Have you ever noticed when you are under significant pressure that your well-being can seem to move between feeling you are doing OK to not feeling OK at all?
One secret to this underlying instability lies in a particular class of beliefs - the judgements - that hold incredible power over our well-being. Judgements are important to be aware of, because it is judgements more than anything else that hold the key to moving from stressed out to back in better balance, from not coping - to coping better -from red to green.
Put very simply, symptoms of stress arise in our bodies when a small part of our brain (the amygdala/security officer/inner child) determines/judges that stimulus events in our lives are Not-Wants and that -in addition - these Not-Wants are BAD for us.
Now, I know all this, but under pressure it is VERY easy to forget it.... As soon as this judgement that what is happening is BAD has taken place, what is triggered is the alarm response and with this arises the preparation for self-protection. We feel tension and find that to discharge tension we may do a variety of things - rage, cry or smoke a cigarette.. Some methods of taking care of ourselves are healthier than others. One of the most important things to remember in I Matter is that if our Loving Adult or Thinking Boss is 'Out to lunch', (ie we are not being mindful and conscious), we may not question the judgement, and in this situation, round and round we can go. Red route becomes active and our well-being decreases.
It is hard to remember when under pressure that a Not-Want may not be BAD. This idea is however central to the I Matter Framework and the I Matter Process.. In I Matter when we are wobbling we can remember (as soon as we are able) that to travel green route, the key is to remember that the Not-Want could be judged as OK (still not at all what we wanted but something we can accept has happened or is happening) and something which might possibly provide an opportunity - for example an opportunity to stretch into a new stronger even happier, version of ourselves.
This reframing can take on a myriad of different versions but is not just about becoming an all accepting push over. It might include such things as asserting our right to say No, or accepting our right to feel pain and overwhelm and ask for help, or accepting the need to revise some assumptions. What is interesting is that each time we manage to successfully reframe the Not-Want, as OK or as an opportunity then our stress levels have a chance to decrease - even just a little. The challenge to stabilise ourselves therefore when under real pressure involves learning to hold the reframes over time - learning how to move out of red route loops, shift the judgements and take the actions needed to move into green - and stay there..
This stuff is powerful! But I find it VERY useful, and I teach it! (And still often forget!) So think carefully, have you got a challenging Not-Want in your life - that you have been doing red route about? Could it possibly be an opportunity to choose green - a stronger, clearer version of YOU? If so, what is the opportunity? What would green actually look like? How might this be a chance for you to stretch?
Dr Cathy Betoin
Dr Cathy Betoin
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