Archive for April, 2006

Posted on Apr 25th, 2006

When life becomes a bit too much to handle and I’m in need of some time out I use a simple technique, that of distraction; and for me at least, this works a treat.

When I do distraction, what I’m actually doing is breaking a pattern of my behavior. What this technique doesn’t include is shopping, telephoning or emailing friends because that’s what I would normally do during my working week.

I’ve listed several suggestions below that I’ve used in the past. Some have been joyful experiences and some worse than the reason why I needed a distraction in the first place.

As you read each one, write down in order of preference beginning with the suggestion that interests you most (however remotely), to the last which should be what interests you the least.

From this list try out the suggestions that interest you the least. Compare how you felt when you got out of bed to doing the least favored distraction.

Humor is good, absurd humor (for me) is even better. Absurd humor works very well for me and I have often used it successfully to distract me from thinking about things that have the capacity to turn an average day into a really bad day.

I remember the first time I did a public speaking gig in a large auditorium filled to capacity. Not naturally funny, it was suggested I open my speech with something witty. So I did. What did I hear? Crickets! I responded with “Well moving right along now…”

Some may find experiences such as this uncomfortable; I found it hugely funny and still do. Moral of this story for me is to stop trying to be funny because I’m not – and I think that’s hugely funny in itself.

To distract thoughts that have the potential to produce an unresourceful state, try one of the following suggested distractions (for men and women) … better still, try all of them if you haven’t already:

• Try out a new, intricate and complicated recipe – this will keep you going for awhile especially if you need to source obscure ingredients.

• Start an embroidery project, one with lots of different colored embroidery cotton.

• Read an autobiography – you may find their ‘real’ life experiences are much like ours, and sometimes worse!

• Complete a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of water scenes or the night sky.

• Read the white or yellow telephone pages – this will keep you busy for days on end.

• Choose a small area of garden and count the number of ants, and the species (apparently there are thousands), that run through in a four hour period.

• Count how many tiles you have in the bathroom and kitchen, and then do the same thing backwards.

• Start a knitting project.

• Start a sand art project using either bottles or paper.

• Paint your garden pots – better still watch paint dry!

• Bake a cake.

• Polish all your shoes and replace all shoe laces.

By distracting your self before plunging fully into an unresourceful state, you may find that good things have the potential to come to pass.

Your knitting or embroidery project could be a winner if entered in competitions, you could invite friends to share your newly baked cake or taste your intricate recipe, maybe you discover another species of ant, and your sand art project could just be the perfect gift for someone special.

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Michaela Scherr is a Transformational Coach, author of self help e-books and publisher of a monthly newsletter called From My Desk. Michaela is totally committed to helping others create positive and action oriented changes to their lives.

Posted on Apr 25th, 2006

Are you familiar with the phrase "Time heals all wounds?" This is one I often hear people say as they try to brush aside traumas and hurts in their lives.

But it is one of the most destructive cliches, simply because it sounds so close to the truth that it is difficult to spot the big lie here.

At risk of sounding too philosophical, time is an artificial structure that we have created, much like state or country lines. (Have you ever seen a state line? I used to look for them on the ground when I was a kid.)

What I say to clients when they say "time heals all wounds" is that time doesn’t heal anything, time simply passes. It is what we do with our lives while time is passing that either helps us, heals us or keeps us stuck.

In my work over the years, I have noticed that some people seem to have an ability to accept the hurts and disappointments of life and then move on. They have a certain resiliency.

Others seem to stay stuck in their pain, living as if the painful events of their lives had occurred just moments ago.

As I sought to understand the strategies of these different types of people, some interesting differences made themselves clear.

What follows are lists of strategies for how to remain miserable and then strategies for how to heal, move on, and thrive.

How to stay miserable

• Complain about the unfairness of it all. ("This should not have happened" - "How could anyone do such a thing?")

• Organize your life around the event, trauma or injustice. Make it a central theme in your life. Talk about nothing else. Bore your friends.

• Remain bitter and unforgiving. A wise friend of mine once said, "Not forgiving someone is much like trying to crush a sandspur between your fingers. You might eventually do it, but it sure is going to hurt."

• Become a victim. Give up your power to take responsibility and control over your own life.

• Play the scene over and over in your mind. Keep thinking of what you should have done or what you should have said.

How to movz on, heal and thrive

• Talk about it. Many of us mistakenly believe that if we keep it inside it won’t bother us. Quite the opposite is true. Remember the character -Tom Wingo in "Prince of Tides" and the damage done by not talking about the trauma that had happened in his family? Many times, getting it. out in the open can make it manageable.

• Forgive those involved. Forgiving does not condone what someone else did, it simply releases us from the pain of their actions.

• Most importantly, follow this favorite advice of mine:

"Make a place for the event in your life and then put it in its place."

It’s important to remember that it did happen and it did affect you. At the same time, its place is in the past, much like a chapter in a book you have read and choose not to read again.

• If you find yourself wanting to but unable to follow these suggestions, you may want to get professional help putting the past behind you.

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Posted on Apr 24th, 2006

Recently I did a “Google” on the key words “life balance”; it yielded me no less than 114,000,000 hits. The key words “work life balance” got me around 97,000,000 hits. Suffice it to say that work, life and balance between the two is quite a hot topic.

Balance = 50-50?

Given that fact, is there something objectively that we can call “life balance” or “work-life balance”, a place where we can go and know we have it? In other words: can work-life balance be defined, framed, boxed, for each and everyone of us?

No, in my opinion. Balance is always perceived balance, therefore it is an individual matter. And balance does not have to mean a 50-50 balance either. Work-life balance in my definition means satisfaction in all areas of our lives, feeling physically and emotionally healthy, feeling in control over lives. We can do everything that we feel needs to be done at work, but there is also a social life, and participation in the community. We set goals, make a plan, and stick with it.

Out of whack

In my life, I always sense that there IS actually something like work-life balance when the balance is thrown off! So I am doing okay up until a certain point, but then: life starts to feel out of whack, there is no time to do what I need to do, let alone what I WANT to do; family, social activities, work, they all start to encroach upon me; everything needs to be juggled, relationships seem to get tighter and tighter, work becomes even MORE demanding, I start to cross out weekends to at least have two days to myself, etc etc…………It is all too much.

Technology does not make it easier: e-mails, (mobile) phones, beepers, pagers, sms, video-messaging or -conferencing, voicemails, websites, magazines, newspapers………Information overload.

Moreover, “bosses” nowadays expect us to take on more work every day, work longer hours, more days; it is not surprising that the World Health Organisation calls work-related stress a “worldwide epidemic”. It makes us want to run into the woods, build a forest hut, light a campfire, catch some fish, maybe toast some marshmallows, and stay away from “civilisation” for at least an eon………….

The issue

So, what is really the issue? It’s not that we do not know the answer to the problem. Everyone can come up with good ideas to bring back the balance, like more exercise, delegating tasks, letting go of burdens, prioritising, work less hours, less days, share jobs, variable working weeks, learning to say “no”, etc. So why is there still so much lack of balance among many of us?

From a coaching perspective there is a different issue at hand: a VALUES conflict.

Values are a huge driver for our behaviour. They are the “things” that are most important to us as an individual. They are the answer we give to the question: “what is really important to you in…..?”, where the dots are the area in your life we are talking about, be it work, family, relationship, money, health, personal development, etc. Values are private, personal beliefs about “good” and “bad”, “right” and “wrong”, and therefore they are the foundation on which we base our judgments in life. Values can be words like honesty, integrity, love, balance, rest, fun, fear, worry, doubt” or sentences like “the world is a good/bad place”, “rain is beautiful/awful”, or “I do (not) like chocolate”, and so on.

Values are formed in us from the day we are born, mostly by are parents (“you should not be doing that; that is BAD”; “You are so beautiful; you will be famous”.), but also by peers, teachers, colleagues, and events in our lives. The interesting thing is that they are stored not in our conscious, reasoning mind, but in our subconscious, creative mind, so mostly we are not aware of what our values are –unless we start thinking about them. And as 95% of what we think and do is dictated by our subconscious beliefs, values determine our behaviour -and emotions- greatly, without us noticing much of it. In this case: you feel out of whack, but haven’t got a clue why exactly.

Our sense of not being balanced and feeling out of whack means there is inner conflict: our inner values are not reflected in our outer behaviour. We want this but do and get the other.

The solution

What is the solution? Well, we need to find out what we want our lives to look like; create a life vision, and sort out what “work-life balance” means to us as an individual. Most people do not do that. They live by default, always getting what they always got, and perpetuating that vicious cycle. Life happens TO them instead of FROM them. And exactly there is where we can start to make a difference. The more we realise that life is a product of our mind –we create our experience through our thoughts and then we assess what has happened through our thoughts again- the more we will be able to take responsibility for whatever the outcome is in our lives. Doing so will create more clarity that we are actually the ones that can change what happens to us in our lives. Life is no longer this ugly thing that happened to us one day and in which we now seem to be stuck.

Look, be fair, there will always be times when life gets thrown off-balance: a sudden holiday comes up, a baby is born, a huge storm blows the house down, we’re involved in a car accident, suddenly you are “promoted” to a foreign country, you fall ill, you win the lottery, you receive an invitation for a wedding next day, etc. Generally though, it is about striking an equilibrium in all aspects of our lives, as far as this is within our power.


In my coaching and NLP practise there are a couple of really cool exercises we would do to get you to find out what your highest values in your life are, and to help you put these values into action. With the exercises you can get the balance you were looking for. As we are not looking at each other right now, let me give you some tips that will help you to get more clarity for now:

-Recognise where you are and how you are feeling right now regarding your work and life. Is there balance? And if not, can you pinpoint where there is lack of balance? Which values are infringed upon?

-Identify several tangible, short-term goals. Setting goals usually will create more balance immediately as you are creating a vision.

-Don’t be a lone ranger. Ask for support, whether from family, friends, colleagues, your community or your boss. Tell them you are off-balance and want to improve the situation. Honesty is nearly always appreciated.

-Be strict on boundaries between work and private life. There is a huge grey field, and if you let it your life becomes more and more grey and blurry.

-Assess your general life style. Your professional and/or working conditions may be fantastic, if you eat and drink too much (or unhealthily), sleep too little, exercise too little, smoke, use drugs and think negatively all the time, you will feel lack of balance regardless.

-Hire a coach (but that’s quite self-explanatory); a coach will get you on track and keep you there. I can guarantee you that (if you choose to commit).

Rest assured that life will not be dull ever; there will be times you are challenged and the scales are tipped. It is on YOU to restore the balance by looking at what is really important to you in your life. And that will require action. The system works. Are you willing to work the system?

Marc de Bruin
Landmarc Coaching & Health Solutions

Marc is a certified life/business coach and master NLP Practitioner on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. He specialises in coaching people at critical junctions in their careers and/or lives, in order for them to find out what has been hindering them all along in achieving what they want, and to then make the conscious choice to take their lives and/or careers to the next level.

Having been a lawyer for nearly 6 years in his “previous life”, before immigrating to Australia from The Netherlands, Marc knows exactly how daunting taking the first step in a new direction can be. On the other hand, he also knows how fulfilling taking that step is, and has the knack of imparting his knowledge and wisdom in a stunningly simple and highly effective way.

Posted on Apr 24th, 2006

1. The first thing to make clear is that I look at handling stress a little bit differently from many others. Typically, people focus on how to reduce or eliminate the stress in their lives.

Their focus is on surviving stress.

My belief is that their focus is too narrow and limited.

My focus, by contrast, is on how to thrive on the stress in your life, how to make it work for you.

2. What’s stressful can vary greatly. What some people call stressful, others find exciting. If you don’t believe me, just ask five different people what they think of rollercoaster rides or horror movies.

3. It’s also important to make a distinction between stress and pressure. Stress comes from the outside, while pressure is an inside job.

4. Are you familiar with how diamonds are created? Diamonds start out as lumps of coal, usually deep within a mountain. Over time, the coal responds to stress and pressure in such a way as to form diamonds. That’s why my favorite quote about stress is:

"A diamond is nothing more than a lump of coal that handled stress really well."

5. It is possible to be overstressed, enjoy stress too much or even be addicted to stress. One sure sign of a stress addiction is that when various things come up in your life, you create a crisis in order to get your stress fix.

6. Flexibiiity helps us overcome stress. Which do you think handles stress better, an oak tree or a willow tree? This is really a trick question, because it’s natural to think an oak tree would be stronger.

But think a moment. Picture a branch of an oak tree, strong but stiff. In the winter, snow piles up on the branch until it breaks.

Now picture the branch of a willow tree. It too is strong. It’s also flexible. As the snow piles up, it’s able to bend and let the snow slide off. It bends but doesn’t break.

The relevance of this analogy to stress in our lives is obvious.

7. One of the biggest sources of stress for many people is something I call the Too Many Hats Syndrome, or TMH for short. All of us have so many different hats to wear. parent, spouse, worker, with many roles within each category.

8. Sometimes, we feel as if we were in a sideshow at the circus, the one with the guy spinning plates on a stick and running around to keep, all the plates spinning.

The best way I’ve found to make all the plates work for us is to organize, organize, organize. If at this point you are saying, "I just don’t have time to organize," you’re proving my point.

9. We all also have to deal with stressful, even traumatic, events and situations in our lives. And often, we have to move on right away from one stressful event to the next. We don’t get or take adequate time to recover.

10. A key difference between people who thrive and people who just survive stress is how they talk to themselves about the stress.

Faced with too much to do, those who just survive say things such as, "How will I ever get all this done?" or "Why does this always happen to me?" Then they wonder why they feel even more stressed-out.

Visit The Article Guy for more leading edge tips and tools for writing articles that bring you prospects, publicity and profits. You can also subscirbe to our monthly Article Empire Tips Newsletter. You are also invited to visit my Express-Start Article Writing Program for more information on the next article writing tele-seminar.

Posted on Apr 23rd, 2006

Recently, as I was surfing around the web, I found yet another website offering misguided, uninformed and irrelevant advice to people who are stressed, depressed or anxious. The site had the following advice for sufferers:

“Most people who become stressed, anxious or depressed do so because they are experiencing financial difficulties. Debt is a big problem for a lot of people, and many struggle to service debts because they are on a low income. Other factors include poverty, unemployment, and a feeling of worthlessness because financial aspirations haven’t been met. Money is one of the biggest causes of stress and depression in the Western world.”

It is a statement I have seen and heard from many people, from medical professionals to sufferers and of course, in many publications and websites. I’m sure you too will have either been told money is the root cause of your problems or heard it from various sources.

Identifying money as the root cause of stress, depression and anxiety is wholly inaccurate and completely wrong. Financial circumstances, no matter what they are, CANNOT cause you to become stressed, depressed and anxious. In fact, they have NOTHING to do with the root cause of these problems WHATSOEVER.

It is so easily proved it’s amazing that some people believe otherwise.

If financial hardships and poverty cause people to enter into an episode of mental trauma, then everyone who is poor, is in debt, or earns a low income must, by definition, be stressed, depressed or anxious. You are saying that if you are poor you must be stressed, depressed or anxious. Agreed?

Following on from this, logic would then dictate:

If you are wealthy, without debt and earning a high income, you cannot be depressed, stressed or anxious because the root cause doesn’t exist in your life.

To simplify: Poverty causes stress, depression and anxiety. Wealth does not.

Clearly, reality is greatly at odds with this.

Not everybody who has debts, earns a minimum wage, is poor and endures financial hardship is stressed, depressed or anxious. Indeed, many people throughout the world live in extreme poverty and yet they’re happy. Like me, I’m sure you know people who have very little but are perfectly happy with their lives.

And let’s not forget that many famous, wealthy people also suffer from stress, depression and anxiety. Abraham Lincoln, Rod Steiger, Winston Churchill, Robbie Williams are names that spring immediately to mind. In my own case, I reached my lowest point having paid off all of my debts including the mortgage and having more assets than ever before in my life.

None of it mattered to me at all.

The last line also gives an insight into how self-worth doesn’t derive from financial success. I drove a $25,000 sports car, owned two houses outright and had many investments and yet I felt life had nothing for me, that having lost everyone and everything I ever loved I’d completely ruined my life beyond repair and I just couldn’t take anymore.

So you can see, financial hardship does not and cannot cause you to become stressed, depressed or anxious. And financial success doesn’t mean that you’ll be free from mental trauma. That’s because the root cause as to why anyone enters into an episode of stress, depression and anxiety is because they perform flawed, harmful modes of thinking to make sense out of the circumstances they are faced with.

Address the modes of thinking at the root of these problems and you’ll take a giant stride towards conquering stress, depression and anxiety whether you’re as poor as a church mouse or as wealthy as a King.

Copyright 2006 Christopher Green

Former anxiety sufferer Chris Green is the author of “Conquering Stress”, the internationally acclaimed program which will help you to permanently conquer stress, depression and anxiety without taking powerful drugs. For more information please click here =>

Posted on Apr 23rd, 2006

At the end of each day, are you able to relax, knowing you had spent part of your day on worthwhile things?

If you don’t like your answer to the question above, well, you’re definitely not the only one.

In our fast-paced world, it is incredibly easy to get caught up in just getting through each day. No wonder we rarely stop to consider if what we are doing is worthwhile.

Consider the words of the late I singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, speaking about his grandfather:

"My grandfather was a painter. He died at age 88. He illustrated Robert Frost’s first two books of poetry. He was looking at me one day and he said, `Harry, there’s two kinds of tired. There’s goodtired and there’s bad-tired. Ironically enough, bad-tired can be a day in which you won, but you won other people’s battles, you lived other people’s days, other people’s agendas and dreams, and when it’s all over, there’s very litte you in there, and when you hit the hay at night, you toss and turn, you don’t settle easy.

Good-tired, ironically enough, can be a day in which you lost, but you knew you fought your battles, you chased your dreams, you lived your days. And when you hit the hay at night, you settle easy, you sleep the sleep of the just, and you can say, "Take me away."

Harry, all my life I wanted to be a painter. So I painted. God, I would have loved to have been more successful. But I painted and painted. And I am good-tired, and they can take me away."

Sounds like a life well-lived.

Signs of Bad Tired

• A constant feeling of "one step up and two steps back" (to quote Bruce Springsteen).

• A growing sense of futility.

• A feeling akin to this one: "Our souls are leaking. We are in a recession and we are receding." Bad-tired makes you feel you have lost something at the end of each day.

Signs of Good-Tired

• You have a passion for what you are doing.

• Each day or week brings with it a sense of contribution, even if only in some small way.

• Do what you love. If you do what you love, good-tired comes easy. You spend your working day doing things you would enjoy even if you were not paid for them (I recommend keeping that a secret, though)

Bad tired or good tired? How would you like to end your day?

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Posted on Apr 22nd, 2006

Life is not always a pleasant walk down the garden path.Who has not known pain and anguish? Who has not suffered the wounds of a relationship discord? Problems are challenges life casts our way.

We navigate through the detours and face dead-ends in our journey. We set sail, aware of the possibility of stormy weather that can develop overnight. But we are determined to ride out the storm and not get lost in it.

At times, we take more than we can handle. We are caught up in giving ourselves to the call of duty. We tend to justify the demands on our time and energy. We forget that the world will go on, with or without us.

Life goes in cycles - sometimes the cycle is up, then it goes down, like the spokes of a wheel. Sorrow and grief comes to everyone sooner or later.

A grieving heart affects the mind, body and spirit deeply. Sometimes the pain is buried so deeply where no one can reach it, much less touch it.

Frustrations, failures, relationship issues, career and family concerns, financial issues, health problems and having too much on the plate all add up to stress.

Do you listen to the signs your body sends to slow down or take a much needed rest? There is only so much pain or suffering one can bear. There is a limit to human endurance.

Peace becomes elusive. Perspective is not as sharp, there is too much clutter in the mind.

It helps to get away from the source of conflict to gain a better perspective and to re-group your thoughts.Take a vacation. If this is not feasible, a day away from it all will probably do.

But take a breather. This is not running away, woes are still hovering over and waiting. Taking a respite from it all paves the way to healing the accumulated emotional and mental stress.

Anxiety and worry cloud anyone’s judgment. Perhaps, there is a need to cut some slack for now. What would you change if you were faced with the same situation?

Take the time to re-evaluate and re-assess your priorities. It is a time to step back and look after your needs. Relax, catch your breath, even for a short time, because you have to take the next step. The battle is not over.

Plan the next stage, for life’s problems do not dissipate into thin air. Pull yourself together, empower yourself so that your thoughts and actions are in harmony with your highest truth of who you are. Validate your beliefs.

Deep wounds need healing and this takes time. Retreat is a good start- retreat from all that is worrisome, confusing and aggravating. Quiet time and time alone to reflect is a good way to clear the mental clutter and move on.

This is the time to recharge your energies. It is a time to heal, mind, body and soul. It is a time to recognize the chaos and confusion that can cause illusions or delusions and make peace so elusive.

Forgive what needs to be forgiven. Forgiveness can be liberating.

Healing takes time, allow yourself that. Remember, time is a great healer, if you let it.

Bonnie Moss writes to inspire and to motivate her readers to explore the depths of their heart and soul. She draws from personal experience and her interest in the New Age . Visit her website :

Posted on Apr 22nd, 2006

I. The IEOE (Instant Expert On Everything)

This is the classic "know-itall." On the old TV show "Cheers," it was Cliff, the mailman. Expert on everything, complete with facts you and no other rational person cares to know. Particularly irritating when they wander into your area of expertise.

Key Strategy: There’s an old saying that goes "I would rather remain quiet and be thought a fool than to open my mouth and remove all doubt." In other words, let the IEOEs ramble on, they will eventually expose themselves for what they are.

2. The IHTBMI (It Has To Be My Idea)

These fine folks are the -ones who have to block any idea or suggestion that is not their own. Especially fun to work with on a staff or committee.

Key Strategy: Ask their opinion on an idea before it’s presented. It gives them the illusion of involvement and ownership. Just be sure they don’t steal your idea.

3. The YB (Yes, Butt-ers)

These are the bozos that can find the exception to any rule and tell you in detail why something won’t work. Their favorite pastime is setting you up to make suggestions they can shoot down.

Key strategy: Silence. It exposes the game. Also, use them to your advantage. They are great people to consult when you want to check your thinking or find the flaws in a plan.

4. The STAID (Shark That Acts Like a Dolphin)

This breed of bozo is particularly dangerous because he or she is usually well-disguised. They look like dolphins and then act like sharks.

Key Strategy: Would you swim with dolphins in the water? Sure, it could be fun. Would you swim with sharks in the water? Not likely. If you have to swim with sharks, protect yourself accordingly.

And always remember with whom you are swimming.

Visit The Article Guy for more leading edge tips and tools for writing articles that bring you prospects, publicity and profits. You can also subscirbe to our monthly Article Empire Tips Newsletter. You are also invited to visit my Express-Start Article Writing Program for more information on the next article writing tele-seminar.

Posted on Apr 21st, 2006

“Stress is bad.” You will receive this opinion about stress (or some variation of it) from almost anyone you ask. It is drummed into us from childhood onwards, with people pointing to almost any illness or unfortunate outcome and making the link to the unchecked presence of “stress” (among other things) in the unfortunate victim’s history. “If only they had managed their stress better” they solemnly intone, shaking their heads in dismay and warning, “this could have been prevented”. As a child I inwardly swore to never let stress into MY life as an adult, placing it along side stern messages to avoid heroin addiction, unprotected sex with multiple high-risk partners, and failure to tithe on Sundays.

So how did such a foul beast as stress creep into our collective experience? What purpose could there ever have been in the creation of the stress response, or does it simply belong to the same category as the Seven Deadly Sins (they’re not your fault – just avoid them)?

The stress response, it turns out, is one of evolution’s best tricks to ensure that human beings survive long enough to pass along their genes to the next generation. Let’s take the example of a semi-mythical ancestor, the caveman. Imagine our caveman walking down a prehistoric trail in search of dinner, when from around a corner a hungry and ill-tempered overgrown cave bear appeared on the path. The caveman had two choices to pick from for a chance at survival. He could fight the bear and hope to kill it with a skillful blow, or he could run like crazy in the opposite direction. (Cavemen who opted for the third choice - holding still while the bear made a meal of them - had their genes quickly removed from the caveman gene pool.)

Whether the caveman chose to fight or run, his body’s response to the stressful situation was identical. The perception of danger by his mind was converted to electrical signals that traveled along his nervous system to various organs in his body, which released hormones that prepared him to survive the short-term episode of danger. The sequence of events is still the same for people today. Biologists refer to it as the “fight-or-flight” reaction.

Epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) is released from the adrenal glands into the bloodstream. Within seconds, the pupils dilate to admit the maximum amount of light, the bronchioles dilate to admit the maximum amount of air, the heart rate increases, the blood pressure rises, blood vessels to deep muscles dilate at the same time as blood vessels to the skin constrict (to promote muscle movement and prevent blood loss in case of wounds), and alertness and sensitivity to the environment are at their maximum. Cortisol, the body’s natural steroid, is also released by the adrenal glands as an aide to helping the body survive the short-term bout of extreme stress. In addition, the liver converts stored glycogen into a burst of glucose that floods the bloodstream and feeds the cells that are most active during the stress reaction. Blood flow is shunted away from areas of the body that are not required for short-term survival (such as the digestive tract) in order to ensure adequate pressure for those muscles and organs that will promote survival. This cascade of events has been so successful at keeping organisms alive through periods of danger that biologists find it in some form in almost every animal above the single-cell level of organization.

Let’s assume that the caveman lived to tell the tale. He either killed the bear, or outran it (or at least ran faster than the cave man next to him, thus selecting for speed in the gene pool). He returned to the family cave, where his perception was that he was safe once more. The electrical signals from his brain that were triggering his endocrine organs to release stress hormones into his bloodstream slowed or stopped. His pupils, bronchioles, heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow distribution, and level of awareness all returned to their normal levels. He was able to eat a meal and digest it properly, and then fall into a well deserved slumber at the back of the cave.

Seen in this context, stress is recognized as an adaptive mechanism that is important for the survival of the human body during periods of short-term crisis. Where stress becomes a maladaptive response is when the mind perceives the environment as always stressful. We never get to the point where we are “back to the cave”. The body, unaware of whether our perceptions of the environment as stressful are appropriate or not, simply reacts with the same mechanisms that have been keeping people alive for countless generations. That doesn’t always work well for us in today’s world. More about that in the next article.

To review: cute stress has signs and symptoms which may include a racing heart beat, rapid breathing, palpitations, hyper-vigilance, muscular tension, pale skin (like a ghost), wide-eyed stare, and an inability to concentrate on abstract thoughts. In emergency situations these reactions serve to keep us alive, but they are not healthy for us over long periods of time.

Timothy Dey, M.D. is a speaker and educator who makes a unique combination of educational assets and life experiences available to people through his coaching, consulting, teaching, writing, and workshops. He is a graduate of the Wayne State University School of Medicine, a certified comprehensive coach, and adjunct professor in multiple fields. He creates courses and teaches for online colleges in the areas of leadership, communication, corporate culture, and stress-management skills, as well as pharmacology and other health-related topics. Dr. Dey works extensively with hospital systems, residency programs, attending physicians, and executives seeking expert guidance in interpersonal communication skills, physician-patient relationships, and goal-oriented coaching. As co-founder of The Dey Group, Inc., he is available through his website, e-mail at or by phone at 313-383-0582, and welcomes all contacts.

Posted on Apr 21st, 2006

Q. I work with several people in my office whom I would call difficult people. They are hard to please and get along with, and many of them are know-it alls. I don’t want to change jobs, but I also don’t want to lose my temper or, even worse, act like they do. Any suggestions you would have to offer would be helpful.

A. Doesn’t it seem like, more and more, they are all around us? All those bozos - what the reader is calling difficult people - who seem to cross our paths every day.

Whether we associate with them, work with them, or, even worse, live with them, they can drain the life right out of your day if you let them.

In part one we’ll look at my three general rules on dealing with the bozos, and in part two we’ll look at specific types and how to handle them.

3 general rules

General Rule 1 - You cannot, will not and should not even try to change them. The only winning move, if you can’t avoid them altogether, is to. change your responses to them. Remember the three things we are always responsible for: our attitudes, our choices and our actions.

General Rule 2 - In order to successfully deal with difficult people, you have to play the "I can expect that" game. To play this game, you have to expect difficult people to act exactly like difficult people. The trap we fall into is that we expect everyone to play by the same nice rules and then are shocked, surprised and hurt when the bozos show up and act the way they do.

Playing the "I can expect that" game with difficult people allows us to do at least three things:

1. We can anticipate and plan for their behavior.

2. We are not surprised by their behavior.

3. We can respond to their behavior, instead of reacting.

General Rule 3 - You and I might be someone else’s bozo. Now that’s a different take on it, isn’t it? Stop and consider your own behavior, to make sure you’re not being the bozo in someone else’s life.

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