The Unsexiness of Stress
In the last while, my partner Midgie has been working on getting her PhD. Thankfully, I haven’t been through this process, but I hear it can be a bit of a challenge, and lately she’s been a little stressed out. Sometimes when Midgie gets stressed, I take a stroll outside or spend some time in the library reading one of the books I’ve written. It’s not that I don’t want to help her out, but stress is contagious, and catching someone else’s virus doesn’t help cure them.
Midgie said once that she was jealous of the fact that I didn’t seem to be affected by stress. I told her what I tell a lot of people who ask me about stress. First, I am affected by it. Stress is like an undisciplined dog. When it eats your shoes, you can’t avoid being affected by it. The average person says “Oh no” and wrings their hands over the shoes, then gets over it, buys a new pair of shoes, and places them in front of the dog. What do I do? I use my noggin and put the dog outside.
You see, stress is a kind of cascading, self-amplifying response. We all have stressors, so it isn’t the stress that’s the problem, nor even the situation that generated it. It’s you standing there, wringing your hands while the stupid dog eats your shoes. It’s your reaction to that situation, and then your reaction to your reaction. Why do you do this? Well, for most it’s the feeling of fear. It can be the fear of helplessness, or the fear of abandonment, or the fear of survival. When something generates that feeling, then the Stress Regeneration Machine powers up and gets to work.
It’s not that I don’t get stressed, it’s that I power down the Stress Regeneration Machine almost as soon as I hear it turn on. If the dog acts up, I put the dog outside, plain and simple. The reason I can do this, and the reason you can do it too is that none of those situations that come up are outside of my ability to handle them.
Now, I know what you’re saying to yourself. “Sure, Dr. Matt says I can just drop my stress just like he said I could drop my problems.” I know, I make it sound simple. And I only make it sound simple because, well, it is. When stress has you wrapped up like a hazing at a fraternity, everything seems dramatic and complicated. It seems that way because that’s exactly what stress does. It’s its job to make everything seem complicated. So, rest assured, if you’re stressed and it seems like the world is going to end, then that’s a good indicator that everything is perfectly fine, and it’s going to turn out alright.
Look, Midgie is going to get her PhD. Why on earth would anyone keep one from that sexy lady, especially when it’s a PhD in Human Sexuality? Therefore, the stress is not an indicator of the truth, only the echo of a lie. And I don’t have much time for things that lie, but maybe you have more time on your hands than I do.
So, those of you who get stressed, I’ll say to you what I said to Midgie: “Breathe deep, relax, and know that very soon, you’re going to teach a whole bunch of people about weird sex.”
Just My Thoughts,