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Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy (Part One)

Stressed-out feelings are very often stoked by self-sabotaging self-talk. It is very easy to catastrophize the situation, along the lines of “I’m going to have a nervous breakdown. It’s absolutely impossible for me to do this.” Off-kilter beliefs such as these are guaranteed to keep the vicious cycle of stress running at full throttle. It’s difficult—if not impossible—to address the true external cause of your stressful feelings without first getting them under control.

Can you strengthen your resilience to stress and actively increase what might be called your hardiness? Indeed you can. Stress tolerance can be learned (as we’ll demonstrate later on in this chapter).

Once learned, it offers relief and improved health in both the short and longer term. That, in turn, allows us to become more flexible and adaptive when further, more severe hardships come our way. The attempt to understand the relationship between negative events and our ability to cope with them has a long history.

As early as 1915, Freud was postulating what he termed a “defense mechanism,” a largely unconscious process involving deep-seated internal repression and rationalization.3 But Freud’s theories were updated in the late 1970s by researchers who believed that, on the contrary, stressful situations usually unleash conscious strategies or styles that people under stress have developed over time to suit themselves.4 This is good news for those who wish to handle stress better. If Freud had been correct, unconscious processes would have had to be probed and uncovered by means of extensive therapy, an arduous prospect.

But if stress can be eased (or worsened)—sometimes instantaneously—by the people involved, depending on what they tell themselves and how they behave, then the condition is much more open to improvement on an individual basis. The exercises that follow will help you learn to better cope with stress.


If we develop stress responses to demanding and challenging situations, we always run the risk that the emotional experiences of anxiety, panic or hopelessness will erode our ability to reality test, problem solve and behave with confidence and certainty. Our physical symptoms of chronic tension, shortness of breath, and so forth, will deplete our sense of vitality and make it difficult for us to concentrate and focus. All of these debilities will make it less likely that we can be successful. In short, if we “cave in” to minimal environmental demands, we will not have the presence, the hardiness or the resilience to behave independently and assertively, and all of this will undercut our attempts to be successful. Individuals who do not have good stress tolerance tend to “fall apart” or become “overwhelmed” in two ways: some feel highly anxious and agitated, flustered and worried, helpless and hopeless, demoralized and apathetic; others may not experience uncomfortable emotional states, but may develop physical symptoms of insomnia, rapid heartbeat, breathing difficulties, nausea, diarrhea, unrelenting headaches or rashes. Individuals who have developed the ability to tolerate stress do not develop these symptoms, but rather stay calm and focused under pressure. They do not visit their difficulties on others.

They have the capacity to relax and wind down emotionally. Those who tolerate stress well are also described as hardy and resilient. They can present themselves with confidence, think clearly and assess their environments realistically. Stress tolerance is linked with success because it brings with it the capacity to focus and weather storms without allowing unpleasant feelings or disturbing bodily symptoms to interfere with moving forward and reaching a goal. Without the capacity for stress tolerance, reality testing, problem-solving, flexibility and impulse control are all eroded. And as these abilities are undermined, individuals become less and less able to function successfully.


  1.  Think of a demanding, unpleasant or unexpected situation that has arisen recently at work. It might be a deadline that looms when you’re already snowed under, a lost promotion or the prospect of losing your job itself.
  2. In your notebook, write down the unpleasant feelings you experienced, any unexplained physical sensations that accompanied the incident and the ways in which your work suffered because of your difficulty in managing the stress.
  3. Now think of a similar situation that has arisen in your personal life, such as encountering problems with your significant other, parents or children. Again, record your feelings, your physical reactions and the negative impact of the stress on your relationships with these people.
  4. Think back to several recent stressful incidents, and make a note of the event that sparked the stress. Do these events form a pattern, revealing your areas of vulnerability to stress; that is, are the majority work- or family-related? Which, if any, produced a feeling of helplessness and inability to effect change?
  5. Once again, for each of these incidents, make a note of your feelings and bodily sensations.Does a pattern emerge here as well? Some of us tend to be either “feelings” or “body” responders to stress; while others get hit both ways at once. If you are the latter, how does your stress first manifest itself?
  6.  How do you deal with stress at present? List even those methods that aren’t effective and that you’d like to change.
  7.  Which of the following tactics are you most apt to resort to:

• taking a deep breath

• going for a walk

• counting slowly to 10

• ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away

• passing the buck to someone else

• looking for alternative strategies

• making lists

• letting emotions surface

• exercising

• using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

• meditating, practicing yoga or listening to soothing tapes

• taking a tranquilizer or other medication?

8. How would you prefer to deal with stress as it affects you and as you understand it? What, in your case, do you think is the ideal solution?


 A number of physical exercises can help shift our unsettled emotional states to calmer, more relaxed feelings—as well as to actually alter to some degree the body’s physiological responses. For maximum effect, they should become part of your daily routine. Don’t wait until a crisis emerges and then plunge into them, looking for a quick fix, although two of them can also be resorted to when emotions are running hot.

They take only five or 10 minutes each—a small price to pay, considering the time you might spend on coffee breaks or watching TV. Because it releases endorphins, exercise has a potent effect on reducing the signs and symptoms of stress. Also, it cheers you up; you feel (correctly) that you’re actively doing something constructive, instead of passively experiencing various sensations. This in itself imparts a sense of control over your body and, by extension, the situation that keyed the stress in the first place.

Lessons Learnd From Other Studies Of Science

As the least developed study of science, psychology has much to learn from the more established metascientific disciplines of history, philosophy, and sociology of science. The most important lesson comes from knowing the general stages that any scientific discipline goes through in its path toward maturity. Guiding the discussion of the development of each study of science, I make use of but modify Nicholas Mullins’s stage model of theory or network development.

Mullins argued for four potentially overlapping stages of development in theories and/or scientific networks in sociology. I propose only three stages and apply them not just to one field (sociology), but to all of the metasciences (history, philosophy, sociology, and psychology).

In addition, I simplify the components of each stage and focus only on each stage’s intellectual leaders, social-organizational leaders, research-training centers, and intellectual successes. In stage, Isolation, scholars work on the same problem in isolation, with the founding intellectual figures setting the stage.

There is no social organization in terms of training centers, conferences, or societies.

Late in stage and early in stage, a core group of scholars may be working in the field, but doing so implicitly rather than explicitly, not yet labeling themselves as members of the field. In stage, Identification is reached, as the intellectual success of the founding figures provides explicit theoretical and conceptual parameters for the field that attracts a wider range of students and other scientists who start to explicitly identify themselves with the field.

Semi-regular meetings are organized and the first training-research centers may form.

Such training centers are usually highly centralized around an intellectual leader, whose students have begun to have a major impact on the field.

A leading journal becomes necessary as the outlet for the increased level of productivity of the field. In stage, Institutionalization, the field becomes well established and institutionalized. Meetings become annual conferences because societies have now formed with their own social structure and hierarchy. Often multiple societies, some of them international, become necessary.

Training centers proliferate and become less centralized, and at least one journal is now required for the expanding productivity of the field. Indeed, splinter movements, with different foci or agendas, may form and either break away or stay on the edge of the central field.

Although philosophy of knowledge (that is, epistemology) was a central theme in ancient Greek philosophy, the field of the philosophy of science is a much more recent development. Its origins are seen in three trends: classification of the sciences, methodology, and the philosophy of nature. The intellectual leaders, in the sense of writing the first books on the topic, were William Whewell in England and Auguste Comte in France.

Whewell actually wrote two books on the philosophy of science and coined the terms “scientist” and “physicist” in the process.

He took a modified Kantian view that there are laws of nature independent of our understanding and that by our inductive intuitions, rather than raw empiricism, we can come to understand the laws of nature. John Stuart Mill developed his own positivist position in reaction to Whewell’s inductivist position. Indeed, the two major proponents of positivism were Comte and J. S. Mill. Positivism holds that nature has no ultimate purpose and there is no “essence” to be discovered a priori.

All scientific knowledge must be based in observable and positive facts. Positivists, at their core, are refuting the purely reflective method of acquiring knowledge, believing that only what comes through the senses is valid, scientific knowledge.

Comte, in particular, put a historical spin to the positivist argument and claimed that the history of ideas passes through three phases—theological, metaphysical, and positivist (scientific)—with positivism being the penultimate stage of knowledge.

In so doing, Comte was taking a classic empiricist stance by arguing that human nature was modifiable and capable of progress. During the second half of the nineteenth century, the publication of books in the philosophy of science went from a trickle to a fast drip, with some major works, including William Jevons, Ernst Mach, and Karl Pearson.

At the turn of the century scholars began to organize more formally and establish the philosophy of science as an independent field of study. For instance, the first congresses on the philosophy of science were held in Paris.

Cum convingem?

Când oamenii îşi împărtăşesc pasiunea sau entuziasmul pentru ceva, devin atractivi şi reuşesc mai uşor să-i convingă pe ceilalţi. Foloseşte-ţi propria putere de convingere, începând cu ceea ce te entuziasmează sau te interesează din mesajul tău.

Dacă nu eşti convins de ceea ce doreşti, de ce ar face-o ceilalţi? încearcă să fragmentezi mesajul în părţi mai mici şi să vezi dacă poţi să descoperi unele dintre aspectele care îţi provoacă pe deplin interesul sau entuziasmul.

De exemplu, să presupunem că trebuie să vorbeşti cu nişte clienţi despre noul produs al companiei tale şi totuşi nu te simţi entuziasmat de acesta. în loc să speri doar că se va sfârşi cu bine, găseşte nişte aspecte ale produsului, nu contează cât de mici, pe care le consideri interesante sau convingătoare şi concentrează-te pe acestea.

  • Pentru a-i convinge pe ceilalţi, convinge-te mai întâi pe tine. Conţinutul Deşi cuvintele în sine constituie o parte minoră a persuasiunii, conţinutul mesajului tău verbal poate afecta credibilitatea.
  • Prezinţi destule realităţi pentru a-ţi susţine cazul?
  • Este ceea e spui logic şi uşor de urmărit?
  • Conţinutul este destul de scurt pentru ca oamenii să-l poată recepta?

De exemplu, într-un interviu pentru o slujbă, pentru a nu lăsa impresia că doar te lauzi, poţi să aduci dovezi solide în sprijinul experienţei tale anterioare?

Există exemple, statistici, referinţe din partea unor specialişti sau chiar scrisori de recomandare pentru a-ţi sprijini argumentele.

A conferi consistenţă spuselor tale va însemna să rezervi mai mult timp pentru pregătirea prezentării decât o faci în mod obişnuit, însă pregătirea neadecvată tinde să fie letală, în special când este vorba de prezentări formale.

A fi logic şi uşor de urmărit va amplifica impactul tău asupra celorlalţi. Pe lângă faptul că intervalele de concentrare a atenţiei sunt scurte, oamenii pot să-şi amintească în mod obişnuit numai două sau trei idei afirmate în timpul unui dialog. De aceea, ordinea efectivă în care îţi prezinţi informaţiile contează.

  • Un lucru important pentru a suna convingător este să le oferi oamenilor cea mai importantă informaţie de la bun început.

Convorbirile care te duc spre succes!

Unul dintre cele mai importante mesaje in dezvoltarea personalitatii este ca modul in care-ti vorbesti va decide cat de bine te vei descurca in viata.


Aminteste-ti de o  perioada in viata ta in care lucrurile nu mergeau foarte bine. Daca cineva te-ar intreba cum faceai fata situatiei, ai raspunde ceva de genul: “Mizerabil”! sau ….”Nu prea rau…” (insa pe un ton scazut). Asta nu numai ca le-ar pune cellorlalti ca nu te simteai prea grozav, ci te-ar fort ape tine sa iti amintesti cat de rau iti era.

Controlandu-ti discutiile cu sine, tu vei decide in ce culori vrei sa vezi viata. Gandeste-te numai cat de des spui chiar tu lucruri neplacute despre tine: “Prostle, ce te-a facut sa reactionezi asa?” sau “ Sunt atat de gras/urat”. Nu prea ai avea multi prieteni daca le-ai vorbi cumiti vorbesti tie insuti!

Ce iti recomand sa faci: astern pe o hartie o lista cu declaratiile negative pe care le faci despre tine in mod uzual.Nimeni nu trebuie sa citeasca asta asa ca….fii sincer cu tine! Dup ace le-ai enumerate, incearca sa gasesti pentru fiecare declaratie negativa cate una pozitiva pe care sa o folosesti in schimb.

Exemplu de declaratii negative:

Sunt extenuat.

M-am saturat de slujba asta.

Lumea asta este oribila.

Declaratii pozitive:

Ma simt grozav.

Iubesc viata.

Ia-ti acum angajamentul sa iti spui cuvinte incurajatoare,ori de cate ori ai o convorbire cu sine, cu familia sau cu prietenii. Tu esti cel care poate schimba directia in care merge viata ta- daca vrei!

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