A while back I used to have a friend who lived in my area. She had just sold her house for £4.5 million pounds and yet every time I saw her she was complaining about not knowing where to put her money. She was so stressed about it and she could talk about nothing else. Every single time we met!
While we may not be in quite as extreme a situation as my friend, we can often to relate to how in a period of high stress we lose touch with the good things that we have going on and can only seem to focus on the bad.
To see why we do this happens it’s useful to think about what stress is.
The most useful way to understand being stressed is that the internal systems that we use to process the demands of our lives simply aren't coping.
Like any machine that is run at levels beyond its capacity, at a certain point it just can't take any more.
On the day-to-day level we may experience this as creating anxiety or it may make us feel irritable or overwhelmed. But over weeks and months and years unresolved stress will often go into the body and become hard-wired as stress patterns that come out in illness.
In many respects our lives are much less stressful than previously. Life expectancy is longer, many of us live with a quality of life that would have been unimaginable even 50 years ago and in many developed countries there are large areas that are relatively safe.
So why is stress continuing to be such a huge and apparently ever-increasing issue in our lives?
There are a couple of different parts to the answer that relate to the changing world we live in and especially the effects of the technological revolution we’re in the midst of.
We feel stressed when our internal coping mechanisms are overwhelmed. In an increasingly virtual world it is our perception of threat and stress that becomes increasingly important.
As the landmarks of the physical world are less prominent in our virtual lives it becomes harder to break out of the cycle of stress. In addition many of the major technology platforms are designed to monopolise our focus, and as a result we are effectively being trained to become less self-reliant when it comes to managing our internal stress levels.
In addition with the introduction of the internet and smartphones the demands that are placed on us in terms of information processing have spiralled exponentially.
One study suggests that we are exposed to 34GB of information daily. Even if we are not taking this all in, it’s a huge amount of information to be bombarded with.
I am sure that as a species we will adapt to this deluge. But as individuals if we don’t have a system in place to manage all this extra information it can easily lead to a high background level of stress- and a correspondingly lower ability to respond creatively when stressful situations happen.
Because of this sense of overwhelm we tend to try and slap band aids over the stress where it shows up- in our relationship, at work, our family life- rather than addressing it at its root cause, the internal operating system that governs how we respond to stress.
Because things keep changing so fast the only way that we can manage our stress is by improving our ability to adapt. In a time when things are evolving at an ever increasing pace the system we use to process stress has to be robust and flexible enough to help us keep on top of the stress in our lives.
This is the entire focus of the Samaii Method for creative stress management.
Instead of trying to only resolve stress where it manifests the Samaii Method uses the problem itself to go directly to the cause and improve the operating system and internal rules that govern how we manage stress.
Instead of running from one problem to the next fire-fighting each issue becomes a doorway through which we can step to uplevel our whole set of coping and stress management skills.
The bedrock of this method lies in understanding that all of us no matter who we are, where we come from or what we have done in our lives we are at our essence creative beings.
This is not just the creativity that we see in art, music, craft or drama- this is the foundation of our individuality as a person and our ability to live a truly satisfying life.
Our creativity is the pure expression of who we really are in this and every moment. And if we find methods to help it to work for us it will start to bring us a constant stream of new solutions and possibilities- to even the most long-standing and intractable issues.
The best thing about our creativity is that it is built into each and every one of us. But because of misguided parental, educational and societal ways of doing things it gets covered up. This means it can never be broken and we can always regain access to it- no matter how far away from it we might feel at times.
Ok. So that's a long way from worrying about paying the bills, an ignorant boss or a frustrating partner. But the process of how we manage ourselves is what determines how well we can move out of stress and more fully into a fuller expression of our best selves. And this is the first step to building a life that we really want.
So how do we do this? There are a few different skills we need. The first the understanding that comes from having a framework to understand how stress and creativity work. It has to be practical in dealing with issues now and also be flexible enough to support our growing, changing and evolving lives.
Once we have an understanding of the framework we can focus our energy on the two key leverage points where we can make the most difference.
The first leverage point is becoming adept at finding our way out of overwhelm. This enables us to start to feel once again like empowered agents in our lives.
The second leverage point is to become the embodiment of ourselves as the person who focuses on what we really want. This authentic desire is the doorway to creating space for the creative self to flourish.
When we focus on these three keys to unlocking the creative self we create the right conditions for the creative self to emerge into the world. As the creative self comes more fully into our lives our stress levels start to diminish naturally and our sense of satisfaction, purpose and quality of life go up.
And we start to notice and appreciate the good things that are already around us.