Wellness Pearls

27 October 2014

Outsource Stress

Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it.
Bob Dylan

It is estimated that the average person can comfortably maintain stable relationships with 150 people  (known as Dunbars number).  It is our human cognitive limit, mostly due to the size of our brains, that the number of people with who we maintain  social contact is 150. So make sure to do a periodic audit of the people in your life and that as many of those 150 people lift your spirits instead of the other way around.  The good news is that you don’t have to be in these people’s presence to receive a positive impact.  Novel research suggests that identifying a few good people from this tribe, who just by thinking of them, help you push through hard things.

Subtle triggers from others, that we are unaware of can hugely impact the quality of our lives and our ability to cope with stress gracefully and reach goals.    Enter the concept  of mindlessness. By just imagining a person we know and admire,  we can move away from old or destructive behaviors and towards our ideal self.    Just thinking about a person who has the qualities we want and admire, outsources our self-regulation.   When we try to accomplish hard things alone, we can economize and spread the load by bringing strong role models into our minds.

I know a person who has a really challenging child.   She found herself constantly frustrated, unhappy and resentful at herself, her child and her situation. Once she decided she wanted a way out of this imprisoning pattern, every time she felt her first sign of frustration, she would channel her friend whom she thought was the ideal mother.  She began to approach her child with warmth and curiosity just as she imagined her friend doing.    Just by thinking of this ideal-mother friend, she could start to feel the shift immediately. By becoming aware of an important person in her life she wrested control of her situation by outsourced her self-discipline.  Can you use your tribe more effectively to live more fully?

1 Response

  1. Carol Vernon

    Eileen, thanks for sharing this great info and practical away of handling stress — can’t wait to put it into practice today! Carol

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