a bit more uplifted. A bit more capable. A little more resilient and resourceful to tackle the enormous task that lay before me.
Transformative coping gave me a feeling, even if ever so slight, that I could and would make it through the life that was crashing down upon me.
I made it; and so can you.
The greatest weapon against stress
is our ability to choose one thought over another.
~ William James
So how are you coping with the hooks and sucker punches of life?
In a transformative way? Or a regressive way?
When you do something productive—not to avoid situations by any means, rather to transform YOU first and foremost you will succeed.
You’ll find within yourself a power that is bigger and wiser than you; and you become bigger and wiser as a result.
For let’s face it. You grow the most in the crucible of challenge, not tripping through the sunflowers and rolling fields.
You grow and learn the most in the crucible of challenge.
Not tripping through the sunflowers and rolling fields.
Get transforming and get growing.
Stay Awake, Love Life and Be Epic!