When Stress becomes Distress : Reenforcing Life Script

when stress becomes distress

When Stress becomes Distress – triggers

I HATE phone companies – well I did last week anyway! – They were definitely out to get me – unfair, annoying, unprofessional, irresponsible and causing me a LOT of Stress – lots of phone calls, automated systems, people not phoning back, no one giving me an answer – I was STRESSED, I was distressed, anyone would be, right? …wouldn’t they? Or was it just me?

In this situation many people would feel stressed but just because many people would be doesn’t mean that we have to be and doesn’t mean that it was the phone company causing me stress – in fact I was causing myself stress and using the phone company to do that. Why would I do that ? – I am a (relatively) sane intelligent adult capable woman and yet I got myself in what I can only describe as a ‘right old tizz’.

Its all about balance – Stress is something we need in our lives. If we have too little stress we get bored, lethargic, we can become depressed and isolated but too much stress is VERY bad for us. We tend not to take it very seriously but stress has huge impacts both our physical and psychological health. When under too much stress our bodies release the hormone Cortisol and when we have too much Cortisol in our bodies it actually kills of brain cells. Stress also stops our bodies working well and can cause a whole range of problems.

Often we just take it for granted that this is how our life is, we have a stressful job, the kids are stressing us, money worries are stressing us, an important meeting coming up is stressing us – however it is NOT those external things causing us stress but we use those things to stress us and wind ourselves up. In our society we have created more and more stimulation and over stimulation is stressful. We then become addicted to stress and create more and more stimulation thus creating more and more stress. We get used to the feeling of adrenalin/cortisol and require more stress to create the level of stimulation. It’s a vicious cycle.

We can think of being over stressed as a drug. A drug we need to come off and then create lives where we don’t have that level of over stimulation. I didn’t need to get stressed about my phone and the bills I was being charged. Yes it was inconvenient but in the greater scheme of things it had no significance at all. I was choosing to get stressed about it and using it to re enforce my unconscious view of the world.

When Stress becomes Distress – life script

I am a Transactional Analyst and in TA we call this our Life Script. Life Scripts are the unconscious decisions we have made in childhood about ourselves, others and the world that we then unconsciously look to reinforce throughout our life. We may have decided ‘people can’t be trusted’ or ‘life’s unfair’ or ‘I am unlovable’ or a whole range of things. We often don’t see ourselves, others and the world as it is but as we interpret it to be. If you think about a time you have fallen out with someone or something has gone wrong – what conclusions do you draw about it – what sense do you make of it. We often believe what we think but it is rarely reality – we make sense of something, we create a narrative from our own frame of reference and then we call it reality. This is how we keep our Life Script going and enforce our own subjective reality to ourselves – you see – people do let me down etc.

When Stress becomes Distress – make a choice

Over stress is a choice we make, it’s a habit we get in to and way that we harm ourselves and often use it to reinforce a negative script or frame of reference. We know Stress is bad for us and yet often we continue creating stress in our lives.

We have a choice and how you choose to live your life is up to you and how I choose to live mine is up to me. For further discussion, Our Wednesday Wellbeing evening centres on Anxiety in the 21st century, details can be found here.