If sadness were to always follow stress and strain, and invariably precede by failure, what is the emotional capacity of the mind, that is, how much can it take? If an athlete can train her/his body to perform more and sustain more than fellow humans, can there be a way to make the mind more capable of dealing with emotional drain? Why are there so many questions when there are always so few answers? To protect oneself one has to be aware of what can hurt. Unless the arrow is identified the amour cannot be designed.
What does hurt the mind? It is always a failure or sometimes even the fear of a failure! Failure is perceived or anticipated incapacity to meet the needs of one’s economy or emotions. This logically dissolves into the rhetoric whether emotional equilibrium is suffice to satiate needs that always have a definitive monetary price tag, and would economic freedom to indulge in exuberance would gratify the demands and desires of emotions!
What would a better state of living be? To begin with let us explore the economic well being which many feel can easily be assessed, defined and successfully accomplished. In the words of Gibbons, the definitive authority on the rise and fall of a culturally rich extravaganza, the answer is interesting, and can perhaps be applied at all times, in and for all times. He said,”According to the scales of Switzerland, I am a rich man; and I am indeed rich, since my income is superior to my expense, and my expense is equal to my wishes.” How wondrous would it be even to dream of this state; but then to be rich, or even assume to satisfy one that the self is rich, is not a guarantee for a life free of stress.
The rich and the poor have an equal amount of tears stored in their eyes; the mind just opens these reservoirs when emotional stress threatens to break the dam of security. So, is emotional stress more difficult to cope with than economic stress? Perhaps yes, depending on one’s capacity to cope with either hunger or humiliation. If the hunger of pride can be suppressed, if the humiliation of hunger can be ignored, if the tenacity of temptation be shelved and if one can just be oneself, well, life can be without stress. Let us therefore define stress to understand, interpret and devise strategies to counter its influence on well-being.
STRESS is and can actually be either EUSTRESS or DISTRESS. (In a lighter but still angrier vein, I do recollect an ill-meaning person saying that the third form of stress was mistress!!). Over the years, just as how good words have become bad, and bad become good, unfortunately unknown to the moralists of modern Tamilnadu, (and here I mean both the protagonists and the antagonists of the shameful farce enacted in the tragic-comedy with a three letter title), the word stress has become associated with its sub-division distress, and eustress is ignored.
Even if we were to follow the last sheep in the line and accept stress as meaning distress, it would help to know the different types of distress. To begin with, let us enlist the types of stress (henceforth synonymous in this article with distress).
There are different types of stress!
- Disabling stress
- Disintegrating stress
- Desired stress
- Deliberate stress
- Dazed stress, and,
- Divine/irrational/incomprehensible fatality masquerading as stress.
It may perhaps help to facilitate the faculties of the mind of the distant yet endangered reader, to comprehend each of these, however concisely compressed this composition be.
In these cases, one becomes incapacitated in the present so much that the future goes bleaker and blank. The situations vary with age. In adolescence, a rejected poetic attempt can trigger an inability to do erstwhile capable tasks, and, with physiology partially inclined towards male exhibitionism, beards grow and cigarettes flout in public! At times, if the ladies who perchance read worry, these beards are substituted by neglect of self-care. If one cannot groom self, one cannot speak as usual, smile/frown/be even silent as usual, it may be deterioration. In the adolescent age ( unlike those ages- in terms of years -that it had been synonymous with the teen age of yester-years, it has been declared by the WHO as the age between 12 and 19 (?!!) , love is the incapacitating factor, often misinterpreted as the yearning of the biological leaning towards gratification from the opposite. As one grows older (not necessarily wiser) disability is directly proportional to the decline and disappointments of a Maslowian definition. Maslow was, (for the uninitiated, the ‘guru’ who said man (or human!) needs to satisfy needs primarily to move on in life; his needs in order were, physical, emotional, functional, and social and finally – in a way, spiritual)…joseph campbell diagress with this, and I agree with him
Disintegration was once called `hysteria’. The term became obsolete when people discovered that hysterus referred to the uterus, and it was not responsible for mental afflictions. Possession et al came in this category.
And then, we come to the interesting categories. Can stress ever be desired? Can it be a by-product of bedazzlement? Can on the contrary, it ever be a deliberation? All these questions are answered yes because of the next question. Can there be a stress because of
divine/irrational/incomprehensible fatality masquerading as stress? The answer is simple!
The mask, however minutely designed to masquerade, can never be the real face; so too with stress. Imaginations abound in stress because many think they formulate a refuge. On the contrary ( please think again, can any escape be an acquittal?), all attempts to fool future fall back and one is left to fume about the past while the present falls lower and lower with the clock’s second ( or is it third!?) hand.
Let us face reality. Money buys comforts. Comforts are bought by dreams. Dreams are designed by learning. Learning, if ever faulty, will give the wrong answer. Wrong answers fail. Failure saddens. Sadness is therefore avoidable!
Understand emotions, apply judicial introspection, arrive at conclusion, test it out and finally arrive – to draw a blue-print and build a future!
A hand is needed not just to lift the fallen from a pit, but often to support the trudge uphill. It can be your own hand if you have the courage and desire to climb out of a pit.
written in 2005