I remember my father telling me as a child that I didn't handle stress very well. I was probably 13 years old and was totally shocked at his statement.
Something in me wanted to fight him on that. Maybe it was because I was embarrassed by what he said or maybe it was because I secretly knew it to be true and didn't want to accept it. I mean, not being able to handle stress gracefully made me feel like I was weak and I didn't like that.
Fast forward many years later and my father's statement still rings true.
I just don't do well with stress.
Growing up I thought that everyone handled stress the same way. I mean stress, in general, is not a 'great' thing to have so of course, everyone struggles with it, right? Wrong. Some people actually do a fantastic job in stressful situations. Others even thrive.
The day I finally realized that I felt defeated. Broken even. Why is it that others can handle something in a way that I just can't?
For years I just chalked it up to me being an emotional person. Maybe I can't handle things that stress me out because it triggers so many other emotions for me. Like anger, frustration, sadness. And then one day it just hit me. Maybe I do such a bad job with stress management because of the way I was taught to handle stress as a child? See, when I was younger a series of unfortunate events caused me to feel emotions and stress that a child should never feel. And unfortunately, no one can prepare a 7-year-old for the effects of adult-level stress.
One of the main triggers that came from my childhood trauma was rejection. And not only could I not cope with rejection, but I also gained a fear of it. Once you fear something you've given it power over you and it becomes almost impossible to loosen those chains. Not only did I struggle with natural stress from everyday life, but I started to fear potential triggering stressful situations. I couldn't handle it and I wanted to figure out why I was like this and how I could retrain my mind to adapt to stress instead of running away from it.
I'm the type of person to research things when I feel like I'm on to something. It's like, if I am reacting a certain way then there must be a scientific or even biblical explanation for it! And so the in-depth google searching began. I ended up reading a lot about how the human body reacts to stress and the way it releases chemicals that are meant to support your fight-or-flight response. Typically when a person has had some form of a traumatic life event they tend to not be able to handle the amount of 'stressors' provided and the chemical production struggles to regulate to a normal amount. This can, in turn, cause a lot of physical pain and issues. And I don't know about you, but when pain is added to a mentally stressful situation its almost as if there's no calming down. The bible really makes sense now when you read what the Word has to say about fear, stress, and anxiety. In doing all of this research I was able to learn a lot about the "why's" but I still couldn't figure out how to get rid of my chronic stress. Naturally, I turned to Yahweh for help. Praying for my anxieties to just disappear wasn't really working for me. And then one day, during my quiet time with the Lord, I felt Holy Spirit tell me to deal with the unforgiveness in my heart, and then I would be set free from all of my irrational fears and stress.
WOW. Just let that sink in.
Who would have thought that I had to forgive in order to be healed? Well, it surely makes sense if you understand the side effects of unforgiveness and everything the bible says about the matter.
I remember a friend of mine even told me that unforgiveness was like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die... She was right. I had held all of my trauma so close and never forgave the people that hurt me. In turn, I began to fear things I should've had power over and I let my unforgiveness get the better of me...
Now, am I still a person who can tend to not deal with stress well? of course! But now I try my very best to not let unforgiveness stand in the way of a much happier, much more peaceful "me". Take charge of your life! Don't let things of the past way you down. Your choices yesterday can affect your 'today'.