One thing common to all people, ‘normal’ people and those we think of as having ‘problems’, is our ability to deal with stress and the accompanying emotions. I want you to think of your stress and your emotions as if you were in a glass. As you visualize your glass as “normal” (of course it is!), The glass will appear to be 60% full. On any given day when you find yourself stressed, this glass can be filled up to 80%, 90%, and even 99% with stress and emotions. Think about what happens when you get even more stressed. Like that last drop of liquid that makes the glass overflow, your emotions are now overflowing! Now consider a person who has “problems” and what their glass looks like. Your tumbler can run constantly at 80%, 90% or 95% of its capacity. What does that mean? It means that very little is needed to turn the glass over and make a ‘troubled’ person react to stressful situations. And the reason they seem to have a “problem” in the first place is that they tend to react much faster than you or I could.
I would like to share with you an investigation that validates its origin. The CIA and intelligence gathering agencies in many other countries rely on people’s emotions to reveal them when questioned. For example, when a person is questioned, what environment do you usually think they are in? Usually in solitude, with people who seem threatening and intimidating, they have a severe expression on their face and a threatening tone in their voice. Weapons and torture devices may be on display. The person questioned may have been deprived of food, water, and sleep. Loud heavy metal music may have been blasting out for several days. If you look at this person’s glass, at what level do you think their emotions would be? Right at the top! If you just add one more drop of emotions, it will overflow. So interrogators know that when they ask questions, this person will reveal answers through bodily communication that they cannot now hide. Why? Because the mind cannot contain more emotion and the body should relieve mental stress through physical actions. It could be a movement of the eye, a jerk of the arm, or a sudden movement at the right time. Once interrogators receive an initial signal that they are close to getting the information they want, they vigorously follow that path until they get it. The person only returns to normal emotional function when the stress is removed.
How does this translate into day-to-day life for you and me? First, I want to share with you that I believe that people are good by nature. They may have bad behaviors, but there is good intention behind the bad behaviors. What does that mean? It means that I believe that people have ‘bad’ behavior because their ‘glass’ is continually at the tipping point and therefore it takes very little for their emotions to take over and create behaviors that seem out of place. , inappropriate. , or just “bad”.
Let’s put this in the context of work. Let’s say you have an employee who is underperforming and has not been able to find a solution. You spent money on training, trained them, and gave them incentives, but nothing works. What you notice is that every time this person is going to do a job that is critical to their job, they start doing a busy job, make up an excuse to leave, and blame other people for why they can’t perform, or a variety other acts to divert your attention from what the real reason is that they are not working well. These actions are no different from a person being questioned being unable to stop that eye movement or other physical movements to relieve stress. They are acting as external signals of internal emotion processing. It can be due to a variety of reasons why they feel stressed at work, but it is evidence that their glass is 90% full or more and they have a need to release their emotions. Stressors need to be eliminated so they can get back to normal.
How about at home? When a person has people they love, studies have shown that they will face death and survive for others when they would have given up if the situation only involved them. However, why do people who come home to their loved ones after a long day at work and start yelling at them for what can be very inconsequential? Why would they verbally, mentally and even physically abuse their loved ones? In reality, they are not acting against the people they love; they are acting out all the rest of the stress that they have allowed to accumulate on them. Again, these people are running between 90% and 99.9% of their emotional capacity. They feel as if they are alone, a bright, hot light is shown directly to them, they feel threatened, and the ‘music’ in their head is playing loud, loud and constantly over and over again. The child who got a bad grade, the one who broke a lamp, the wife who damaged the car; and the husband who lost his job are just the drop of water that makes the glass spill. They are not bad people. The stressors just need to be eliminated so they can let their guard down and get back to normal.
How can you de-stress so that people can get back to “normal”? That’s a great question! Have hope! People find a unique path every day!