I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked to “give me your top tip for managing stress” or “give me your elevator talk on stress management in one minute”.
Of course, I can do that, like some performing clown, but it is utter folly to think that a subject as complex as stress can be reduced to a top tip.
What I can do, however, is tell you some phrases which will open your mind to a deeper understanding. I’m going to spend this and the next four editions opening up to you an understanding of the five faces of anger.
To help you see the first face here is my phrase. “The world will not go your way”.
Of course, most of us are rational enough to admit the truth of this phrase. Who, in their right mind, would believe that the world would adapt, conform and cooperate with my desires and wishes?
But most of us are not rational when we come to this phrase. Most of us do not use our right minds when it comes to our agendas.
Our approach to this phrase reveals the first face of anger. Self-ishness. I’m not talking about the petit, small-minded, uncaring or unloving meaning of selfishness. I’m talking about a worldview which places my self at the centre of operations.
You have already looked at the issue of speed in an earlier edition. Part of this selfish anger is a rage against anything (traffic, supermarket lines, coworkers, Amazon deliveries) not going at my speed.
Perhaps you work for someone who believes everything should go his way (or perhaps that’s you).
You have already seen in the stress-prone personality edition that some people are more susceptible to raging against the uncooperative world than others.
There are a thousand parts of life which expose this face but may I draw your attention to one? In this world there are some certainties and a large certainty is the experience of loss.
If you are young, perhaps you have not lost too much yet, but age is no guarantee of that. To keep it work focused perhaps you have lost a job. Maybe an opportunity or, more personally, a valued coworker.
Some of you may be losing your way. Old certainties are not so certain. Maybe you are losing your health for any one of the raft reasons. Again, it might be the loss of a loved one through death, divorce or merely distance. The more you want the world to go your way the more it hurts when it does not. One of the key features of grief is anger.
In his famous poem, Dylan Thomas it urges his father to “rage, rage against the dying of the light” but, although I understand his desire to urge his father to fight for life, there is an inevitability about death which is out of our control.
If you live your life raging against that which you cannot control, you will live a stress filled life. You will build your life on the sand of a belief that the world will go your way, it will not.
There is another way. A call from a carpenter centuries ago says “deny your self, take up your cross and follow me.” He calls us to a life of trust which recognizes there is a God, the world belongs to him and you are not god in your world.
It’s an ancient syndrome which emerged in the story of Eden. The first humans usurped the order of things and put themselves on a throne. Stress has flowed from then till now. The selfish face of anger has revealed itself throughout our history.
I can’t tell you how to handle stress in one minute bu, if you open your heart to the truth that the world will not go your own way, you can open up to the One who will show you another Way.
Work well today,
© Geoff Shattock May 2019
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
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