Only Dreaming – A Shift in Perception

car arms auntie stress
Perhaps this illustration of mine belongs on a Mirthful Monday! It doesn't take an automotive engineer to recognize that the proportions of the tires are too small. Back to the drawing board..

It was a tight parking space. A truck had parked at an odd angle, but I knew that I could manage to park properly, especially since I had a smaller car. Suddenly, large arms reached down on either side of my open windows. I jerked awake, my heart beat keeping time to my rapid breathing.

As I lay there, I realized that I didn't have to be afraid. Why did I think those hands were harmful? Instead, I could view them as helpful. It was a powerful change of perception - one that transformed a nightmare into a dream.

It is also one that signified personal growth. The fact that I was able to quickly shift my perception of the "being" from harmful to helpful, while semi-somnolent, is a testament to the power of the stress techniques that I regularly practice and teach.

I can hear you already - yes, you do have time, once you learn the techniques. In as little as a minute or two, you can change course and redress your stress.

Your perceptions trigger thoughts and emotions. Learn to use heart power to alter your perceptions - stress can cloud judgement and eclipse your opinion of what you witness. Have you ever completed a survey when you were in a good mood versus a bad mood? How much more tolerant are you when you are feeling better?

Hans Selye, a Canadian researcher, defined stress as the non-specific demand of the body to any demand for change. In physics, stress is described as an external force that produces internal distortion or strain.

The working definition I like to use is that stress is your interpretation of external events that produces internal distortion or strain, whether it be emotional, mental, physical or spiritual. Less turmoil equals a greater sense of peace. What would it mean to you to be comfortable within your own skin? Imagine more energy, better quality of sleep and enhanced performance - without drugs! You can thank your personal and portable stress undresser - your heart!

Fear has its place; after all, mankind made it to the twenty-first century with a big helping of fear. However, many of the things you may fear do not pose an actual threat on life. Concerns and worries placed under a magnifying glass loom larger than they are. The more you gaze at those threats, reflect upon them and feel the discordant energy, the more your system is flooded with stress hormones - fourteen hundred of them! The cost is too high!

You don't have to stay locked in fear; not every event has to smell of danger. Use the wisdom of your heart - regulate your heart rhythms and effectively evaluate your perceptions. How many of your dreams have been dressed up to look like nightmares?

What to do?

I could tell you to shift your perception, but often there's resistance. "I'm not stressed." "The only stress I have is _____." "I'm fine!" The latter may be accompanied by a sharper tone to the voice, an deep intake in breath, or shallow, rapid breathing.

You may be surprised, once you become aware of how much time you spend in reruns of unsavoury conversations, perhaps not seeing dead people everywhere, but definitely seeing danger, or "Why can't I do anything right?", which is often accompanied by "I always/I never...". How often do you immerse yourself in negative thoughts and emotions? This is stress.

The easiest way to transform your stress is by treating the cause of your stress or perceptions and not just the symptoms.

It changed my life. Drastically.

Are you ready to make the shift?

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11 Replies to “Only Dreaming – A Shift in Perception”

  1. Perceptions of stress are everything, aren’t they? You are right on. I sincerely believe that unless we know what our triggers are, we really can’t make progress with mitigating our anxiety. If we catch how we behave and react to little things, everyday, we start to see the patterns and then we can start to address them. Good article!

  2. Marianna,

    This is such a wonderful illustration of the power of how our thoughts control our feelings. This is one of the underlying premises behind cognitive behavior therapy. One of the things that we often do in therapy is help clients become more aware of what their “automatic thoughts” are [the first thoughts that come to their mind about X event; these are often impacted by how they were brought up, life events, their beliefs etc].

    When you become aware of the impact of your thoughts on your feelings [and behaviors], as well as understand some of your distortions in thinking process, you become empowered to make significant changes in your life.

    A list of the 12 typical cognitive distortions that we all experience at one time or another is here: http://www.willbaum.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Cognitive-Distortions.pdf.

    When we engage in these distortions, such as the “all or nothing” view, we will inevitably feel bad when things do not go well. So if you catch yourself doing that, you may find it helpful to say to yourself: “Am I only noticing the bad stuff? Am I blocking out the positive info? What would be more realistic?” This helps you switch to more positive thoughts —> more positive feelings.

    Warmly,
    Dorlee

    1. I had to jump in and tell Dorlee how much I appreciate her comment and the link. In fact, I just shared both with a couple of clients. So true how important this can be to making any kind of real and lasting change in our lives. Thank you both for this wonderful conversation.

      1. Jump in – anytime, Ronnie Ann! 🙂

        Our life – like an ever-evolving sculpture. Smooth something, over here. Chip away at something, over there.

    2. Dorlee, thank you for your post-advancing comments.

      What I like about CBT is that it empowers the individual to move forward – to learn, change and grow. (My 3 words for the year, as per Jacqui’s and your posts.)

      Thank you for the link for the Cognitive Distortions. It is an essential tool to help one push out of a stuck, non-resourceful state.

      Distortion is included in NLP’s Meta Model Patterns, along with Generalizations and Deletion. I’ve briefly written about it here.

      As you know, those positive feelings can be used to improve heart rate variability (HRV), which then improves the signals which go to the brain. The quality of those signals determine whether or not the stress response is elicited.

  3. I love that you were able to change your perspective from the harmful to the helpful. It’s definitely something I am working on. My blog is my stress relief technique, writing about what small victories I achieve versus the things I can’t do because of my chronic illness has helped me greatly.

    Thanks for sharing with my Small Victories Sunday linky. I hope you return and link up again next week! Pinning to my Small Victories Sunday linky board and sharing!

    1. Big Auntie Stress points for recognizing and honouring the small victories, Tanya. Pile them up together and they amount to a heap of success and less stress.

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