Less Helpful Drugs
If you tell yourself, “This is a stressful situation,” your brain is prompted to action because it can only do what it’s told. An alert is sent to your adrenal gland: “We need some cortisol. Now!” With the infusion of this and other stress hormones, you quickly experience the physical reactions of short, shallow breathing, hypervigilance and irritation; all requiring a lot of energy and leading you to feeling tired and worn out. In addition, you remember other stressful situations you’ve had, which add to the intensity of the moment. Stress upon stress, all because you told yourself you were stressed.
Now I’m not suggesting you lie to yourself. You’re too smart for that and situational delusion is not an admirable trait. If you’re in a stressful situation, well…that’s just where you are. So talk to yourself another way.
More Helpful Drugs
If you tell yourself, “This is a stressful situation AND I am capable of handling it, just like other times before,” your brain is directed differently. It activates a different combination of substances in your system that prompts a different response. Instead of preparing to endure a situation, you prepare to engage a situation.
With a shot of dopamine and other related endorphins, you anticipate and power through the stressful situation with much greater energy and drive. In addition, you recall your great moments of achievement when you had to muster all your resources and were successful.
The point is this: what you tell yourself drives which chemicals your body will emit. So yes, you use drugs. Just be smart with the chemicals you choose so that they work for you.
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