Eustress vs Distress is rooted in your ability or inability to adapt to a changing environment. Wisdom is learning how to stabilize your perceptions so you can take command of your life – and mental health or well-being.
There are two forms of stress and they play a pivotal role in your mental health.
Distress #1: The fear of loss of that which you seek
In all likelihood, you have had moments in your life where you have been infatuated with an idea, opportunity or individual. In these situations, you may have felt elated or excited, and conscious of their potential upsides while unconscious of their potential downsides.
This skewed perception most likely activated a dopamine impulse in your amygdala – an impulse to strive for or seek that one-sided outcome. As a result, you may have become infatuated with the outcome and begun to fear its loss.
So, the first form of distress that you may have in your life is the perception of loss of that which you infatuate with and seek, that you assume has more positives than negatives. Which, by definition, is a fantasy (also known as ‘philia’) that the assumed outcome will have way more positives than negatives, way more gains than losses, way more advantages over disadvantages.
Think of animals hunting their prey in the wild who know that they will feel energised and satiated when they get food. As a result, they fear the loss of that prey because it will result in uncomfortable and undesirable feelings of hunger.
Distress #2: The fear of gain of that which you try to avoid
Now look at the same situation from the prey’s perspective when it sees a predator. In all likelihood, it will perceive more drawbacks than benefits, more negatives than positives, more losses than gains, and more disadvantages than advantages. It may then try to avoid the predator in order to avoid the second type of distress – the fear of gain of that which it tries to avoid.
So, the moment you have a philia (fantasy), you are likely to be unconscious of the downsides. The moment you have a phobia (fear), you are likely to be unconscious of the upsides.
What is key here is that both forms of distress – philia and phobia – result in your full consciousness or mindfulness being split in half so you only see one side of the situation. This may result in you polarizing and destabilizing your state of mind, and your resulting mental wellbeing.
Both forms of distress can be seen frequently in your own life and the lives of those around you:
- The perception of the gain of an exciting new relationship (philia);
- The fear of the loss of income (phobia);
- The fear of getting an unwanted illness (phobia);
- And so on.
Distress is the result of a polarization of perception
In every area of our life, you can experience distress as a result of the polarization of our perception. For example, when you are infatuated with somebody, you are more likely to be blind to the downsides. When you are resentful to somebody, you may be blind to the upsides.
However, when you see both sides of them and are neutral and objective, you become less likely to fear the loss of them or the gain of them. So, there is less distress because we are in a state of balance or homeostasis and become more resilient or adaptable.
A balanced perspective enhances your eustress levels
Eustress is the wellness-promoting type of stress when you embrace both the support and the challenge equally. Eustress is often called the wellness type of stress because it results in emotional wellbeing, and greater performance.
It’s been shown biologically, you grow most at the border of support and challenge. So, when you embrace both of them in a balanced manner, you are less likely to have distress and more likely to grow in certainty.
What’s interesting is that the moment you grow more certainty, you tend to make decisions instead of offloading decision-making to others, thereby taking command as a leader.
To put it another way, when you are balanced in your perspective, you have the highest probability of resilience, adaptability, leadership capacities, and an ability to take action – and I’m talking about fore-sighted pro-action here, not hind-sighted reaction.
Your mental wellbeing is also enhanced to the degree that you can see both sides of an event.
I’m certain that if you live in alignment – congruent with what you value most – you will tend to be the most objective, most resilient, most adaptable, most spontaneous, and most inspired. It’s also when you solve many of our mental health issues.
If there’s one thing I could tell any human being to do on this planet, is that it would be wise to prioritize your life on a daily basis and do the actions that are truly meaningful, inspiring, highest in priority, and highest in productivity. In doing so, you will be least likely to experience emotional distress, and emotional bipolar responses.
Depression is often the result of comparing your current reality to an unachievable fantasy of how it “should” be.
Depression is often the result of a comparison of your current reality, which is balanced, to a fantasy that you’re addicted to, that isn’t. Having an unrealistic expectation on yourself or others or the world around you to be one-sided and to have more advantages than disadvantages, you are more likely to experience feelings of depression.
As the Buddha is believed to have stated, the desire for that which is unobtainable and the desire to avoid that which is unavoidable is the source of human suffering.
Many of your possible bipolar responses and depression responses originate from your completely unrealistic expectations on the world or others or yourself to be one sided. Or for others to live in your highest values or for you to live in somebody else’s values or for the world to live in your values.
These delusions and unrealistic expectations are impossible to obtain and sustain; and can lead to depression because depression is a comparison of your current reality, which is balanced, to something that’s unrealistic or fantasized.
I have worked with many individuals who have had depression and I can tell you that their depression is largely correlated with biochemical imbalances but these imbalanced chemistries are most often a result of unrealistic expectations they have in their life and fantasies they are holding onto.
Once you have identified the fantasy, found upsides to the thing they think are depressed about and downsides to the fantasies about how they wish it would be, and neutralized them – their depression tends to dissolve on the spot.
To be clear, there are certainly some cases where you might need a medical approach, but not as the first approach.
Be cautious about losing your power and becoming dependent on medication for the rest of your life for something that you can be accountable for.
It would be wise to:
- Find the balance
Your mind is homeostatic. It is designed to bring your chemistry and the electronics in your brain back into balance to where you are not fearing the loss of things or the gain of things but instead being present with things, or events as they are.
I am certain that things are actually neutral and that there are ultimately not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ events out there until you with a limited set of criteria or with a narrowed mind choose to subjectively bias your perception and label them as either “good” or “bad”.
Once you learn to look at events from a neutral perspective, you can become more resilient and adaptable and can use those events to your greater fulfilment.
- Live according to your highest values
When you live by your highest values, you are more likely to be objective and resilient, to balance out your perspectives and not to let the world run you. You will also tend not to see bad or good, or black or white in the world, but grey.
In other words, if you perceive that there are more downsides than upsides, you will tend to go and find out the benefits and stack up the benefits until they equal the drawbacks. As a result, you will find you are more neutral and that it has no power over you.
The same happens with fantasies when you will be more likely to look for downsides until they equal the upsides. In doing so, will be less likely to live in a fantasy that is unobtainable but will instead be balanced, stable, resilient, fulfilled and inspired.
Mental wellbeing is the ability to ask questions to stabilize your perceptions and take command of your life again.
I’ve been facilitating and presenting the Demartini Method and developing it since I was 18 years old and clinically working with it for about 35 plus years.
If you ask yourself the questions outlined in the Demartini Method (and they’re simple questions) and hold yourself accountable to them, you can neutralize any emotional baggage in minutes.
I’m absolutely certain that you have the capacity to restabilize whatever perturbation you’ve experienced that has lessened your optimal state of mental wellbeing.
I have seen in each of the many thousands of cases I have individually worked with who have thoroughly answered the Demartini Method questions with accountability – immediately demonstrate physiological and psychological stability.
Click here for more information on the Demartini Method (as used in my signature program – The Breakthrough Experience).
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About Dr John Demartini:
Dr. John Demartini is a human behavior specialist, a polymath, philosopher, international speaker and published author.
He has recently been awarded the IAOTP Top Human Behavior Specialist of the Year as well as the IAOTP Lifetime Achievement Award. His work is a summation of over 299 different disciplines synthesized from the greatest minds in most fields of study today.
His extensive curriculum focuses on helping purpose driven individuals master their lives so that they are able to more extensively serve humanity with their inspired vision and mission.