Recently, I was reflecting on the idea that is very prevalent in our society for explaining stress.
Many articles about stress talk about a flight or fight response system that we have developed in response to acute stress like a tiger chasing us. This system, however, is presently activated all the time in response modern stressors we are bombarded with and thus leads to chronic and toxic stress.
There is a huge emphasis in this theory on the idea that our present stressors are so hugely and vastly different from that of our ancestors.
For the longest time, I fully supported this notion, but my recent reflections lead me to a different conclusion.
While our ancestors didn’t have to deal with social media and information technology overload, they had plenty of ongoing and chronic stressors even when they were not being chased by a tiger. These stressors were the most natural thing of all – human relationships.
When I talk to my clients, 99% of their concerns stem from their interactions with others; either from current relationships they are in, or from traumatic entanglements of the past relationships they were in.
Our ancestors also didn’t live in isolation, quite the opposite; they lived in tightly knitted groups. And we all know that the closer the relationship is the greater the possibility for conflict and emotional intensity. Hate is the flip side of love.
From this observation, it is possible to conclude, that our ancestors also were exposed to the chronic stress of navigating complex relationships. In addition, many societies also had a definite hierarchy among people creating unequal power dynamic and thus even greater stress for people in the lower levels.
But do not despair, the beauty of this realization is the knowledge of where the most our stress comes from. And this knowledge is what gives us the power to change things around.
We all have the capacity to learn the skills to build better and healthier relationships in our lives and to learn to navigate challenging ones with less harm and drama for ourselves. It is a skill like any other that requires knowledge and practice but can lead to huge benefits for you and those around you.
Somehow, we still rely on the idea that building healthy relationships is something we are born with or just pick up as we go. Sure, we do get bits and pieces here and there, but they are not enough to give us the full skill set we need. It’s only enough for us to continue to repeat the same mistakes as our ancestors made.
As a therapist, I see incredible relationship transformations take place on daily basis:
Women and men who felt stuck and depressed begin to set boundaries with their spouses and in the process recover their strength and confidence. Overwhelmed and stressed employees who learn to navigate complicated power dynamics at work and refocus on what they have control over. Parents and their children divided by conflict find common ground and accept differences. While we can’t change other people, we can change how we react to others.
Start your personal transformation today by booking your free consultation with me and by downloading your Free relationship guide From WAR to PEACE – Click HERE.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my perspective about causes of chronic stress in our society. What are the biggest causes of stress in your life? What helps you navigate complicated relationships?
Your Global Therapist, Counselor & Coach