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Imagine a farmer holding his hat in hand, wiping his brow and saying, "I'm really stressed out!" It's hard to imagine, since life was so different then. This is not to say that lives of people in those days were easy, far from it, but it was a very different kind of life from what we live today. For example, you probably know someone who thinks he's funny, and he is sometimes, but most people just find him annoying. People have tried to tell him, but he doesn't listen. He's still convinced he's funny. Or you know someone who believes that he is respected in his business, but in fact, he is feared and not respected at all. doesn't seem to know the difference. And it is likely that you know someone who believes that her weight gain is because of her metabolism. doesn't seem to understand that her weight gain is because of her excessive overeating habits. Everyone knows but her. My wife clearly does not have ADD, but like Ralph, she used to freeze if you said "computer". Now she loves it. But she also hates it. She sends and receives lots of e-mails. She can Google and navigate web sites. She can use Word. But she seems to think that computers should work well. So when anything doesn't work well, which is often, she calls me in frustration. Since it's her computer that's not working, she thinks the problem is the computer and that she needs to get a new one. That's kind of like if your car doesn't move when you step on the gas, then there must be something wrong with the gas pedal.

She understands that better now. So now she thinks the problem is Comcast. She may be correct. She no longer freezes with the word "computer," only if there is a problem. Like Ralph, she has made a lot of progress. This gentleman worried constantly about whether he did enough to prevent harm to others. "I should have told John that romaine lettuce from Arizona was recalled when he ordered a salad with romaine lettuce in it. What if he ate that bad lettuce, and I could have prevented it?" Sadly, such thoughts would keep him up ruminating instead of sleeping: "I shouldn't have told Barbara that Jody was flirting with Bob at the office. What if she thinks he's having an affair and they end up getting a divorce because of me? I better fix this by telling her tomorrow that Bob was not interested in Jody. But what if she doesn't believe me?" What if this, and what if that? How to control all these "what ifs" preoccupied him and disrupted his sleep. This overwhelming perfectionistic demand to control the fate of others, and the inevitable failure to meet it, kept him in a needless, suspended, painful state of guilt. When you complete the exercise, do not ask yourself how stressed or anxious you feel. You will tend to underestimate your stress level, since most people do not like to admit that they are stressed or anxious until they are already at a 7 or 8. Instead, use the behavioral descriptions above. It doesn't matter if you feel like you are at a 6, 7, 8, etc. If the behaviors of that level more or less describe your current behavior, assume that it is the actual level of your emotional temperature. A big part of this exercise is recalibrating your internal sense of stress to stop underestimating your anxiety level. If you feel in between two stages on the emotional temperature scale, it is always better to assume that that higher number more accurately represents your level of stress and anxiety.

Two hundred years ago, our ancestors didn't have the modern conveniences we have now, nor did they have the advances in transportation, communication, and technology. They worked hard from sunrise to sunset. Their labor was physical, and their worries related to their crops, the land, and dealing with the elements. The roles of men and women were clearly defined, and the options available to them were limited. They didn't have to figure out what career they wanted to choose, or where they wanted to live. There weren't huge controversies about what they should eat, why they were fat, what their cholesterol count happened to be, or how much fiber, or sugar they should consume. Chemicals and their effect on health were not part of their daily conversations. They weren't confronted with a wide variety of cars from which to choose, or the latest technology to use, or the option to travel anywhere in the world in mindboggling units of time. They didn't have to deal with the stress of relocating, nor were they weren't burdened with the threats of nuclear war, AIDS, or cancer. Life was by no means easy, but the pressures, concerns, and alternatives were fundamentally different from what we experience today. Their concerns were more immediate; our type of "stress" did not exist. Perhaps it is time to apply Silicon Valley-style research and innovation to ourselves. The first step to becoming self-aware is through self-study. A common term for self-study is self-reflection, implying that we are looking at an inner mirror, so to speak, and seeing ourselves in the mirror, we make adjustments. In this way, we become our own mentors on the path of life. To quote Lao Tzu, the renowned Taoist philosopher, "At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want." This is the goal of self-study. Some of us excel due to our parents' influence. of us excel in spite of our parents' influence. But for most of us, it is a combination of both: We excel partly due to our parents and also by working against the negative habits or thought patterns they ingrained in us. My wife's real issue is with math.

She's quite bright, but she's convinced that she can't do anything that has to do with math. Her brain freezes. This is partly a learning disability, but it is partly just her belief that she can't do it, as it is with Ralph with computers. If you could convince her that it was a puzzle, or grammar, or maybe even arithmetic, probably she could do it, as long as she didn't realize that it was math. It isn't clear how much brain freeze is related to ADD; some people without ADD can get it. In those cases it seems to be because of self-perception - " I can't do math" - and thus anxiety and thus self fulfilling prophecy. But it is probably more common with ADD, and then those same factors - perception, anxiety and prophecy - make it worse. Rate your Current Temperature (Use the behavioral descriptions, not your subjective sense of your stress level. If between two points, choose the higher). What was the highest level of stress/anxiety you have felt since the last time you checked your temperature? What situation or event triggered this spike in your emotional temperature? What was the lowest level of stress/anxiety you have felt since the last time you checked your temperature? Baggage from growing up in a dysfunctional home including, feeling disconnected from real feelings, being out of touch with personal wants, fear of making mistakes, fear of taking risks and being abandoned. Is it any wonder that we feel stressed? Stress is strain or force that taxes the system to such a degree that it begins to break down. In the human system, this means physiological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, or spiritual tension greater that the person can manage. In effective self-management, you need to attend to the various aspects of the "self." You need to take a self-inventory to ensure that all the different parts of you are in good working order. The study of your own personality and inherent tendencies is crucial for finding and transforming thought patterns that I call our inner terrorist. Our inner terrorist is the part of us that tends to sabotage our best intentions, our relationships, and our career--anything that we allow it to have its way with. In some cases, this phenomenon is caused from fear of failure; in other cases it is caused by fear of success.

Either way, the inner terrorist must be recognized for what it is, and we must work to tame this demon. In some people, it is the inner terrorist that drives them to worldly success, because the voice of their terrorist fiercely pushes them to excel by dominating others. In this case, the inner terrorist torments other people too. This is one of the most difficult syndromes to change, because if a person has achieved great power, prestige, or wealth by being selfish, cruel, and ruthless, then healing the inner terrorist threatens that person's position in life. For a person in this situation to ardently want to change would most likely require either a monumental epiphany from something like a near-death event or a great tragedy to motivate them to seek a new way of being. What situation or event attended this relatively more peaceful moment? Since each person is unique, the degree of stress that each of us can handle is different. Where one person thrives on stress, another buckles at the thought of it. The process of managing stress is an individual concern. The problem, of course, is that most of us were never educated about stress, how notice the warning signals before it becomes an issue, how to monitor it when it becomes a concern, and how to manage it when it has dominated and become out of control. Being creatures of habit, we gravitate to what we know to what is familiar. Our copying mechanisms are for the most part without thought, scrutiny, or conscious choice. Plan: Identify one small thing you will commit to doing (whether or not you feel like it at this moment) that may allow you to make more meaningful connections with the people around you, experience God's presence in a more meaningful way, enjoy your life a little more, and/or allow yourself to adopt a calmer pace to your day. Brain freeze is related to anxiety, which is certainly increased by ADD. If you're caught in brain freeze, the best thing to do is to take a break, because if you don't, you're not going anywhere. You may be able to become aware of your perception about the situation and to question the validity of it or to counter the negative self-talk. "I must make sure others don't talk trash about me!" was the mantra of this young male business executive obsessed with controlling his image. He constantly tried to feed others information about himself that placed him in a positive light, and he was preoccupied with preventing them from finding out anything about him that might change their minds. For example, his former girlfriend had posted a photo of him on Facebook in which he was drunk, wearing a pair of women's bikini underwear on his head. "I was just kidding around when my former girlfriend took that pic," he said to a group of prospective clients, not knowing if any of them either saw or even cared about the photo.