For better or worse, most of you know that I love self-help books. Some are fantastic. Some are laughable.
“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson is a big series in the genre. Re-reading the original for the umpteenth time, I came across this chapter that stuck with me a bit…
It seems that we have it backward in our society. We tend to look up to people who are under a great deal of stress, who can handle loads of stress, and those who are under a great deal of pressure. When someone says, “I’ve been working really hard, ” or “I’m really stressed out,” we are taught to admire, even emulate their behavior. In my work as a stress consultant I hear the proud words “I have a very high tolerance to stress” almost every day. It probably won’t come as a surprise that when these stressed-out people first arrive at my office, more often than not, what they are hoping for are strategies to raise their tolerance to stress even higher so they can handle even more!
Fortunately, there is an inviolable law in our emotional environment that goes something like this: Our current level of stress will be exactly that of our tolerance to stress. You’ll notice that the people who say, “I can handle lots of stress” will always be under a great deal of it! So, if you teach people to raise their tolerance to stress, that’s exactly what will happen. They will accept even more confusion and responsibility until again, their external level of stress matches that of their tolerance. Usually it takes a crisis of some kind to wake up a stressed-out person to their own craziness–a spouse leaves, a health issue emerges, a serious addiction takes over a life–something happens that jolts them into a search for a new kind of strategy.
What do you think? True?