SKILLS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY:
How to Add Life to Your Years and Years to Your Life!
by Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
This article is the first in a series
of articles, written exclusively for EXPERT
and directed at showing you how to master the stresses in your
You find yourself getting
increasingly irritable, impatient, having difficulty concentrating
or sleeping, procrastinating, wondering what meaning your life has, or you
accused of acting cold and distant, displaying
sarcasm and a short fuse. All
of these behaviors and attitudes are symptoms of stress.
is such an overused term, yet in our competitive and impatient
examples of stress are with us constantly.
Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent
annually for stress-related medical insurance claims, workers compensation
reduced productivity, poor product quality, spillover into marital and
family problems, and
even drug and alcohol abuse, which is often a desperate attempt at coping
with the stress. Stress has
surpassed the common cold as the most prevalent health problem in America!
most of us, work challenges, managing our teens, and pleasing our spouses
represent daily stressors. But
events, per se, being confronted by a disgruntled employee, your teen
missing curfew, or an argument with your spouse,
never cause your stress!
feelings of stress, including all of the symptoms mentioned above,
are never caused
by events that take place in your life...events are neutral!
For example, let's assume that
I am booked to conduct a full-day training program or motivational speech in
Chicago and attendees have flown in from all over the country for this
training. Five minutes before I am
to board my plane, my flight is cancelled due to inclement weather in
Chicago. There are
no flights going into Chicago and it will not be possible to arrive in time
for my program.
This is a neutral event.
I find myself irritated at the airline representative, or I begin to
perspire and feel a
tightening across my chest...these are stress symptoms, but they are not due
to the event
of having my flight cancelled. Events do not directly cause stress, or any
other emotion, attitude or mood, for that matter.
emotion or attitude that results from event is strictly caused by your
or belief about the event. In effect, it's that little voice in your head
with you...your self-talk...that always determines how you react to events.
We all have a
little voice that we "listen to" constantly.
continue my example, if I learn that the flight is cancelled (the event), I
might say to myself: "Oh,
that's just great...now I won't make the meeting, everyone is there
their time, and the CEO will be so angry at me that he'll never hire me to
conduct a training program again."
a negative, self-defeating statement immediately
activates the nervous system necessary to deal with life-threatening
situations, and my body reacts accordingly.
blood pressure rises and my behavior may become irrational, such as yelling
attendant, even though she can do nothing to change the flight situation.
the other hand, suppose that when I learn that the flight is cancelled, I
say to myself
the following: "This is
really unfortunate and I feel badly that I will not be there, but it is
absolutely beyond my control. I
will phone the CEO right away and see if he would like
me to find a substitute trainer in Chicago...or if we can postpone the
training for one day
until I can arrive...or if there is a way that I can do the training through
a tele-conference tomorrow. That
way, with the audience all situated in the meeting room, I can arrange to
do the training by interactive television.
I can even use this example with them when I
discuss how self -
talk always determines our emotional, attitudinal and behavioral
responses to events!"
"culprit" in all of this is our internal critic...that voice
within that spews out an average
of 55,000 words per day, 77% of which are negative, self-defeating
messages... messages like, "This employee doesn't respect me, so I need
to teach him a lesson," or "My son
doesn't care if we worry," or "My wife will never understand
wisdom about how our inner thoughts and beliefs about events are critical to
our well-being has been around for centuries.
The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, "Men
are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them."
In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote, "There's nothing either good or
bad, but thinking makes it so."
takes the average human body a full 24 hours to fully recover from only five
minutes of negative thinking! So,
with approximately 77% of the thoughts stored in our subconscious being
negative and counterproductive and it taking the body 24 hours to recover
five minutes of negative thinking, our bodies are taking a tremendous
beating...just by our thought processes.
Just think. Suppose I open a
casino and you love to gamble. If
I told you that 77% of the
time the house will win and every time you lose, it will take your body 24
hours to recover, would you enter my casino and gamble?
Of course not...yet many of us literally go through life programmed
negatively so that we will not achieve our goals or live stress-free, or be
happy. Of course , this is
illogical, but as someone once so aptly put it, "If logic always
prevailed, men would ride horses side-saddle!"
tuned for the next installment, where Dr. Singer will explain the
relationship between your thoughts,
stress level and your health.
show you how to change your thinking habits for the rest of your life!
Jack Singer is a Professional Speaker and a practicing Clinical and
Consulting Psychologist in Laguna Niguel, California.
Jack "Has Couch and Will Travel."
For more information on
his wonderful keynotes and workshops, you can
him at (800) 497-9880,
or visit www.funspeaker.com
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