Stress Management: Change the Labels

From a very young age we are taught to label our experiences as either good or bad. If a situation made us feel stressed we labelled it as bad. If it made us feel happy and cheerful we labelled it as good. This article focuses on one important stress management tool – that of being mindful of the label we place on people and situations.

Labelling our experiences as either good or bad sets up a mindset of polarity thinking. This means that we think in opposites: black and white; right and wrong; happy or sad; positive and negative. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it only gives us two choices in which to think about a situation. It’s either one or the other. There is no grey and because we so often default to thinking negatively the chances are we will, more often than not, choose the bad label. In doing so, we sabotage our stress management ability.

We never really know when something is a good thing or a bad thing. Can you know for certain which of your experiences will be good or bad upfront? How often have you labelled an experience as bad and it turned out to be favourable in the end?

We rarely know how things will turn out and by preemptively labelling something we take the risk of either becoming stressed for no reason or being disappointed down the track. Our stress management takes another knock.

When you label something as bad, your focus and attention is directed to all the negative aspects of the situation and your outlook becomes bleak. The same goes for your emotions and the creation of stress. The irony of labelling something as bad is that you may cause the outcome of the situation to be negative by focusing your attention on creating that scenario. If you take a more unbiased view of your situation by refusing to label it you become objective and reduce the possibility of derailing your stress management opportunity.

To help ensure that your stress management is on the right track you need to change the labels you give your experiences. Stay away from labelling things as good or bad and try using different terminology, such as interesting, unique challenging, exciting, different, transforming, etc.

Putting your stress management technique it into practise. Take a moment to think about a situation you’re in right now that is causing you to feel stressed.

Stress Management Step 1
Check to see if you have placed any labels on it. Are you calling the situation bad, stressful, hopeless, irritating, depressing, frustrating, etc?

Stress Management Step 2
Once you have identified the label recognise that it is responsible for the way you are feeling.

Stress Management Step 3
Change the label. Think of terminology you can use to describe the situation in a more positive way. Choose the label that best describes the way you would like to feel about the situation.

Stress Management Step 4
Talk about the situation using the new label.

Stress Management Step 5
Check your levels of stress.

Living each day as an opportunity to develop an understanding of yourself and others makes life an exciting adventure. With this mindset the notion of a bad experience ceases to exit, instead becoming something that paves the way for growth and opportunity.

What a wonderful way of looking at the world and what a powerful technique that will enhance your stress management success.

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