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Stress will take your life, no doubt about it! It might not kill you, but if you allow it to go grow and fester it will eat you up from the inside out, dampening down everything you love and enjoy, whilst at the same time washing the colours from everything you see.

The crazy thing about stress is that we mostly do it to ourselves! There is no god of stress that decides to spread his wings and swoop down to engulf us. We don’t need this because we have our minds which are far more effective than any celestial being.

We have a view of the world which we have built up over time and anything that conflicts with this or interferes with the way we see ourselves, or the world around us, can cause us stress. Our kids, our parents, our job, our partner, the news in general, all these things and many more cause us stress. Even things we can do nothing about!

Stress is actually a good thing and it is probably one of the reasons why we survived as a species. We perceive a threat and then react to it appropriately. In times of danger this is a very healthy response and with luck we might even live through the event, however the body cannot always tell the difference between a physical threat, a mental or emotional one. The mind reacts, hormones are released and body enters into stress, even if the threat is not real.

For example, something happens at work and you feel stressed; the body is preparing to fight or run from a predator, but in reality, there is no physical threat, just a disagreement or difficult situation. This is a common reaction that occurs every day in thousands of places to many people in all walks of life.

People are the cause of lots of stress! Their viewpoints, methods of working, talking or just interacting, really wind us up. BUT our stress response is changeable and not constant! So why is it that some days we can deal with difficult people better than we can on other days? The simple is answer is us and our minds. That person is probably the same day in, day out, but on one specific day we find them really irritating and that is because we have changed in our outlook towards them.

I was once told you cannot change people, they can only change themselves. All we can do is modify the way we deal with them, i.e. change ourselves. We have to accept them as they are, not as we wish them to be. In many ways they are being true to themselves and it is US that has a problem with them.

In Systema we are taught acceptance is one of the keys to understanding. All the time we try and change anything external to ourselves builds tension within us, because as mentioned earlier we cannot change anybody else and to be honest our opportunity to change most things in life are limited. The only thing we can change is how we think about things and how we act.

If we accept that where we are at the moment is real and we have to deal with it, then we can look with honest eyes at our options and act accordingly with the opportunities we actually have available, not the ones we would like to be there. If, however, we continually try to change the situation and others to suit our needs and they don’t do as we want, then this builds frustration, anger and leads to stress and tension

Therefore, acceptance is hard to do sometimes, but it is really important to growth and personal development. Try to think of that the next time someone causes you stress, it might make a difference.

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