Befriend The Fear: Why Acknowledging Stress Can Help You Manage Pressure Better.

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It’s no secret that over the last 18 months, many Australians have had to face challenging situations, decisions and conversations regarding their careers, relationships, financial concerns and more. When faced with these situations, we experience heightened periods of stress which, if not dealt with properly, can diminish our confidence and lead to burn-out.
This is why we recently talked with Dr JP Pawliw-Fry about the important topic of managing pressure and our questions on leadership and mindfulness in this space.

How do we show up under pressure?
According to Dr JP Pawliw-Fry, 92% of our life is low-pressure, where we feel fine and under control. For the other 8%, when we find ourselves in times of high pressure or stress, it’s common that our emotions get in the way. When our emotions get in the way, we can fall into what’s known as a Predictable Default Behavior; An automatic response to a stressor that we perform out of habit. This most often presents itself in the forms of avoiding responsibility, such as putting off tough conversations or making a mess of a situation. These outcomes can turn into a cycle of fear or anger, especially when we can’t deal with our emotions effectively.

Rather than dwell in this negative cycle, the key to correcting this Predictable Default Behavior lies in your focus. So, where should you shift your focus if you want to keep your cool in a stressful situation? As we discussed with Dr JP, you need to become a student of human behaviour.

When you start to feel tension or pressure, there are three things you can do:

  1. Become aware of the stress
  2. Befriend it
  3. Reframe it

By becoming aware of the stress and feeling it affecting you, you’re not allowing yourself to run from it. This is the best way to draw attention to the emotion and think about it in a more logical frame of mind.

Once you feel stress in your body, your next goal is to befriend it. Consider it an “ally” in the pursuit of your goal. After all, stress is just a signal for growth. Stress is a symptom of being out of your comfort zone, and without challenging yourself, it’s impossible to improve or progress in life. How can you use this stressful situation to become better in your career or relationships?

Finally, it’s crucial to reframe your stress. In order to do this, you have to give your stress a new meaning. The new meaning you give your stress should empower you every time you feel pressured. Instead of stress meaning that you’re overloaded and afraid, maybe your new meaning is something more encouraging, for example, “Stress is just a signal for me to level up and improve my skills.”

By doing this, you’ll take the power away from the stress or pressure, and you’ll redistribute that power to yourself.

Like with any habit, Dr Pawliw-Fry noted that we need a daily practice of asking ourselves, “How do I want to show up today?” and “When am I at my best?” to help us understand ourselves and our reactions to stress.

This becomes our identity statement, which allows us to build the strength to make it through tough times. This statement also helps us set our intention for the day and keep us on track with our emotions, even when everything seems to be working against us.

Dr Pawliw-Fry then goes on to expand this line of questioning with two more heavy-hitters that we need to ask ourselves for ultimate performance, “What’s the quality of how I want to show up today?” and “What do I want to get done?”.

To succeed with reframing our stress, we must be consistent in asking ourselves these questions and reciting our identity statements.

The sooner you befriend your stress and put reframing into practice, the sooner you will see results. Dr Pawliw-Fry recommends to “Let go of the outcome.” You have no control over it. Just do your best in the moment with no rules of how something is supposed to go, and you will optimise your mental focus on being present and working towards your goal.
For more information from Dr JP Pawliw-Fry and stories from his amazing career, check out this episode of the It’s More Than Money podcast.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances, financial needs or objectives. Before acting on any of the information you should consider the appropriateness of the relevant product having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. In particular, you should seek independent financial advice and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or other offer document prior to acting on any financial product or implementing any financial strategy.

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