Stress Coping Techniques: Stigma, Stress, and Solutions
Today’s article, on stress coping techniques, I wrote as an expanded and built-out version of the advice I had for a reader in the comments section of Chase’s article “Are You Smart? It Doesn’t Much Matter Either Way.” The reader in question was having problems coping with his emotions and the situation around a woman in his life:
“Chase what can I do to stop caring about people. And I don't mean it in a cold way but I care for this one girl a lot and it's messing up my head and making me very emotional. It's not like the article when you wrote "can't stop thinking about her", this girl has done a lot for me and she makes me happy but My feelings are strong for her and I hate having feelings. I feel weak and out of control, I'm not asking on how to get her I just want to get rid of my feelings and take control of my emotions. Also chase idk if you working on it or not but I asked for an article on self esteem/inferiority complex? I just want to know if you Remembered about it. Thank you”
I had the idea for this article for a while, but I left it alone for three main reasons:
Stress and emotions are often difficult to teach how to manage
It’s hard to go into lengthy detail and provide enough pragmatic steps to mold your coping mechanisms in a way that’s truly helpful
It’s not easy to simply cast away your emotions
I think this way from experience, because while I myself personally find it easy cope and move on, it can be incredibly hard to help someone else become that way. Really the only way I’ve found to fundamentally change people is by becoming a role model for them, and to help them over long periods of time.
However, I do have some good solid advice that I’d like to share with you today, and some steps you can follow when things go awry.
Chase covered a bit of this in his article “Can't Stop Thinking About Her? Here's Why You Need to Meet More Girls…”
And Ricardus’s post “Get Over Your Ex: 13 Steps to (Emotional) Freedom” went into some of this too.
Stress coping techniques involve a lot of figuring out what’s on your mind - then getting it off your mind. And we’ll review some of what these articles discussed here today too.
But first I’d like to go into another topic that is very
related to stress coping, and that’s this: psychological ailments and their
effects. Because while stress is bad, other things that can
either cause it or come from it can often work in conjunction with it
to make the matter worse, and if you’re going to combat them, you need
to first know what they are.
The Burden of Stigma
While the advent of psychology came with the understanding of the brain and its ailments. Yet, with this new understanding of the mind also came an unfortunate social side-effect that is (or can be) crippling: stigma.
Remember, labels are powerful. Labels, in case the term doesn’t immediately conjure an image in your mind, are the words and terms used to describe things; and, often, used to define things. By labeling yourself, or by letting someone else label you, you are effectively saying, “I am X.”
I cannot stress this enough, because
not only are labels strongly
able to manipulate someone’s actions through
social pressure, labels also act
to limit their labelees and place constraints upon them. Labeling
forces you, as the labeled, to climb into the box
that has been decided for you, and
even manages to suffocate you and stifle your protest to the contrary
in the process... even if those labels are, allegedly, good.
The second you compliment someone with positive labels, for instance - such as smart, capable, hard-working, sexy - he or she will try to live up to that image. Which is great... but also crippling.
What happens when you label someone and he cannot live up to that image?
What happens when you label yourself and fail?
What happens when you call someone smart, but she fails to satisfy your expectations?
Chase delved into this in the “Are You Smart?” article when he discussed research that found the children in the study praised for being hard-working out performed the children in the study praised for being smart. Those who were praised for being smart felt compelled to fit themselves into that mold and live up to their reputations as “smart,” and as a result of this, in response to that label they’d been praised with and cursed with earlier on in life, they ended up fearful of taking on challenges that ran the risk of seeing them fail to live up to expectations.
What Chase didn’t focus on or much explore in that article though were some of the problems that stem from failing to meet expectations, and some of the tragic results you’ll see in everyday life. Here are just a few I’ve experienced through friends and family:
I’ve had multiple close friends kill themselves (yes... multiple)
I’ve dated women who had “baggage” (rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse, self abuse, anything you can think of), and told me they could never commit to anyone again
I’ve had friends who were close to killing themselves, before I managed to turn them around
I’ve had friends who were recluses, afraid to meet new people
I’ve had with friends who grew up with verbally abusive parents, with these friends having grown up hearing things like that their parents wished they were never born
I’ve had friends who were too afraid to live their lives because they were too afraid of social pressure from family, friends, or religion
I’ve had friends become crippled (even myself briefly), and become depressed and/or resentful
I’ve had parents/grandparents/relatives beaten simply because they did not follow the norms (like my grandfather, beaten for writing with his left hand by the nuns who took him in)
I’ve experienced family members going through extreme manic episodes, or in agonizing/torturous pain
I’ve had gay friends who were persecuted by others (and occasionally even have seen them berated by strangers in front of me)
I hardly need remind you of certain of the violent tragedies we read about daily in the newspaper and on TV, and the media’s constant recounting of them and fixation on the lives of their perpetrators and victims.
All of these things stem, to some degree
or another, back to those seemingly innocuous little words we place
upon others with such heavy burden... labels.
Why is Stigma So Powerful?
These blow-ups, implosions, self-destructions, violent lashings-out, crushings of self-esteem, letting go of dreams, withdrawals out of the real world and into seclusion or fantasy... all of this is what happens when you pressure someone into fitting into a mold that they do not belong in, and it’s what happens when you try to fit yourself into that mold.
It doesn’t work.
Well, okay, you might say. Easy enough to solve; why not just go see
a head doctor?
The truth is, while academic psychology is great for understanding the problems, it is terrible at solving them.
This is what stigma comes from: it can, but doesn’t need to, result from a show of disapproval... or, it can simply be the failure to achieve expectations that are set for us. Here are some reasons I’ve seen that cause people to become depressed, defeatist, or even suicidal due to pressure:
Failure to do well in school or career, and succeed
Failure to be “normal” (being gay, being irreligious, being sexually active)
Failure to be “untainted” (not a virgin, baggage, abuse, etc.)
Failure to be active or social (to have friends, to be loved)
Failure of acceptance by parents / peers / authority figures / etc.
I’ve seen enough of these.
We need to stop labeling so much, and reinforcing behaviors. We need to stop setting expectations for others that cause them to fail.
What Do I Mean By “Stop Labeling People?”
This means no more telling that person you’re trying to help that he may have problems with anxiety or narcissism. This means no more telling someone she has a learning disorder or that he has motivation problems with school.
This means no more labeling people, period.
If you tell someone he has a disorder, you’ve just set the expectation that he isn’t normal and needs to pick up the slack.
If you tell someone he is narcissistic, it carries a negative stigma of them being sinful.
If you tell someone she has anxiety issues, it carries a stigma of being a coward.
If you tell someone she has a learning disorder, it makes her feel dumb.
If you tell someone he lacks motivation, it makes him feel like a delinquent or sloth.
This also means you need to stop labeling yourself. Stop self-diagnosing and setting a standard for yourself, especially since the DSM (the fifth is to be soon released around May 2013) is always changing.
If you’re trying to help yourself or someone, don’t go saying, “Oh this may be ___ disorder you’ve got there... oh man, that’s bad.”
No, it should be more like:
“Okay, so clearly we have a problem, but that’s okay, we can fix this. What are some things we can do to fix this temporary situation?”
For the mean time, just stop labeling thing. Stop trying to name, categorize, and define every single thing as its own discrete “problem.” Everyone has an insecurity or two, but labeling those insecurities gives them more power. Just relax and realize you (or they) have got to work on some things, and again -- it's temporary.
The best part about having a lot of experience with stress is that it teaches you to look at the whole of the picture. It makes you realize that situations are never black and white.
Socially awkward folk aren’t losers, they just haven’t learned as quick as others or they haven’t realized yet how they come off.
That jackass drunk guy is the same too: he’s unhappy with his life, so he has a feeling of inadequacy that causes him to act that way.
The girl in the red dress who’s looking to bring home a guy is not a slut - she’s just looking to feel loved.
The virgin girl who is a huge tease isn’t trying to be that way, she’s just afraid of what others will think of her if she gives herself up to you.
The woman who recently almost ran a shopping cart straight into my fresh-out-of-the-cast foot multiple times was stressing out about what to make for dinner (or so I hope..) for her family.
When we label with negative things we are sidestepping the issues at hand by acting rashly and impulsively. We aren’t stopping to see the real problems that are resulting in the symptoms (often it’s inadequacy).
And what’s worse, when we rush to label things, we fall victim to
the psychological trap of othering (see people as unrelatable “others”
who are less than human beings), and shortchange our empathy - which limits our abilities to work with
others to achieve whatever it is we most want, for ourselves and for them.
Looking at the world in such a clear-cut, black-and-white way may be
faster... and easier... but
it creates a huge disaster,
and is asking (or perhaps even begging) for trouble. This is not a
recommended technique for coping with stress.
But what exactly should you do in more extreme situations though? What if it’s not something longer term, but something rather more immediate?
What do you do when you and your girlfriend or wife are separating?
How should you handle the death of a loved one?
How do you get over your lust for a woman?
Simply put... how do you move on?
It’s easy to get lost, and feel inadequate or not worthy. It’s easy to fall into a downward spiral and not know where to go next, or what to do.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. You can mold yourself into a coping machine; someone who can come out of any situation feeling great. You’ll be a bulletproof and unstoppable tank.
It took some thinking, but I’ve got it down to a few simple steps that you can apply to any situation.
Once you’ve got these down things become EASY. Life never seems to get down for more than a few minutes, and when things go awry, you’ll instantly start to become more motivated.
You know that when things get bad... that just means that there are good things to come.
So what are these steps, anyway?
Coping with Stress: The 3 Steps
Once you get good at these three steps, you learn to come out of ugly situations incredibly well, and super motivated. The instant it hits the fan, you’ll say to yourself, "Okay, it’s hitting the fan.. anti-stress-cloak ENGAGE!," and you’ll walk away from the whole scene with elation and a refreshed outlook.
Here the steps are, in the order you’ll employ them:
#1: Step Back
The most immediate stage: learning to take a step back. This is so vital, as you cannot ever get caught up in the murky, poisonous atmosphere of stress and stigma.
You have to see the room (or place, or situation) for what it is, and not let your emotions get ahold of you before you can determine what to do.
This is the stage where you first throw on your cape and deflect the metaphorical missile flying towards you at high velocity. You are impervious... so relax and let the situation settle before you make any reactions.
This also applies to pickup quite well. It’s okay to be nervous on the approach, just so long as you know that it’s temporary. It will pass as long as you relax and stop worrying about doing any sort of damage controlling. You don’t need to apologize or mention that you’re nervous; even if you spill your drink all over her, most of the time a girl will never even realize it (it here being your nervousness, not the drink spilling).
In fact, this (calling attention to your nervousness) is such a common error of interviewees that it’s written in books on the subject. Don’t bring up any mention of the fact that you’re uncomfortable. Often interviewers have no idea until being told this, and it really only serves to lower your value by making you come across inexperienced and apprehensive.
On top of actually stepping back from the scenario, it’s a good idea to take a break. It will get your mind off things, and let you come back to it with a fresh state of mind.
Here are some ideas you can do to step back, or take a break from the situation:
Grab some ice cream, and watch movies or marathon a show
Finish a few video games you never got around to
Exercise and do sports. Go ahead and run a mile... or a marathon
Read a book (or three)
Play or listen to music
Relax. Forget. Enjoy.
Anything that lets you do these three things is fine and good by me. Whether they are social or not is up to you, just try to have them be unrelated to your problems. I personally like to shut myself in a dark room and watch TV while my phone is turned off, but that’s just me... I know Ricardus also needs his day off every week and Chase ... well, Chase used to too before he became a work zombie (as he puts it, anyway).
The second stage of our three-step process for coping with stress: using logic to assess the situation after taking a step back.
There are two parts to this, depending on the stressor. If it’s an immediate problem that needs to be dealt with right away, then your inner dialog should go something along the lines of this:
“Okay, I know I’m nervous. Just relax.”
“Why am I so nervous? I’ve done this so many times before.”
“It will pass -- everything is temporary. Stay cool.”
“I bet you she’s just as nervous as me.. hah!”
“This is kind of amusing, she’s so fidgety.”
“Oh, she’s very animated.. maybe she’s trying to impress me?”
“...maybe I should move her..”
“Hmm, I wonder what’s at home to eat..? Oh right. Move.”
As you can see... the more you rationalize the more you tend to shift towards a nonchalant and productive attitude... or at least that’s what you should strive for.
Stray away from negative thoughts by realizing that you’re in a bad situation and that it will improve. Rationalize it so you understand why (or why not), and that it’s silly. You will find yourself winding down and ceasing to care so much... in fact, the situation in question may even become amusing. As you get better at this you’ll slip into the mindset effortlessly.
It’s a little different with less immediate circumstances:
Your girlfriend broke up with you? That’s okay, you’ll find someone better.
Suck at your sport? Oh well, you’ll improve.
You’re stuck and too weak? You can get stronger.
You’ve plateaued, and can’t progress? You’ll break through.
Worried about what others think about you? That’s okay, there are 7 billion of them.
Feeling weak or inadequate SUCKS, but it's not the end of the world. You've got to remember you can always become better, and there are always those weaker than you (as well as stronger).
We always have setbacks.
I recently broke my foot in multiple places taking a fall while rock climbing. As a result of this, rock climbing scares me to death now, and my skill level also went down the gutter. My buddies became even better while I was gone, so it's a bit frustrating.
I'm pushing myself though, and luckily I have good friends who think similarly about confronting fears. Feels awful when I suck, but oh well. I know I'll quickly return to what I once was.
You’ve got to learn to tell yourself: "It's no big deal, it sucks, but what can I do besides move on and do the best at what I do... well... best?" and then move on.
I learned this kind of thinking quite well from a girl I used to climb with. She fell 80 or so feet to the ground, onto her back. Many broken bones (including her spine) and surgeries later she was in a wheelchair. Two months later she was climbing again after the doctors had said she was going to be in a wheelchair for two years.
She would break her fingers all the time, and just tape them up.
Actually... shortly after my meeting her she broke her shoulder and
Two weeks later I saw her on the wall at the gym again. Geez. It didn’t
help that the girl even LOOKED like Lara Croft. She was virtually
destined to have a will of bolts and steel.
It helps to discuss with friends. While academic psychology may not be helpful for problem solving, it’s sister, psychotherapy, often is. Therapy has been found to be one of the most influential ways of getting help, so find a friend who's good with women or life, and discuss your problems with him. Do stay away from taking dating advice from women if you’re a man, though.
#3: Plan for the Future
The stress coping third stage: planning.
After taking a step back, and rationalizing your situation, start focusing on advancing your life. The best cure for sadness is happiness, and that typically comes only with growth.
Remember, it's not the end of the world. It's hard to reset a current situation you're in, but there are always new people to meet and scenarios to experience. It's not worth your focus and energy to fix a problem... so simply move on.
Plan what you want to do with your life, or things you would like to be better at.
Some things include:
Advancing your career
Improve your body and diet (losing weight, bulletproof coffee)
Learn a new skill (new hobbies such as rock climbing, martial arts, etc.)
Socialize, and meet new women (day game, bars, clubbing)
Hangout with friends and family
Work on your fundamentals
Travel and enjoy what the world has to offer
Feelings aren’t bad, we just need to find the right kinds. Experience life, and relish in it. You don’t need to shut yourself off to the world, you just need to find the right part of it.
Find motivation by contemplating your future and it’s possibilities. This must be positive... obviously doing this in a negative fashion is not only ineffective, but detrimental. So keep it inspiring.
Imagine yourself with two or three new babes, who are all 10 times more beautiful than the last girl you dated, and pleasant as well. Imagine yourself being the king of the world. Imagine being successful, and famous.
This is something we can work towards, and achieve.
While we don’t really teach you on this site how to overthrow nations (yet), we do teach seduction (and quite well might I add), so do take advantage of that. If you’re bad with approaching then do day game to load up on your approaching experience and change that right quick. If you’re bad at the fundamentals, then work on your body (both in the physical fitness sense and in nonverbal attraction sense) or fashion.
If you’re bad with stress coping, we can work on that too. You just need to get a little... uncomfortable. This means putting yourself in odd situations that you’re not experienced with. This means confronting your fears, and is often why I like to advocate day game.
For me that means letting go and taking 20+ foot falls while attached to a rope to get over my new fear of falling. For you that may mean approaching 10 women a day to be able to handle stress.
But you can do it. Don't let stress stand in your way.
Because on the other side of, there's an entire world of good things just waiting to be found.
Get Your FREE eBook on Texting Girls
Sign up for our email insights series and get a copy of our popular ebook “How to Text Girls” FREE. Learn more ...
Trying to piece together a seduction strategy bit-by-bit, article-by-article, question-by-question? Stop killing yourself doing it the slow and difficult way - and get it all spelled out for you instead, in detail, in exactly the order you need to learn it... with homework, too.
With our complete mastery pick up package, you'll get our 406-page how-to eBook How to Make Girls Chase, our 63-minute long video Spellbinding: Get Her Talking, and 3 hours of audio training - all for less than the price of the book and video alone.
Quit banging your head against the wall - get it now, to speed your learning curve up dramatically... and start really getting the women you want to want you too. You can go right here to get started and be downloading your programs in minutes: How to Be a Pick Up Artist.