Module 4 – The Good Weather Factor: Managing Stress at Level 3
Many former Stress: Beyond Coping students say that Module 4 is the most life-changing part of the entire eLearning course. In this module you will be introduced, through up-to-date research and through personal experiences related by the presenters, to a list of the ten most powerful Stress-Absorbing Beliefs. This list is the product of over 30 years of the research and life experiences of the presenters, William “Skip” MacCarty, D. Min, and Pamela Coburn-Litvak, PhD.
Developing healthy, reality-based, Stress-Reducing Beliefs is one of the best things you can do to minimize and manage the stress in your life. The beliefs shared in this module are those recognized by many stress researchers and health professionals as the Stress-Reducing Beliefs par excellence. Merely having been exposed to the information presented here will better position you to deal with the major stressors of life.
In the next 8 sessions, you will examine each of these 10 beliefs in detail. Each will be stated in the form of a resolution, but will represent a life-altering Level 3 belief that has the power not only to prevent distress, but to transform it into health-promoting eustress. Any one of these beliefs can be enabling; cumulatively they can deliver a knock-out punch to nearly any stressor and transform you into a Level 3 stress manager. (For the initial discussion of Level 3 stress management see Module 3, sessions 1-3.)
Session 4.1: Discovering the Foundational Belief
This session (4.1) describes the core Stress-Reducing Belief—the very foundation for the other nine. This belief is shared through the story of a personal life crisis of Stress: Beyond Coping Founder and President/presenter, Skip MacCarty, during which he discovered the ability this belief has to provide hope in the midst of despair. This experience led Skip to learn and apply the other the stress management principles he now shares in Stress: Beyond Coping seminars and educational materials. In this session, you will:
- Discover how commonly used bases for self-esteem can result in rapid and wide swings between positive and negative feelings of self-worth and one's opinion of others.
- Learn the one, truly objective and unalterable foundation for a true estimate of our personal value and the value we place on others.
- Learn how applying this foundational belief can lead to a deep emotional awakening and the beginning of genuine healing from the worst stressors in life.
Session 4.2: Finding Release from Worry and Empowerment for Mission
Building on the foundational belief described in the previous session, and completing the discussion of the foundational belief introduced there, this session (4.2) also presents two additional powerful Stress-Reducing Beliefs which have the ability to release us from our worst fears, anxieties, and worries and empower us to move powerfully forward. In this session, you will discover:
- The most reliable release point for worry.
- The ability of the Serenity Prayer to disable the many stressors that are out of our control from harming us and to help us focus on the things that are under our control.
- Why advanced, Level 3 stress managers choose to focus on today’s opportunities rather yesterday’s regrets or tomorrow’s fears.
Session 4.3: Creating Internal Good Weather
Advanced, Level 3 stress managers choose to view their trials differently than most people. They develop attitudes and beliefs that allow them to rise above their trials and still maintain happiness. The Good Weather Factor enables them to experience internal sunshine during the darkest and fiercest of life’s emotional storms. In this session, you will learn about this powerful Stress-Reducing Belief by:
- Hearing a surprising discovery about what makes people happy.
- Noting the maxim regarding happiness that Abraham Lincoln lived by, that now has been validated by clinical research.
- Learning about a seminal research study that revealed the relationship between stressful life events and illness, and how “hardiness” can dramatically alter this relationship.
- Discovering the “Big 3” personality characteristics of “hardy” people that enable them to grow through crises rather than being emotionally disabled by them.
Session 4.4: Creating a Gratitude Zone
“I think in the final analysis that gratitude and revenge are the most important factors governing our actions in everyday life; upon them also chiefly depend our peace of mind, our feelings of security or insecurity, or fulfillment or frustration, in short, the extent to which we can make a success of life." (Dr. Hans Selye, the father of stress research)
Many stress researchers concur with Selye’s observation of the stress-reliving potential of gratitude. It’s a key attitude/belief that distinguishes advanced, Level 3 stress managers.
In this session, you will discover:
- Ancient scriptural pointers to the importance of gratitude in defusing stress and contributing toward success in life.
- The critical distinction between life goals and expectations, and why goals and expectations have opposite stress effects.
- How much negative stress in life circumstances and relationships is created by an incorrect balance between goals and expectations.
- How to create a Gratitude Zone that will work wonders in relieving and preventing harmful stress while creating healthy stress.
- How to apply the principle of the Gratitude Zone in every aspect of your life and relationships.
Session 4.5: Placing Problems in Perspective
While it may seem trite to say, “Well, it could be a lot worse” during a stress experience, the fact is that Level 3 stress management is about just that: learning to put our stressors into proper perspective. When less trained people attempt to do this and fail, it’s usually because their perceived “worst-case” scenario undershoots the mark.
In this session you will learn how to better put problems in their proper perspective by:
- Using the same method to find proper perspective that is used by other advanced stress managers.
- Studying the experiences of others who have put their problems into perspective.
- Experimenting with this belief yourself.
Session 4.6: Finding Meaning in Suffering
"There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions, as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one's life.” (Victor Frankl, Jewish psychiatrist who survived three years as a POW at Auschwitz)
Every stressful situation has meaning. Seek to understand the meaning, and you help alleviate the stress. In this session we will explore this timeless truth through:
- An ancient scripture that has provided meaning and support for millions who have encountered otherwise hopeless situations.
- Stories from researchers and our own that illustrate the point.
Session 4.7: Yielding Rights; Forgiving; Golden Ruling
This session (4.7) covers the last three most powerful Stress-Reducing Beliefs in our list of the big 10. The first of these can be a hard one to accept because it’s counter-cultural in this modern age. But violating it consistently results in much unnecessary interpersonal conflict and stress, while applying it consistently opens up new opportunities for gratitude and joy.
In this session we will learn:
- Why most so-called personal “rights” that people defend at all costs are in reality Stress-Inducing-Beliefs that would be better challenged and replaced.
- The 3 steps to take to yield personal rights.
- Why it is important to distinguish personal rights and personal responsibilities, and why we should strive to yield the former but honor the latter.
- Why forgiveness and the Golden Rule are not only significant relationship principles, but are major stress-absorbers as well.
Session 4.8: An Ancient Story of Stress Management
To summarize the Stress: Beyond Coping eLearning course, this final session tells the ancient story of one man who faced some of the most extreme stressors possible with great success. And the records show that his life was guided by all ten of the most powerful Stress-Reducing Beliefs. This story will inspire and challenge you to face your stressful circumstances with the positivity and perseverance that this man did.
The session ends by providing a brief Stress Action Plan, which outlines a proactive strategy for handling stressful situations as they arise, based on the principles presented over this entire eLearning course.