Stress is about survival. Once you see this it will help you understand why you behave the way you do. Your body, mind, emotions and will have a combined goal preserving your life for as long as possible.
In the last edition I mentioned the word homeostasis which is your body’s tendency to keep things stable. Your body fights to keep temperature, acidity and a host of other internal measures stable so you can live.
Watch a cat cornered by a dog, she will lash out. See a wild beast respond to a lion by running away and you see stress as a survival mechanism in action.
Your mind (plus emotions and will) do the same. In the face of a threat you will try to respond to preserve stability and survive.
Surprise, surprise, humans are not quite the same as cats or beasts. You don’t need the dog or the lion to show up. You can imagine one.
So, when we talk about responding to threats, they can be real or imaginary, although, even if imagined, they become real to you.
There are three main “arenas” where we humans see threats. I will try and spell out the first one this week and the other ones separately.
Let me name this arena “the threat to your sense of worth”. It has to do with anything that creates a sense of being devalued, disrespected or under appreciated. This arena creates the context or threats which go to the very core of who you are.
I will give you a few examples. Perhaps you don’t feel you are being paid enough (and perhaps you are not). You may do a piece of work and it is not credited to you or worse credited to someone else. You may be criticized (fairly or unfairly) and it leaves you feeling demeaned.
Again, you can feel taken for granted or not included in a work team. Loss of physical strength through illness or injury can affect your sense of value.
As you have seen this threat can come to you from inside you or outside of you and can have a thousand faces, but the arena is one which leaves you with a feeling of being devalued.
There is one big question hanging over the door of this arena and it is this. Where do you get your sense of worth from? (I know, it should be “from where do you get your sense of worth?!”)
If you get your sense of worth from your money, then your worth will go up and down with your finances. We even ask the question how much is he/she worth in our current culture?
If you get it from your status, it will change if your status changes. If you get it from your physical appearance what happens when that fades?
Many people get their sense of worth from other people’s opinions, colleagues, bosses, media, friends and family, but of course, this can come and go.
Some will agree that the most important opinion of you is your own opinion so believe in yourself. But that is the problem, what happens if you feel self doubt, self-criticism or even self-loathing?
I’m going to suggest another way to meet these threats. It has to do with opinions, and it has to do with status, and it has to do with riches, but not as with being led to believe.
Here are some foundation statements for your self-worth account. You are valuable because you are made in the image of God by God. That is your identity, and no one can take that away from you.
Second, you are valuable, because Jesus, the Son of God, has bought you with the price of his own life. As a Christian, you believe that Christ is your Redeemer, the One who has paid for you. He has paid a ransom price for you to bring you out of the prison you constructed (and inherited) and that price has paid for your adoption as a child of God.
Nothing anyone can do will change that status if you’re a Christian. You are created, redeemed, adopted and accepted and the only opinion in the universe that matters says that, “I am pleased with you”.
I will expand on this another time but let me finish by saying that the other things I have mentioned, your finances, friends or status are not irrelevant, but they must be secondary. If they become your primary source of self-worth you will always be vulnerable to threats.
Life is sweeter with enough resources of all kinds but if any or part of them get stripped away your deepest worth is revealed in the words, created, redeemed, adopted and loved they are the key to managing stress is this arena and they are not removable.
Work well today,
© Geoff Shattock July 2019
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
I Cor 6:20
You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price
1 John 3:1
1See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
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