Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 88 of 149 
Next page End Contents 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93  

cause, produced "good stress" which gives us a rush or a "high"
feeling. Good stress keeps us motivated and enthusiastic about life.
So, Selye recommended that we expose ourselves to as many good
stresses as we can handle, so long as we don't get over loaded. When
a person becomes over loaded with good or bad stress, he/she should
use the energy in a way that works off some tension, e.g. playing
tennis, jogging, walking, doing aerobics, hard physical work, etc. In
short, make stress work for you. Turn frustrating obstacles into
exciting challenges. 
A related concept is that we need some stress--some pressure, not
too much--to do our best. Every athlete knows that he/she needs keen
competition to become his/her best. Every student should be aware
that the quality of his/her education is, in large measure, determined
by the motivation and ability of the competing students. The wise
person seeks, welcomes, and uses this pressure to achieve his/her
own highest potential. 
Develop toughness and skills
Physical demands must be made on the body to develop strength, we
must be exposed to bacteria and diseases to develop immunity to
them, and humans may need to be exposed to stresses and emotions
before we develop coping mechanisms and toughness. Type A
personalities with their hurried, competitive, tough, aggressive
behavior are actually weak at coping with stress, their bodies take a
long time to return to normal after becoming upset (and they have a
lot more illness and die earlier). Dienstbier (1989) points out that
people in very demanding and responsible positions develop very
healthy reactions to stress, providing they are in control and have an
opportunity to cope. If you give someone lots of responsibility and
little power, however, they develop very unhealthy reactions, including
feeling helpless. 
How do you develop toughness? By being repeatedly exposed to
demanding situations while having the skills, power, courage, and
confidence to deal with the challenges. It may help you become
psychologically tough if you physically exercise, but I suspect you
must gradually handle more and more stressful, difficult problems and
interactions at work or in your personal life, not just in the gym. Thus,
using relaxation methods to overcoming fears is only the beginning;
true toughness and durability comes after hard knocks. As we
discussed in Exposure above, our attitude has to change from "I can't
stand it" to "I can handle it." 
Salvatore Maddi and Suzanne Kobasa (1984) studied healthy
executives and tried to discover ways of increasing toughness. They
found hardy people were (a) committed to their work (they, like self-
actualizers, have a mission they believe in), (b) have a sense of
control over what happens in their life, and (c) zestfully seek and take
Previous page Top Next page

« Back