RELATIONAL TRIUMPH
Solving Relational Stress
and Building Relational Success
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Gerry Goertzen
Author of

Relational Triumph

Life is stressful. That’s inevitable. It’s a factor of the human condition. All of us face it, and the human spirit looks for opportunities to regain a sense of balance and wholeness in ways that remove or at lease calm the fret and worry. Concerns seem to pile up more quickly than we can find solutions. So we turn our attention to something, or perhaps many things, that will hopefully work a miracle in our sad or tired soul. Some stress-busting strategies work in healthy ways, but others fail to calm the human spirit. Yet the pursuit of relief is inevitable. So, what is it that you turn to? Does it work? Does it give you a lasting and meaningful sense of solace, or is it merely temporary?

Not all stress is bad. In fact, we need some stress to motivate us, to inspire us, and to simply keep us aware. Even when exciting things happen, such as a wage increase, a vacation, or the renewal of an old friendship, we can experience symptoms of stress. These positive experiences generate a feeling known as eustress (meaning “well” or “good”) and cause a chemical release in our body similar to when distress occurs. The founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts says, “Both [eustress and distress] can be equally taxing on the body, and arecumulative in nature,

 

depending on a person’s way of adapting to a changethat has caused it. The body itself cannot physically discern between distress and eustress.”

On occasion, when things heat up in a hurry, we experience the fight-or flight response. If properly acted on, this reaction to sudden stress can be extremely helpful.

For example, if you encounter a bear in the woods, your body will undergo an instantaneous flood of chemicals that boost your energy and alertness so that hopefully you can outrun or outsmart the bear. Anytime something is a threat to us, we have this onboard mechanism to help us survive. So we need to keep in mind that a stress response is natural and, in many situations, positive. We need it. It can help keep us alive. And the more we are aware of its purpose, the better we can manage our way out of the trouble or crisis.

Just the thought of going home to face her parents’ rage caused Sandy to panic. She longed to be accepted and supported, but was fully expecting to be shamed and rejected. She was overwhelmed by fear. Her heart was pounding, and she felt faint and had to be taken to the hospital. Her
panic response was triggered by a need to survive in the midst of dread, and it literally brought her to the hospital where she would receive care and support.

Sandy’s situation illustrates the point that when a person’s sense of wellbeing is at risk, they will often respond in

ways meant to provide a sense of security and belonging. The particular response may be understandable but not always beneficial. In many cases it’s a reaction far more intense than what the situation deserved.

The condition of our most significant relationships will infl uence how we cope with stress. When we feel fulfilled and lavished with love, we are more likely to respond to stress in a moderate or composed way. But when feeling empty, deprived of love, or worse, discarded, we will react in self-protective ways designed to defend our longing for security and signifi cance. It’s important to understand that the substance of our relationships will either promote or obstruct the fulfillment of these needs.

The state of your relationship is like a barometer giving you information
about the degree to which your need for safety and belonging is being met. I often see people whose relationship quotient is low, and they are trying to gain a sense of wholeness in the pursuit of another glass of alcohol, a new wardrobe, the accumulation of money, an ultimate vacation, and so on. However, those experiences are a poor substitution, unable to fill one’s heart like a relationship does. It just doesn’t work that way. Simply put, as much as I like my lawn tractor, the likelihood of it truly validating my most important needs is pretty much nil. I need people, and so do you. But since people also bring stress into our lives, we need to learn how to manage the stress (not the people) so that it doesn’t manage us.

Relational Triumph
Our Most Important Needs

Chapter 2, pg. 9 - 12

 

 

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Producer and Owner of
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Director, Counsellor, Owner of
Riverbend Counselling & Wellness
 
Founder of
The Harbour
a weekly recovery group
 
 
Contact: Gerry Goertzen gerry@riverbendcounselling.ca
 
Gerry's wife Dayle Goertzen is the owner and designer for the one-of-a-kind jewellry displayed on this website.