The power of used stress

Sunday, May 1, 2011 1:46 AM Posted by Molly MacIntyre 1 comments
There is one quote that has been on my mind for the past year or so..."The space between who you are and who you want to be, is pain." As a student intern in a chiropractic clinic, I have begun to see this more and more with my patients. And obviously it's not just my patients who deal with this, but all of us. If we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we all know what we need to do, we just can't seem to rally enough emotional strength at the most opportune moment to win our internal battle. But when that visceral throbbing is greater by remaining idle, we can't help but change... it's innate... it's how we are wired.
There is a theory, the theory of used stress, which is just too incredible not to mention. It's the idea that our brains are designed to fill in the gap between our current circumstances and what we desire do to or have. For example... remember when you were 16. You just got your license, and while you were happy enough driving around in the families minivan something caught your eye... that car. The one that you might, just possibly, could maybe have, if only you had a little more money. So days and weeks go by and something crazy happens... everywhere you look you see that red striped Mini Cooper S convertible (ok so that was my favorite; now all I see are Kawasaki Ninja's). So what happened? Could it be that everyone started buying mini coopers and that is why you see them everywhere?... well no, obviously not, there was something much more complex going on in your brain. What happened is your brain has a built in system that automatically attempts to fill in the gap between your reality and your desire to own that car. It looks for that car everywhere. Where before the car came and went and your brain didn't take notice, it now takes every opportunity to remind you of your desires. The incredible thing about this built in ability your brain has for solving problems, is that you can use it to get yourself to do things you didn't think possible. How then, can we utilize the power of "used stress" to motivate ourselves? The stress is the "ahh I want that car, but I don't the money" feeling. Or, to use another example, it's the "I hate my job, but I don't know what I want to do" feeling.  What we do now is we take that stress, and USE it, just like we would uses power to turn on a light bulb or gasoline to fuel a car. If the stress is strong enough your brain is already engulfed in its desire to solve the problem, so with a little research, some motivation, and some time... the solution is found. You have utilized the stress to motivate your brain, already focused on problem solving to find a solution.
What happens way to often is people do what I call "the stuff."  Picture a small closet full of junk; and every so often someone comes with a big black garbage bag, opens the door as fast as they can, throws the bag inside and quickly slams the door as they push against it just to get it closed... and sometimes it just won't hold. "The stuff" is when someone takes the stresses of their unfulfilled dreams and desires, and shoves them into a closet... day after day more and more the stress builds; A father is fed up with his job, but doesn't want to tell his wife he wants to go back to school. A young girl, told by kids at school that she is fat and ugly. So often they ignore these inner nudges, instead of channeling the power that stress can have when accompanied by... a plan. Only 3% of people write down their goals. Basically that means only 3% of people have a PLAN... now that's sad. To live to our full potential we need to use our God given ability so solve problems, to recognize our goals and not continually ignore them because we are afraid of failure. To write them down, and come up with a PLAN to fill in the gap between what we want, and our present reality.
For me, by biggest "stress" came four years ago in my college dorm. I realized I didn't want to study what I was currently studying... which became my problem, my present reality. But what was the solution? I could have kept on going to school hoping that I would get over it and begin to like my degree, but then something happened. I couldn't sleep, my mind kept turning. It was followed by three days of calmly but relentlessly searching for my resolution...."what do I want to do?" I loved nutrition, I loved fitness, I loved teach people about health, but I kept feeling like I was meant to do something... big. I don't know where this feeling came from, it just crept up on me, like that feeling you get when you are slowly approaching a vacation, an adventure.... you get up early before the sunrise and you make it to the to of the cliff just as the sun peaks over the horizon. It was exciting. Now let me tell you that I loved where I was .... I was very comfortable at my job while going to school learning things that interested me... all my friends and family were there. I loved my life. But the stress of my current reality kept on pushing, and without stuffing my desires in a closet where they would inevitably become too heavy for the door, I finally let it all unfolded. The result at first I admit, sounded irresponsible to my own ears, "me... a doctor... yeaaahhhh..." I thought the idea of going to school for 4 years was asinine, how was I going to get through 7 or 8... and I'd have to take physics, pharmacology, and gross anatomy. Kind of high aspirations for a girl who couldn't get through the frog dissection in high school biology. But everywhere I turned, on the radio, on TV, in conversation... this idea was everywhere. It would not rest, and so neither did I. Three days later I was planning to move three states away to go to school.... where I knew no one. And ironically, this is where I finally had peace. My decision made, all I had left to do was plan. I believe it was this experience, followed by others like it where I realized we all want something more. We have been built with this internal essence that tells us we can do great things. At some point if you decide... to ignore these inner callings... they sadly, can fall silent, and too often they do. If the space between who we are, and who we want to be is pain... than our disregard for our dreams is like a bottle of Aspirin desperately trying to mask the symptoms of our unfulfilling lives. Recognize your stress, look for your solution... your brain is already searching for the answer to your dreams.