The stress that comes from hard work has positive benefits. Peak performance experts like Jim Loehr believe there is ample data to support the premise that positive stress is key to personal growth. We may feel tired and anxious but we become more fit mentally. Overall it’s a good thing.
Bad stress, which I believe comes from continual interpersonal conflict and/or being in an environment where our personal sense of power and control is significantly diminished, is literally toxic. There is also undeniable data confirming bad stress as a root cause of physical and psychological damage.
When we find ourselves in a toxic environment we need to make it a priority to change it. If it’s interpersonal we have to constructively address this with the other(s) involved. When the other party is our boss, we have to put the matter on the table regardless of how politically difficult this may seem. If we are unable to resolve this conflict, I believe we need to find another work situation. Too often however, I find that people avoid interpersonal conflict rather than positively confronting it.
When we find ourselves where our personal control is so diminished that we “can’t win,” a new game plan is required where we can realistically expect different results. Too often people do the same things over and over wishing for different results. It is the “buy a lottery ticket and hope” strategy.
Applying the Character Triangle is a framework for confronting toxic stress. Ideally it helps us put an interpersonal fight behind us and others, and puts us in better control for developing a plan to achieve winning results. If not and we’ve given it our best shot, it is likely time to find an environment where we can enjoy good stress and put bad stress in the rear view mirror.
Live healthy; live the triangle.