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You have a multidimensional self –all of the old personality tests need to be thrown out! Humans are amazingly flexible and adaptable.

We watch everyone at all ages as we learn what do I do – how I should be – we repeat what works. These are adaptations that are based on real experiences so it is important to respect the past and be kind in regard to how you were in those times.

Individuals experience stress in many different ways over time and take on an adaptive role.  The role is both available to use and is also changeable.  When you have a good realistic a relationship with yourself you have a lot of influence on changing reactions to stress triggers. Especially now that you have the Check In to buy some time to experiment.

WORKSHEET: The categories  are the many social roles that people experience all the time.  What you learned in these roles helps create experiences now at Home, with Friends, with Yourself, at work or School and with your Family.   These experiences add up to a working self –concept or identity.

EXAMPLE:     Pablo is originally from Peru but currently lives in Detroit. He suffers from exhaustion and a sense of not having time for anything. His Social Roles worksheet looks like he is in the hospitality business even though he is an officer on the police force.  He is 24/7 full-out making everyone happy.   He experiences chest pain one night and ended up in the Emergency Room thinking he was having a heart attack.  The doc told him he was living on the edge of a heart attack but this wasn’t it.

At Home – I am the one who is a good father, husband, lets people stay for months, feed them, listens,  laughs, can’t sleep.

As a child with my family – I was the one who was ashamed of the way my family lived…. In poverty, uneducated, desperate… nothing felt safe or permanent.

At work  I am the one who keeps everyone going, tells jokes, solves problems, is responsible for safety of everyone.

Pablo is developing risk for long-term medical problems that could be very serious one day.  He has dismissed the consequences of eating, drinking, smoking because these are his comforts.  He lives in a high stress state, sleep deprived and out of shape because he, ” Never takes time for myself”.

With myself I was the one who needed lots of security and worked hard to build a life. I am proud and exhausted and didn’t know I was under too much stress.

I am the one who has a great life, loves everyone, organizes activities, has heart burn and can’t sleep, will do anything for a friend.

With myself I am the one who wants to feel calm, give a lot to others, take time for me.  I want to be healthy so I need to start saying NO sometimes.

Pablo grew up hiding his family life and home from his friends because he was ashamed of their poverty and the living conditions.  His adaptation to stress was to create a life he could proudly share with others.  Not a bad adaptation except for too much anxiety based on fear which put his health at risk.

In the ER Pablo was relieved to find out that his pain was gastric reflux from too much coffee, alcohol and smoking.

WORKSHEET: For the worksheet use short words to describe how you were, how you are.  Many people are too vague: I was a lonely kid, I am the one who feels distant, I want to get better.  Use more specific details how were you lonely or distant with other kids with adults,  in what ways – I was not athletic, I was in a bad school, and  how do you need to get better – be active, I need to find a sport, do what I love, play the guitar, find other people, join a book club?  Use active words for the last line so that you have some self directives which are possible to do.

EXPERIMENT: Check in with your social roles throughout the day and make a few experiments that address what you want and need for yourself.

 

You have put together a lot of good information about your body, your history, and all the different ways and reasons you have reacted to stress. NOW WHAT?

The place to start is as always when you feel lower levels of stress at 4, 5 and 6.  At these key levels HOLDING is about recognition and usefulness of the experience.  OF COURSE I AM REACTING THIS WAY>>>> OK, now what?
By recognizing the main theme of your experience you will find the clarity to resolve the real cause or at least the immediate effect – and not get lost in the loop of thinking about it. This is self orientation so that you can move forward with proactive ways of interacting in your own experience.

It seems odd that just by recognizing the emotions, behaviors, thoughts behind the experience that you would feel better, but this actually changes your brain from reactive mode to a sense of  useful self-knowledge – HOW does this emotion make sense with my history?

Holding onto the personal meaning of stress is a gentle art of not blaming yourself or anyone else. It is like holding a small creature in your hand – this is not holding tight and not holding back.  Put both hands together out in front of yourself with your palms up.  This is how you hold your real experience of your emotions, your body, and your actions as a fact.  If there were a small bird in your hands you don’t want to jump and run or drop it or ignore it. You want to pay attention to it in the ways that make sense.

Once your experiences and ways of adapting in the past make sense you have the ability to refocus on a reaction that  ‘fits’ your current life.

EXAMPLE: Maria comes from a family who don’t talk about problems – “we just work harder”. Of course she has chronic indigestion and inflammation.

She was full of self-hatred for being a weak person at level 8-10.  Her lack of self- expression was about being defensive and quickly  burying strong emotions. Not a bad adaptation to some surroundings but she wants her home to be safe and realxing and expressive.

Her teenage children are often sarcastic and demanding:  STOP/WAIT – I know what this is… “I feel scared, I feel worried and my stomach gets tight.  OK, I have choices of what to say and do in my own home.

The tool of HOLDING is not a magical way of thinking positive thoughts. When you use the repetitive HOLDING tool you are reminding yourself of what you know to be real for you because of past experiences. Emotions are useful facts of experience not illogical or random.

STOP/WAIT – find the emotion and physical feelings – use words that are simple and fit your experience of stress at level 3-4-5: I feel tight, loose, pain, confused, upset, crazy, light, alone, etc… Use all the senses you have to be physically and emotionally aware as you see where it fits in your history.  Now what do I want for myself?

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Day 1  and 2 are a full out education in Biology- The Experience of your physical self!

Life is wonderful without stress… Your body is comfortable and flexible, behaviors are productive and self-directed, thoughts are relevant and emotions feel light and natural at levels 0 – 2.

All we want when we experience anxiety is to know that we can resolve it. You have started to use this program because you are  “in stress mode” too often, which means that your body is also reacting to levels of hormones sent out by your brain to try to cope with stress. Stimulant hormones are fun up to level 4.

You may have experienced unresolved stress for so long that you are adapted to coping in certain ways with specific behaviors.  You may not even know what your stress is about most of the time, let alone what to do to resolve it.   You are simply used to.

Finding a way to feel more in charge would help. Stress is linked to very individual experiences of meaning.

We humans are physical, biological, social-emotional beings so our sensitivity to and awareness of our body, behavior, emotions and thoughts is critical to our well being. The brain is an experience- driven, embodied mechanism. Wonderful research from the past twelve years shows that we are self-referencing in feedback loops especially in the Limbic system and brain stem.

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As a child, teen and adult your brain is collecting experience of ‘me’ every day. Just like your body grows in size, so does your brain. Physical growth happens up to age 21 and the brain continues to change even after this. Just like your skin forming freckles or a scar, your brain is reacting and changing according to the environment.

Even small stresses – the positive kind – have a physical response – that tingle of excitement down your spine when you are getting ready for a party or, hear your favorite song, the small increase in appetite when you finish exercise.

When stress is intense every day you adapt to it with coping behavior so you don’t feel it as much and you may try to avoid, hide, or distract yourself from a natural response.

Stress over time on a daily basis can make you sick and includes long-term symptoms… you may have one of these stress-related illnesses or you want to prevent one.

The BRAIN – is an amazing thing and much more versatile than ever imagined.

The many years of neuroscience behind this program provide   an answer to the question – How do you live with stress – why does experience affect all the systems in your body?   The answer is NEUROPLASTICITY.  Your brain is changing as you experience small amounts of stress so stepping into current stress experiences will put you much more in charge of the outcome!

You have started to learn to interrupt the process of going up the stress scale to anxiety, fear and sometimes the shut down or depression that can result from chronic-stress over time.

EXPERIMENT:    The app:  Each day of the program is a 24 hour experiment so that you can experience firsthand the power of interrupting your own stress cue.

For the rest of the day when you feel small irritations, a little worry, or mild frustration and the need to do something about it, just put a mental STOP/WAIT sign up and find the  physical marker and behaviors of stress which will be a new useful signal to use again and again.

STOP/ WAIT – I’m eating more than I want to…. am I hungry?

STOP/ WAIT – what am feeling emotionally?  unhappy, frustrated?

STOP/ WAIT – What am I doing?  I am repeatedly searching online – am I numbing out something, or am I looking for something specific?

You are already the expert on your own stress – just ask the questions.

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