Did you know that 1.5 seconds after you think a stressful thought a change takes place on your skin? Did you know that high levels of stress in children can lead to a slowing down of their growth rate?
If I look up from where I am writing now, I can see a large three-volume encyclopedia of stress. There is a huge body of modern stress research charting the symptoms, causes and cures for this current pandemic.
Certain labels are used which mark out high risk factors. Let me describe one. It can get called narcissism, a type of self-centred behavior. Lack of self-awareness or egocentricism is part of this syndrome.
Staying with modern, but plainer, English you are looking here at an approach to life which places the self at the centre of the world. It is an attitude that wants the world to go my way. The classic song, “My Way” has, at its heart, this same self-absorbed attitude. I’m not commenting on the music or your taste, merely the content of the song.
Feeding into this approach is a focus on rights and needs and an underlining belief that the world can be shaped to fit me and my agenda.
There are strengths in this, of course. A determined desire to change the world for the better and the perseverance to achieve noble goals fuels great and unsung heroic endeavors.
But the toxic side of this is the possibility of holding a belief that you are god on your own throne, king or queen of your own domain, or master of your universe.
You can see this played out in all kinds of tiny moments as well as massive projects. Watch someone rage at not getting a parking space, missing a train or losing their wallet.
Then observe the anger at the country or government which does not deliver what I want, or my company not paying me enough.
We are in the realm of partial truths. It is right to be concerned about injustice but if concern turns to prolonged fury then stress and health risks result.
The more you look at these modern words and contemporary behaviours a strange fact emerges. There are ancient words to describe the very same thing.
Take the character of Jonah. He was instructed to take a message to Nineveh. (Modern day Mosul in Iraq). Instead he headed for Spain preferring his own agenda to his instructions. Fast forward through a storm, a large fish, a message delivered, and a very positive response and he is not happy at all.
He sits down in his anger because he gave a warning, the warning was heeded and instead of being happy he was thinking about his possible loss of face. To cap it all, the tree that was shading him from the Arabian sun had shriveled and he was literally burning hot with rage.
In the narrative, God asked him a perfect stress diagnostic question. “Have you any right to be angry?”
It may be called narcissism or egocentrism, but it is also a type of pride or sin. If you are prepared to hear and engage with the question, “Have you any right to be angry?”, you will find the modern and ancient paths cross.
Either way this question will help you face the stress in your life. We will revisit this question in more detail, please be patient!
Work well today,
© Geoff Shattock March 2019
9 But God said to Jonah, “Have you any right to be angry?. . . “
(Note: Check out the whole of Jonah Chapter 4)
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