How do you respond to stress?
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 Dai Pritchard

 Dr. Bridget Kirsop
 Dr. Jo Johnston
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 Hayley Marie Davies
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"One thing is clear- we do these responses for a purpose and by reading this article you may discover your purpose for doing them and be able to evaluate how useful the response is. 
 
After all, we do have choices and whatever you choose is OK as long as it is a conscious choice." 

 
This is another opportunity to reflect on what you are doing and the results that you are getting from your reactions. In the article called Immediate Response I talk about the importance of reflection and how this helps you to deal with the emotional overload that you may be feeling right now.
 
We all respond differently to stress and we can show different responses at different times.
So perhaps, in this time of discovery, it would be useful to you to understand the categories of response to stress that you may be doing? These are categories and roles that have been defined by Virginia Satir. She was an American author and psychotherapist who worked with families and relationships.
 
One thing is clear: we show these responses for a purpose and, by reading this article, you may discover your purpose for displaying them and be able to evaluate how useful the response is. After all, we do have choices and whatever you choose is OK as long as it is a conscious choice. 
 
If we make that choice then we are in charge of our reality and our world. If we don’t make the choice then we are at the mercy of the world and people around us.
 
1. The Blamer
It’s all someone else’s fault. Blamers are usually aggressive. 
 
A Blamer finds fault in others. She thinks that she is superior to everybody else and that others have to obey her. A Blamer is a dictator. In reality, a Blamer often does not feel good about herself. This role makes her feel better because it often gets people to obey her. When people obey, she feels good and effective which temporarily helps her feelings of vulnerability following The Discovery. You can see how this feels by standing in an aggressive stance and really blaming everyone for everything for a minute. Notice how your body looks, sounds and feels and ask yourself whether it is healthy to be a blamer. You could choose to take responsibility for yourself and how you are right now, couldn’t you? 
 
2. The Placater
This person takes all of the guilt on themselves hoping that way to excite, pity or keep the peace.
 
A Placater talks in a way that is pleasing to the other person. She does not disagree, does not stand up for herself and apologises for things that are not her fault. The recipient is happy at the moment but, later on, resentment can brew. Have you experienced this yourself? Sometimes the purpose of The Placater is to keep themself safe, both physically and emotionally. If you feel as though you may be taking on The Placater role or see or hear yourself doing it then take a step back and really notice how it feels. Get a sense of yourself and who you are as a person and notice whether taking on this role represents who you are and who you want to be. Then choose what to do about it.
 
3. The Computer
The Computer distances themselves from the problem, appears detached and uses long words to analyse the problem in some theoretical way.
 
This role is unfortunately often thought of as the ideal goal for many people who are in a stressful situation. A Computer is very correct, very reasonable and very logical. She does not show any feeling of vulnerability though she often feels it. She is detached. Sometimes people take this role to avoid showing their feelings which is another form of protection. It makes it difficult for people to interact with them aswell as they won’t feel understood. Do you catch yourself doing this? So what is the purpose of you doing it? What does it get you? Do you want to continue doing it?
 
4. The Distracter
The Distracter cracks a joke and suggests everyone goes down the pub. She also flips from one of the above roles to another so that no one can pin her down.
 
A Distracter talks about unrelated subjects while under stress. She does not keep to the point and is very unfocused . "Who cares” is the attitude. She is hoping that by doing this the problem will go away. If she takes this role for a while the feelings of loneliness and lack of purpose often emerge. Though it seems that nothing bothers her it is actually a lonely and meaningless place to be. Is this something that you do?
 
5. The Leveller
The Leveller sees what is going on, accepts the emotional content of a situation and deals with it. She can create upset by “telling it like it is.”
 
A Leveller responds to situations congruently. Her body, voice and facial expressions are all of a match. The relationship feels easy, free and honest. A Leveller apologises when she makes a mistake. If an error has been committed she will evaluate fairly without blaming. Sometimes she will be talking intellectually as when she is lecturing or explaining something but her feeling is still intact. There is no machine-like feeling when dealing with this person. When there is a problem, she will deal appropriately rather than shoving it under the rug. A Leveller conducts life with integrity, commitment and creativity. She is able to work out problems in a real way. Virginia Satir found that when people start to level they found their hearts, feelings, bodies and brains. As a result they found their souls and humanity. 
 
How great would that be?
So, can you relate any of these to yourself? 
Which do you do most?
What is the purpose of doing that role?
What choices are you now going to make having read this article?
 
This would be a good time to write the roles you play down in your journal and reflect daily on what you are doing.
 
Have fun! You are learning more and more about yourself and also about others - it will be very useful!

 

 
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