Thursday, June 5, 2014

#SmallSuccess: Beating Stress at Its Own Game

Stress can cripple me.

I simply hide in my bed (or in a book or a project) and let the day just roll out as it will. But the fact of the matter is that hiding from stress rarely solves any problems, but rather, creates many more down the road.

But stress can help me, too. It can motivate me to get things done and sometimes it warns me that my priorities are out of sync.

This week I experienced grace under pressure with a few situations I faced down. And the unifying factor was prayer. When I place the stress in Jesus' lap, somehow it all works out.

Stress can be a very bad thing, but properly handled it can be a motivator. It's that "properly handled" thing that always gets me, though. So this week, my Small Successes have to do with facing problems squarely and handling them as best I can. Here's what I learned:

1) I went to confession.

Yes, this was stressful. No, it should not have been. I had gotten away from saying my prayers first thing in the morning and going to a daily mass at some point during the week. And, I had given up going to Adoration, too. When I'm not putting God first, I sure do feel it. And so does everyone else around me!

That was my first lesson for the week: Handle Stress With Prayer.

2) I signed my contract for the Dublin Irish Festival, reviewed the program for the Mass in Irish and even made a phone call and talked to an actual person.

These are all huge steps for me. Interpersonal interaction scares me. What if someone doesn't like me? What if I do something wrong? So, I put off little tasks like phone calls and emails because I might not do it perfectly. I know: Silly.

My perfectionism is a rejection of God's control in my life. It's me saying, "I've got this, Lord." And when I do that, I dismiss the grace that God has to give me to help me. The perfection game, is related to the stress game in my experience. When I put too much importance on small things, they become big things. Like links in the chains that bind me, the little things can keep me from going places just as surely as the shackles of the big things.

That was my second lesson for the week: Don't Pile Up The Small Stuff.

3) I handled a family problem that needed to be addressed and didn't lose my cool.

Anger is my biggest weakness. Circumventing it is not my strong suit. So, when a family situation arose and I had to defend someone I love, I was pretty happy that I was clear headed enough to think critically, act decisively and wisely, and to do it all without raising my voice. If I can remain in control of my emotions, then people who try to bully me have no power. It's when I lose my temper that they gain the upper hand. But it's important to remember that I can't do it alone. I can only do it through prayer.

That was my third lesson: Don't Let Bullies Dictate How You Behave.

All three of these lessons can help beat stress. If I'm reacting instead of being proactive, then I am more likely to feel out of control and stressed out. And, if I have no choice but to react, prayer works wonders.

Okay, your turn! Share 'em if ya got 'em!


  1. Those are great successes! What an awesome week! It's funny, I get paralyzed after the fact, like I said something stupid, I've ruined the friendship, I've damaged someone. I spend time after the fact presuming I've not done what I should have, but it's the same fault, thinking I have to get this done perfectly, and not trusting to God to work things out of my words and actions to His ends. Prayers for next week to be as steeped in grace as this one was.

    1. It's funny how that you would say that it was steeped in grace. Honestly, I felt like I was really scrambling to keep up. It's what philosophers might refer to as a Unity-of-Opposites - In the stress and the panic, you find the grace and you don't find it as effectively when there's no stress..

  2. These are BIG successes! I relate to so many of the things you said here. And I need to get back in the prayer habit. That tends to go by the wayside when my alter ego, Sub Ninja, has to come out to play.