“Stress often results when I don’t give myself a choice. That’s when I end up at the mercy of a situation or condition. When I was a student the pressure of work really got to me and my stomach was all tied up in knots. My counsellor suggested I give myself a choice:
I could walk away from the college course, call it a day, and go and do something else if I wanted to. Alternatively, I could, stay on, knowing what the work involved, and try to cope with the stress as best I could. All of a sudden, I’d taken charge of my life. I was no longer at the mercy of my situation. I was about to make a choice. My choice was to stay on at college and to do my best to cope with the workload. Miraculously the stress eased, and I found I could manage it better from then on.” Robert.
Robert also learnt to deal with fear by making a list of the ones that were bugging him. Then he made a note of how the fear affected him – his emotional and financial security, his self-esteem, his relationship with others, his personal and social ambitions, etc. Then he looked at what he might have done to cause the fear in the first place; had he been selfish or self-seeking, had he been dishonest, irrational, or flippant, and so on. Finally, he tried to think of ways to ensure the same thing wouldn’t happen again – to think and behave differently. Robert carried out this exercise collaboratively with his Recovery Coach.