This episode represents the last of three bonus episodes that I have dedicated to talking about who we are not. Namely, out alter-ego that has a tendency to appear when we are under stress.
I introduced the concept of the alter-ego in Bonus Episode 18, Defining Who You Are Starts With Who You Are Not, and dove into two of the most common stress reactions in Bonus Episode 19, Common Stress Reactions That Derail You [Part 1].
In this episode I’m going to give an overview of two other common stress reactions and what you can do if you choose not to utilize these reactions in any given moment. I say choose because I want to underline that there is no right or wrong in how you respond to stress it’s just that some reactions will move you toward your goals while others will move you away from your goals.
Tolerating/coping: The Chameleon
While this stress reaction is much more agreeable and feels better than shutting down or over-reacting, if you constantly choose this method of dealing with stress you will never be truly happy. This is the stress reaction of choosing your battles but you must choose wisely.
While tolerating and coping are great short-term strategies they are debilitating long-term strategies.
For example, if you had guests coming for the weekend you're not likely to bring up and address every little thing they do that doesn't follow house rules or just plain gets on your nerves. They are there for a short time and the goal is to make your guests comfortable and for everyone to have a good time.
So, you tell yourself they just don't know better, you put it aside and move on.
However, if these guests are building a new home and out of the graciousness of your heart you offered to have them live with you for 3-6 months it would be a different story. In this instance you would be better off using a different strategy: having a conversation up front about house rules, expectations and strategies of dealing with conflict.
But many of us don't think to set expectations in advance. You see, we have been raised to be The Chameleon.
Listen in to identify where The Chameleon is showing up in your life and if you're interested in identifying all the areas of toleration in your life I’ve got a worksheet that can help you with that.
Focusing on Others: The Superhero Syndrome
Oh, how I love to help others. It makes me feel so good to solve other people's problems, give them a helping hand, and take some of the stress off their shoulders.
I especially love it when I don't want to deal with my own projects and problems.
Being able to focus on someone else for a while takes the attention off what's causing me stress in my own life. This is a sure-fire way for me to feel better for a little while.
The problem is while I'm off saving the day for someone else my own stuff gets neglected: my business, my home, my finances, my health, etc.
All you current and recovering people-pleasers, are you with me?!
Tell me if this sounds familiar. It starts as you giving out of the generosity of your own heart. You see a need that you know you can take care of and your instinct is to take care of it. Because that's you, your a giving person. It's part of your identity.
So you swoop in and contribute your time, energy and/or resources and it is so appreciated and makes a difference that you light up on the inside. It's like a drug. You get a jolt of the feel-goods so you do it again. And it starts to become a regular thing. So regular that other people stop relating to it as a gift that you generously, and with sacrifice to your own needs, give - and they start taking it for granted.
Now it's no longer a gift, it's an obligation and obligations don't make you feel good they make you feel burdened. But if you stopped giving people would wonder what's wrong with you, what made you so upset. And that's not you. You're not the type of person that takes things away just because you’re upset. That's childish and you’re not childish.
This is now a crisis to your identity. Continue to give resentfully or take it away and risk your reputation as a helpful, giving, generous person. So now you are on the hunt for any semi-valid excuse for why you can no longer give what's expected of you.
I mean, you can't possible just come out and say it no longer works for you to give or heaven forbid...ask to be recognized and appreciated for what you give. Heavens to Betsy, who the hell does that?!
All the while your own needs, your projects and your mission in life take a back seat - only to be given attention when there are deadlines, emergencies or wake-up calls.
And the saga continues. Cue the music.
Or maybe this is your wake-up call.
Listen in to hear more about The Superhero Syndrome and how you can prevent it from taking over your life.
Managing Your Alter-Ego
If it helps you to name your alter-ego, draw it, journal about it, or write a song about it. The more aware you are of this part of you the more power you will have over it.
When you know the thoughts, feelings and behaviors you have when your alter-ego has taken over - and what triggers those reactions - the better you will be at catching your alter-ego before it has done too much damage and you can handle the situation from there.
Trust me, knowing is half the battle. You are going to feel like a whole new woman as you start working through this process.
If you want help identifying your stress reactions I have an assessment I use with my clients that gets to the heart of the stress reactions that are running the show and keeping them from hitting their goals.
Just go to https://womentakingthelead.com/assessment/ to get more information and buy it if it’s the right next step for you.
Let me know what you thought of this episode and if you see your chameleon or superhero coming out in response to stress.
For more resources go to https://womentakingthelead.com