Quick, by a show of hands, how many of you feel you have too much stress in your life? Over the years 98% of everyone I have spoken to has told me they have too much negative stress and it makes them feel sick, exhausted and miserable. But not many of those people believe their stress is self-imposed? That’s right. 98% of people believe they have negative stress, but that same 98% of the people who feel stressed, believe their stress is NOT self-imposed. Our negative stress feels as though it is flooding us from the outside like a tsunami, but what if we are flooding ourselves from the inside and we don't even realize it?
The truth is most people create their own feelings of stress. How? Stress is not usually caused by what happens to you, but instead, it is caused by the meaning you give to what happens to you. We are so much more competent and capable of creating both the magic and the misery in our lives. I know, I know, you have heard all that thought management stuff, like “attitude is everything”, or “what you think about, comes about” but consider what if you really do influence your negative stress levels and might not be aware of it?
As a personality and relationship expert, I have seen each of the six sections of the color personality wheel bring dis-stress to their lives when they go into their extreme color personality tendencies. Do any of these look familiar to you?
6 Extreme Personality Tendencies that can cause dis-stress, and you can control:
Red Extreme tendency: Telling yourself you don’t have enough, especially money? You are not alone with this negative narrative. Rarely does anyone believe they have enough money. People have a tendency to live at least 10% over their standard of living and that extra 10% can create enormous stress. Even people who are worth millions have panic attacks about money. “How can that be?” you ask. It seems that people who don’t have money worry about getting more money, and people who have money, worry about keeping it. So it isn’t the amount of money that usually causes the most stress, but the narrative we have with regard to money that succeeds at making us anxious.
We often forget about the things there are to enjoy that don't cost a lot of money. Picnics are basically free, except for the food and wine you are probably buying anyway. Sunsets are always free. Writing a poem is free. You can share a loaf of Italian bread and a not so expensive bottle of wine and have a wonderful time. In fact, before Covid, I used to hear many people who have a great deal of money complain that taking trips to out of the country was very stressful, and during Covid they complained that not taking trips out of the country was very stressful so there you have it, we can create stress even when we are doing, and not doing, what other people only dream of doing.
Yellow Extreme tendency: No one appreciates me. I deserve more. Do you feel taken advantage of? This belief actually gets you nowhere. Let’s say you are being taken advantage of – consider other options. Let’s say that you only believe you are being taken advantage of – how does that belief inhibit your happiness and contribute to your stress? I have found that when we begin to truly appreciate others, others appreciate us in return. Ask yourself, “Whom do I appreciate?” “Do others know how much I appreciate them?” Appreciation, like respect, is a give then get proposition. Besides, appreciating others will actually make you as happy as it makes them.
Purple Extreme tendency: You are married to a psycho, have lazy children and/or a irresponsible boss. Even if this is true, have you considered how you might be contributing to any of these problems? Does your wife behave like a psycho because you never come home and when you do you are still always working? Are your children lazy because they don't follow your to-do list to the letter? Is your boss irresponsible because they do not approach their job as effectively and efficiently as you believe they should? I recommend a great book called Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute. Read this book and then think more deeply about the roots of your psycho relationships.
Blue Extreme tendency: I have too much to do, and too little time. No one can do it like me. This too much to do stress is usually self-imposed. Do you not have enough time or do you have a tendency to procrastinate? Do you believe you work best under pressure and when you hire, or work with other people, they simply don't do it as well as you can? Do you have a life that has a balance of fun and work? We can cause enormous stress in our lives by procrastinating because it is stressful when things begin to fall off your plate. Do you cause more stress for yourself by waiting til the last minute? It is worth asking yourself about.
Green Extreme tendency: No one listens. They are selfish and focused on the wrong values. My question is, “Do you listen?” It has been my experience that most people who complain about NOT being listened to are usually the same people who don’t listen. Try an experiment. Ask your partner, your children or family members, your co-workers and your supervisor, “Do you think I listen?” “How would you rate my listening skills?” If you get high marks from everyone around you, then you are probably right, no one listens to you, but it is worth the research to know for sure.
Extreme Orange tendency: Your unhappiness and frustration is NOT My problem. A great deal of stress comes from a person’s inability to accept personal responsibility for commitments they make to others. When we promise we will get something done that isn't as much fun and doing something else, it is your problem that you broke your commitment and failed another person. When we feel like we are just trying to live our lives and have a good time and everyone wants to boss us around, it creates more stress in our lives because we are constantly living our lives on the defensive. Your life IS YOUR responsibility. It is YOUR life. When you make commitments and then have too much to drink to remember to follow through, that is your responsibility. Take responsibility for it and you will find that you feel more empowered and you will also discover that they choices you make are much more positive and enlightened.
Try a little experiment: Start giving some of what you want. I believe that it will no only lower some of the stress in your life, but I believe it will make you happier. Your happiness or misery is ultimately in your hands.
Relationship and personality expert Dawn Billings is the founder of RelationshipHelp.com and ONLINE relationship program, Relationship Help At Home.
Dawn is the executive director of the luxury RelationshipHelpResort.com in Arizona where she hosts private couples therapy intensives.