Following Fred

On this page you will discover the thinking behind Fred’s assessment of his stresses and why he, with some guidance, categorised them as he did.  This should give you some ideas for managing your stresses that we will return to on the next page.

After all, this is not really a problem.

Oh, no! It is raining again.
When Fred is overwhelmed with problems the fact it is raining/snowing/far too hot or whatever, bothers him intensely. Because the weather does not suit (he has forgotten his umbrella/the kids will not be able to attend school/he has dressed unsuitably) Fred takes it as a personal affront. ‘God has got it in for me!’ Silly isn’t it? But like us all, when Fred is stressed all he can see is his stresses.  Despair is not far away.  He can easily develop an expectation of even more stress and strangely sometimes even deliberately creates problems for himself. Negativity takes over!

Stop it! Now!

Fred has to be decisive as soon as he recognises what is happening. He must actively choose not to care about things he cannot control. He has to live with life as it is.

This needs to be dealt with but it can wait a while.

Neighbour’s trees overhang the fence and the lawn is taken over by moss.
Falling out with a neighbour over a relatively minor matter (as it may appear to those who are not involved) is a common problem and there are stories in the media of how it sometimes progresses. It may result in huge legal bills, attritional warfare and even murder. Fred needs to take care. He needs to act circumspectly. Keep it all in perspective. Think it through. Get advice. Consult experts in horticulture and neighbours rights.

But why wait until all he can anticipate is trouble? From the day he moved in Fred should have cultivated friendship with his neighbours. They should have shared in each other’s gardening plans and expectations and learned to live together. Then problems would be unlikely to arise as they would be dealt with at an early stage before they escalated into problems.  Could he possibly, even  now, develop such a relationship?

Shall we invite the in-laws for Christmas?
I hear that there are some families who dread Christmas because of family squabbles and conflicts. The arguments go around in circles every year:

‘It is not our turn to invite XXXX.’
‘Why am I always expected to …..?’
‘Every time I see that stain on the carpet I remember ….’

And so on. What in theory should be a happy time of family fun and reminiscences becomes the least attractive yearly celebration and yet they still persevere! Are they hoping for a miracle?

When Fred gets depressed – even temporarily over minor upsets that have nothing to do with Christmas – his bad memories come back to haunt him. He gets on well enough with his family at birthday and other events but there need be only one mention of Christmas and the worry and stress return to disturb his sleep and even his day dreams.

This is a major stress. It needs to be sorted but not in an emergency and not when distracted by other stresses. Worrying about it now only dissipates energy, mental powers and emotional reserves so Fred will be less equipped to deal with matters that really do need urgent attention. Fred should plan to set aside some private thinking time and then some time to talk about Christmas with his own family. Then and only then, should he involve the wider family in discussing this matter. This delay will give time for Fred to learn about some of the techniques that can help in such a situation – but he will have to wait until he reaches the ‘Moving Forward’ module for them.   For now, he has more important things that need sorting out.

I cannot influence this so must leave it to others.

Brother is awaiting heart tests.
Fred can keep in touch to support and encourage his brother but essentially, what happens is out of his control. He cannot influence the process or the results. Yet he will worry because it is his brother and if it turns out he has a serious problem that may well make Fred fearful of it happening to him too.

Business is not doing well – is my job secure?
And then there is the news about the business not doing so well. Fred lies awake at night wondering if his job is safe. Should he start looking for another job now? But could he get one as well paid? And then there are pension rights and the possibility of redundancy pay.

But is there any evidence the business is failing? Where did the stories come from? Is a rival undermining the business? Is it a manager’s ploy to get Fred to work harder? It gets complicated doesn’t it?

What is the truth? Who can be believed? All Fred is doing is worrying – but that leads nowhere except to sleepless nights, anxious days, irritable squabbles and general unhappiness.

Issues like his brother’s health problems and his business’s troubles are out of Fred’s control. It would be better for now, if Fred concentrated on stresses he can do something about.  When he has sorted out his immediate problems he can then turn to other longer term issues where his stresses are only part of a bigger scenario. And by then, he will have learnt some techniques that will enable him to address his part in these problems.

So here is Fred. He had a list of eight stresses and ends up with only three he really needs to focus on. That is actually quite common so this is a good lesson for you – if you are ever to be able to control your stresses it is crucial to take a quick overview of all your problems and categorize them so you can concentrate on the ones that really do need sorting out.

This is urgent – I need to do something NOW!

Must buy a present for best friend’s birthday in 2 days.
Buying a birthday present for a friend sounds simple enough and there has been plenty of notice so why is it only 2 days away with no plan in hand and no idea what to do? Only Fred can answer that but scenarios like this are ever so common. Do you get pleasure from living on the edge? Are there kudos for acting precipitately because of the shortness of time so you overspend and are forced to buy a present that is really not very suitable at all?

Some people rebel at this sort of thing so insist on friendships that are not tied into present swapping rituals. But then there is something special about friendships that need to be nurtured. People matter more than things so what is right for one relationship is irrelevant to another.

This scenario also indicates there are deeper issues at stake than just finding a few spare minutes to pop into a shop. Later, in the Moving Forward module you will explore this ‘layering’ of stresses in which the immediate stress hides other deeper and possibly far more significant stresses that need dealing with in their own right and if not dealt with, will interfere with more obvious stresses.

Need to arrange for someone to collect the children from school tomorrow.
Now this is urgent! If Fred cannot possibly go himself he will need someone trustworthy to step in. But maybe Fred has just fallen out with the friend who would normally happily help out. Is it time to make peace, say sorry and beg for help? What is more important – children’s welfare or self-pride?

Alternatively, could Fred do something about his other engagement? Can it be delayed or adjusted in some way?

And while considering this, does he need to think of how he can handle such calamities in the future without the drama? Is he trying to achieve too much in too short a time? Childhood soon comes and goes and there is only one chance to make the best of it. At some point Fred needs to make his mind up to devote himself to one task at a time and do it thoroughly rather than try to cope with two or three tasks and fail to cope with any of them.

Of course, that is not always possible so Fred may have to live with the risk of crises developing at short notice.  Sometimes you have to live with a stress rather than overcome it.

And what does Fred do when he is desperate – really desperate? He prays,  ‘God, help me!’ Like Fred, you may feel embarrassed and even stunned when something happens – as if there really is a God who listens and answers such a prayer. But it is amazing how many ‘coincidences’ happen when you pray! So do it. What is there to lose?

I am constipated again.
You may be surprised to see this in the ’urgent ‘ list, but even more, I believe that this could be the most urgent problem of all.

Of course, this does not apply to everyone but it is on Fred’s list and it is evidently a recurring problem. It will not settle on its own. Action is needed. The chances are, all that is needed is some dietary and lifestyle adjustments and Fred will know what to do though it will take a few days to sort out. In the meantime however, Fred is distracted. His abdomen feels bloated, his clothes may feel tight. He may pass wind inadvertently or may be desperate to pass wind but dare not try in case he has an accident! His problem may make him irritable and distracted, if only in the attempt to keep an eye out for the nearest loo. Some people like Fred get headaches and feel their breathe smells. In the course of life chronic or recurring constipation is usually a minor matter but in the pressures of the moment it becomes of immense importance filling the sufferer’s mind, causing distractions, inattention and bad moods. It needs urgent attention!

Fred must do something, or at least start something, so that within a few days he can move on, as it were. The temptation though, for a problem that many find difficult to talk about and may well feel is just a minor irritation that will go away of its own accord, is to ignore it until it cannot be ignored any longer – and then it takes at least twice as much effort to resolve!

Constipation may not be your problem but if it is not constipation there is a good chance you have another problem that is personal to you, no one else may know about it and yet it fills your vision to the exclusion of everything else when it plays up.

Face it. Sort it. Move on.

Would it be helpful to have a confession time? This is an opportune moment when you can tell the world about your ‘pet stress’ anonymously! Writing about it will be a good exercise for you. Having to express yourself in writing means you are thinking and you may come up with some new ideas you can use to make your problem less of a pain and distraction and more under your control.

I have in mind that some of the responses will be published here, anonymously of course, in future editions of this website. The details of individual stresses are not important in this context but the range of topics that exist as ‘pet stresses’ is what will be of interest.  This can be an encouragement as readers realise they are not alone as they read something about what other people go through.

Write about your pet stress .


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