Guest Post: Breaking Up With Stress

I'm excited for a big first on the Your WORK. Your LIFE. Your TERMS. blog.  Our first guest blogger!  I'm tickled pink to introduce you to the talented and inspiring Regina Collins- Simon of Vintage 1973, someone who truly strives to live life on her own terms. I've know Regina for my entire adult life.  I am lucky to count her as a mentor and friend. She constantly inspires me to be and do more, always challenging me to be my best self in a way few can. I am honored to be her coach at such an exciting time in her life as she makes 2015 a year of growth and possibility. This post is one that we can all relate to, that deep in your gut feeling of stress and how it manifests in your life and tries to hold you back. Is it time for you to break up with stress too?

So, I have a life coach and she's fabulous!

Laura and I have been friends and working/serving together in some capacity for over 15 years. We are sorority sisters, friends, confidants and again - for the second time - coach and client. You can read more about her on her website.

Needless to say, I am impressed by her courage to leave the stability of a high paying job in Human Resources to sail out into the world of coaching - a much more risky pursuit - and have enjoyed watching her thrive in pursuit of her passions.

Laura was the first person I texted to tell her that I was quitting my job in December. I'd only been there for six months and though grateful for the lifeline they'd thrown me, I could no longer sell myself on the role and me in it. Y'all know what pantyhose are right? And how an ill-fitting pair can sap all of your intelligence and focus away from the bigger, more significant purpose at hand? Well, let's just say, I got honest with myself about the fact that the pantyhose (that job) no longer fit and I was tired of yanking them up.

Laura was excited and had no judgment though I had no plans for another job, no direction and would be losing health insurance and income I'd come to count on. Her response was encouraging and faithful.

So we started. And in our first session, I felt I was all over the place. Revelations and ah-ha moments popping off like fireworks. She listened and coached and asked questions and I was a mix of faith and excitement and sheer joy!

And then she did what she's always done that has impressed me and she asked me a question that seemed completely out of left field but which, of course, turned out to be completely related when she asked me about my "relationship with stress".

I got quiet. And was a bit stumped.

When I hired her to coach me toward my passion, toward my purpose, I was thinking it was going to help guide me in clarity toward a particular role or job in education. To help me figure out a specific path toward (I hate to admit this but...) the "top". I wanted to know how I was going to get my money's worth from the several degrees I've added to the rungs of my educator belt. How I was going to make the biggest impact from a managerial and leadership role. How I was going to make bank and run stuff.

It was a tough pill to swallow. And I had to admit it to myself - and to Laura - and then respond honestly.

And when she asked me about my relationship with stress, I knew this was God giving me an opportunity to shift my thoughts from "my plans" to His will.

I want to be able to influence and inspire others but not at the expense of wearing myself and my son out.

I want to make enough money to travel and have nice things and experience wonderful places, but not at the expense of having my work take over our lives.

I want to be seen as a person who is of great value and meaning and purpose to others, but not at the expense of the way that God sees, values and plans to use me.

And when I could admit these things to myself, I had an almost immediate shift in what I was willing to do and was able to humble myself and consider next steps that would keep stress at a minimum and allow us to still have some amazingly wonderful experiences.

Here are some of the revelations about stress that helped me shift my focus from being the best, to pursuing God's best for me.

Relationship with STRESS

  • It causes me to be inconsistent and leave projects incomplete
  • I can become hyper-focused on to-do lists and less focused on experiencing life
  • I exercise poor judgment when stressed
  • I tend to take on more to avoid or discount the negative feelings associated with the things causing the stress
  • I am more impulsive
  • I become less willing to wait, seek input
  • I stop talking, journaling, connecting and instead become more alienated and more in my own thoughts, more focused on my own needs
  • I do not eat, sleep or perform duties of self-care (there's no time, there's so much to do!!!)
  • I become more obsessed with social media and people's responses to what I post
  • I tend to slip back into depression more quickly and deeply
  • I drink more alcohol
  • I live in a state of mental tension - over thinking things and doubting my decisions
  • I do a poor job at parenting my son
  • I crave and seek more approval from people, roles, responsibilities
  • I become a competitor rather than a teammate
  • I am less attentive about my health, relationships, roles and people - I just push through
  • I listen to the doubt rather than the Spirit
  • I skip quiet times in my Bible
  • It blinds me from the truth
  • It makes me think that I should not be my authentic self

Not at all what I would have expected to come out of our coaching session about trying to find my next career move, but my next steps became so much more clear. There is still some stress related to fully embrace this way of thinking and a lot of opportunities to pray about, practice and exercise discipline in order grow in avoiding, decreasing and eliminating stress from our lives.

I have not been "cured" from stress, but becoming more aware of my co-dependent relationship with it has helped me be more conscientious about what I chose to do, how I choose to spend the time I've been blessed with and who I chose to spend it with. And already, the choice to step away from stress as a controller in all areas of my life has made a tremendous difference - look for evidence in future posts.

I still have so much to learn and am eager to see how this all pans out, hence the continued coaching sessions. 

Here's to hoping you have/take some time to look at the stress in your life and what you need to do to break its hold on you.

 

Thank you Regina for your vulnerability in sharing with us! So many powerful takeaways.

How does stress influence the person you want to be?  How do you move out of the shadow of stress? I'd love to hear from you. Please comment below.

Posted on January 21, 2015 and filed under Stress, Working With a Coach, Guest Post.