Recipes For Stress
By Charlie Badenhop
It is within your power to reduce the stressful reactions
that you have. A key to changing your reactions is being
able to track the way in which you generate stress.
Recently, a coaching colleague told me a story about his
client "Jim" who gets into many arguments and confrontations
with others. After each altercation Jim spends a good deal
of time attempting to convince my coaching colleague as to
how the other person's behavior was the catalyst for what
took place. One of his favorite expressions is "I hate it
when people jump to conclusions without first getting all of
the facts." In return my colleague has spent a good deal of
time trying to show Jim how his behavior and thinking play a
key role in creating his many problems.
Recently, Jim asked my colleague to accompany him on a
business trip. On the second day of their trip they are
walking down the street together late at night, having just
finished a marathon business negotiation. They are both
feeling a little bit ill at ease because they are not
familiar with their surroundings, and they are concerned
they might be targeted for violence since they obviously are
not part of the local population.
All of a sudden they hear another set of footsteps walking
behind them. Jim wheels around to see who is following them,
and as he does so the man behind them quickly places his
hand inside his coat in the area of his breast pocket.
Fearing the worst, Jim wheels back around and dashes out
onto the street in an attempt to get away from the gun he
believes the man is pulling out. Boom! Jim gets hit not by a
speeding bullet, but by a speeding car.
The man who Jim had been frightened by runs towards him as
he lays bleeding on the street, and uses the handkerchief he
already has in his hand, to stem the flow of Jim's blood. It
turns out that luckily for Jim the man is a doctor. Fairly
soon the bleeding is stopped and it appears that Jim will
need some stitches and a cast for his broken left leg, and
after about thirty minutes an ambulance arrives to take Jim
to the hospital.
Once Jim is on the stretcher and before being hoisted up
into the ambulance he thanks the man for his help, and then
asks, "Excuse me, but do you mind if I ask you what you were
pulling out from under your coat when I first turned around
to confront you?" "Why the very same handkerchief I used to
stem the flow of your blood." the doctor says. "I have been
having my usual spring allergy response, and I was just
ready to have a violent sneeze when you all of a sudden
dashed out in the street and totally distracted me. My
goodness, just now I am realizing that this is the first
time today I have gone more than ten minutes without
"Now please let me ask you a question." the doctor says.
"Why in the world did you jump out in the street immediately
upon seeing me?" Jim quickly replies "Well, we were in a
dangerous neighborhood, and all of a sudden out of nowhere
you were following us, and it seemed clear that you were
reaching for a gun or other weapon. How would you expect me
The doctor smiles and says "Well, my friend, it seems to me
that you jumped to numerous inaccurate conclusions. First
you thought that the neighborhood was dangerous when in fact
it is one of the safest neighborhoods in our city, although
most likely a much poorer neighborhood than where you come
from. Since you thought you were in a dangerous place you
were predisposed to something dangerous taking place. I am
guessing the fact that it was late at night, only added to
your sense of fear."
"Yes" Jim said, "All of what you say is true."
"And the fact that initially there was no one else walking
on the street except for the two of you, most likely made my
footsteps sound much louder and more ominous. Is this not
Jim slowly nods "Yes."
"So" the doctor continued, "With those kinds of thoughts
and fears running around in your head, when I stepped out of
my house to go visit a patient you immediately thought that
I was following you although frankly I hadn't even really
noticed you, as I was beginning a build up to a big sneeze."
"The only thing that made sense to you in the frame of mind
you were in, was to believe that I was a criminal pulling
out a weapon."
"I'm sorry." Jim said.
"No need to be sorry." the doctor says. "You have not
caused me any harm." "Indeed you have helped me to have a
much clearer understanding of how my clients create stress
The doctor pauses for a moment and then says, "Let's
imagine that you and your friend were walking down this very
same street, but at two o'clock in the afternoon instead of
late at night, and there was one or two people already
walking in front of you, and one person already walking
behind you at a comfortable distance. How do you think you
would respond to my coming out of my house in such an
instance?" "Hmm." says Jim. "I might not have even noticed
"And here is another idea the doctor says. "What if
everything initially happened just like it did this evening,
but you had taken some self defense training and felt
confident in your ability to defend yourself, and also
perhaps partly because of your training, you had the
tendency to be both relaxed and aware. How do you think you
would have responded then?" "I can't say for sure since I
never had such training." Jim says, "But pretty much
guaranteed at the very least I would not have jumped out in
front of the car."
"And since you have been so kind so far." the doctor says,
"One more thing if you don't mind." "Your fear of being in
dangerous surroundings led you to block out the only real
danger that was present - A car speeding down the street.
Perceiving danger all around you, you jumped in front of the
only danger there was, and thus you created a self
"Yes" Jim says, "I feel quite humbled. This is a difficult
way to learn a very important lesson. But better that I
learned this lesson today rather than continuing to struggle
for many years to come. Now I can truly understand what
happens when one consistently jumps to conclusions without
having all of the facts, and assumes that something terrible
will take place. Thank you for all of your assistance."
Does this story have any special relevance to you and how
you sometimes react to what is going on around you? In any
one circumstance there can be many possible responses. and
many possible outcomes. Have a different set of beliefs and
you will respond differently. Have a different set of
capabilities and training and you will respond differently.
Change the way you use your body and you will respond
differently. Change the environment that you are in and you
will respond differently.
To learn to track the way in which you generate stress, try
one of the classic Seishindo Practices - "Body + Language =
Emotional Experience" at
Stress is a particular emotional state. Emotion consists of
language AND body. Emotion is a system that is coherent at a
deeper level than language or body taken separately. When
your emotional state changes there is a concurrent change in
your body, and in your use of language (including your
internal thought processes). When your emotions truly
change, you will notice a change in the way you use your
body AND a change in the way you think about and describe
your experience. When your emotions truly change you will
feel better about who you are and what you are capable of.
Greater self awareness leads to a more relaxed and creative
use of your entire system. When you feel better, you think
better, and new solutions begin to become apparent. All of
which leads to a greater likelihood that you will meet the
challenges you face with great success.
About the author:
Charlie Badenhop, the originator of Seishindo, an instructor
of Aikido, a long term practitioner of Self-relations
therapy and Ericksonian Hypnosis. Has students throughout
the world. Charlie's workshops on Somatic Intelligence have
been part of Stephen Gilligan's Trance Camp summer workshop
series since 1999. Contact Charlie at firstname.lastname@example.org
and subscribe to his free newsletter "Pure heart, simple
mind" at http://www.seishindo.org/newsletter.html