They say the best way to boil a lobster is placing it in water and turning up the temperature. The lobster builds tolerance to the increasing water temperature before succumbing. We’re the same. We let stressful situations build until we reach our boiling point and then we become the figurative dinner of our stressors. Since we can’t live a completely sheltered life to avoid stress, we must recognize when we’re thrown into the metaphorical water.
Here’s an example:
I had a job for years until one day I was called into a meeting where I was asked to take all my stuff and go. No warning… right? I blamed others: my stupid boss and lazy coworkers. There wasn’t a reason why I was officially “laid off,” canned really, so not only was I the lobster in the water, I couldn’t get out. I was left stewing over the reasons.
I straightened myself out, figured out who I was, and figured out where I went wrong. I started out as a model employee, sacrificing my identity for the good of the job for years, before becoming miserable. I dragged my feet through the last six months. If that version of myself were my employee now, I would have immediately mercy fired him.
With that experience, I can now see when I’m being thrown in the water.
A normal, and perhaps quickly becoming “the ideal,” job involves arriving, doing the work, and leaving. No lingering stress. There’s always going to be the routine stress of getting to work, doing good work for yourself and your bosses, and dealing with others. That stress should dissipate after leaving work. No metaphorical water there.
An anxious job can quickly balloon your weight or worse.
Gauging our reactions after complaining about stresses might help determine the metaphorical temperature of that water. If I’m too wrapped up in the emotions of the situation I’m vitriolically going on about to consider different perspectives, even if I politely decline the advice, I’m probably in boiling water and something needs to change.
That’s why it’s important not to personify stress as people.
If we’re the aforementioned waterlogged Beast Man, we must focus on getting out of the water. Focusing on the personification of our stress will lead to hate rather than recovery. The aforementioned Dr. Mindbender could be an incidental force, an accidental attacker, or even an innocent victim from a different perspective.
They could even become allies to help us out of the water!
Now I can identify when I’m overwhelmed with stressful situations that can cause me to become a miserable burden. I have more outlets now for stress. Creative endeavours like writing or drawing are almost purpose built for that! If I don’t feel like writing, for example, it’s a minor alarm that something is off.
One day is fatigue.
More than that?