Stress-Aikido: Turn Stress into Your Friend

by Detlef Beeker
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A friend of mine is doing Aikido. One day Charles said to me, "Hey, Detlef, hit me!" You know, I'm more of a peaceful fellow and I don't box friends just like that. He wouldn't let up: "Hit me! I know Aikido, nothing happens to me - really!" So I hit him - I tried to at least. Before I knew it, I was on my nose. I groaned. Charles grinned at me: "Aikido uses the energy of your attack for defense."

What would you say if I introduced you to a technique that uses exactly this principle? When you are under stress, a lot of energy is released. Why? Because our bodies prepare to flight, fight or freeze. This is called stress reaction. We can use this energy with the "Flipping the Switch!"

The idea behind this technique is illustrated by the following quote:

"It is the lens through which our brain sees the world that shapes our reality."
Shawn Achor

Our point of view or our mindset is decisive in how we handle a situation. If we see a problem as a problem, then it is one. If, on the other hand, we see it as a challenge, we deal with it differently.

Benjamin works in a management consultancy. It was Friday evening and he was about to go home when his boss came in: "Ben, I'm sorry, we got another job. It's an emergency. Can you make it to tomorrow?". With these words, the boss loaded a stack of papers onto Ben's desk. Ben said: "Wow! This will be a challenge! Give me that!" Then a smile spread on his face and he got to work.

Needless to say, Ben never suffered from stress. He simply declared everything to be a challenge and set to work. There is something very powerful about interpreting a supposedly negative event as a challenge or an opportunity. In NLP this is called refraiming.

The "Flipping the Switch!" technique channels the stress energy into something positive. It is an enormously effective technique for transforming a situation. It transforms stress into energy and strength.[1]

Flipping the Switch![1]

Goal: Converting stress into strength and energy

Technique:

  1. Accept that there is a problem: Acknowledge the reality that there is a problem. Say to yourself, "Okay, I have a problem, but I'm going to use this problem to get stronger!" We like to deny our problems until they become so strong that they can no longer be denied. That's why you accept that there is a problem as early as possible. Be it that you are overwhelmed by work or that the household with two children is too much.
  2. Ask yourself the question: How can I use this stress or situation to improve my circumstances and make myself stronger - today, this minute, this second?
  3. How does it feel? Pay attention to what it feels like when you decide to flip the switch: Toggling the switch is a reframing of the situation. This is a term from the NLP. They reinterpret the situation positively. You will feel more energetic and motivated. Hope and optimism will grow. That gives you more confidence. You'll be able to think clearer.

How often? How long? Whenever a stressful situation arises, you can flip the switch. This can be once a week or once every ten seconds.

Tips & Tricks

  • The switch is always there: Be aware that the switch is always there. You can kill him any time you want. The switch is a new perspective that gives you strength and sees the stress situation as a challenge.
  • How can we develop a positive view? Stress is not only negative, no, it has advantages. Stress gives us strength and energy. We can use these. In my university days I was such a candidate who did everything at the last minute. I left the housework for weeks until I started two days before the deadline. Of course, I was under pressure - it was stressful. Without this pressure, however, I would not have been able to complete the work.

    Besides, stress is a signal that there is a problem. No matter if it is a problem of our thoughts or a real one. Stress is like a wake-up call. It is forcing us to develop new skills to deal with the situation better. Our emotional intelligence will increase. Isn't that great?
  • You do not always have to perform all steps: The second step is the decisive one! Ask yourself the " switch flipping question ". If you don't have much time or work with the technique very often, just take the second step - that's enough! The core is that you see the situation differently and ask yourself how you can flip the switch.

The technique is simple, yet extremely effective. Try it out.

1] Moore (2017): The Resiliance Breakthrough: 27 Tools for Turning Aversity into Action.

 

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