These examples should help you see that, as paradoxical as it seems, stress can be a sanctuary. The problem is that as time goes by, the stress hormones and behaviors that once created fearlessness or euphoria become ineffective, then counterproductive. Take it from me: Even if you're only mildly addicted to stress, it's best to get into rehab now. You'll find the compulsion to fret becomes much less severe if you employ the following strategies:
Let yourself go. Indulge your desire to flee by running or walking quickly, and you'll find yourself calmer about everything. If your stress reaction is anger, punching and kicking are wonderfully salubrious, even if you're just shadowboxing.
Give in to your stress. Most stress junkies try to break their habit by telling themselves, Stay calm, dammit! This is like trying to put out a fire with gunpowder. A simple acknowledgment like "I'm scared and that's okay" eliminates the escalating response caused by resisting those feelings.
Care for the worried one. Try welcoming your worried heart as you would a traumatized guest. Ask yourself, Why are you in pain? How can I help? The attitude of kindness will go a long way toward breaking the addiction.
By giving our stress-addicted side permission to act, to feel, and to receive care, we establish what we were after all along: a sanctuary where our wounds can heal and we can hear the voice of our true self. We grow calmer. We become a force for peace, instead of panic, not only for ourselves, but for everyone whose life touches ours.
More Insight From Martha Beck
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