It’s about what psychologists call ‘benefit finding’

Last time we explored what psychologist Brad Bushman discussed in his paper, “Does venting anger feed or extinguish the flame?” and discovered that, contrary to popular myth and the want of many anger management classes, venting anger often makes the situation worse.

This is a shorter post this week so that you can put this first part to good use. Over the coming weeks I’ll identify other techniques that work in bringing stress relief. What is the first one?

It’s about what psychologists call ‘benefit finding’. It makes a presupposition that there will be benefit to find and I’m sure that in some circumstances that can be more challenging than in others! Nevertheless, this technique does work. How do we use it for our advantage?

Steps to ‘benefit finding’

  1. Identify the stress
  2. Identify the learning that you’ve gained from it
  3. Identify possible barriers to overcoming the stress and what your possible steps might be to overcome them (See Doublethink post)

1. Identify the stress

Think about a situation that has caused you stress

2. Identify the learning that you’ve gained from it

  1. Focus on the impacts of the stressful situation that have yielded you  e.g.
    What have you learnt in terms of your personal strength?
    What have you discovered in terms of the support of those around you?
    In what ways have you become more wise as a result of the experience?
    What have you learnt that you won’t say or do next time?
    How did the event make you more forgiving, patient, willing to listen more?
    How has the event strengthened your relationship with the one you felt hurt by?
    If this same event were to arise again what would you do differently next time to get a better outcome for everyone?
    How has this made you more confident and more willing to address stressful situations differently next time?
    And many more questions that show how you’ve learnt from the situation

3. Identify possible barriers to overcoming the stress and what your possible steps might be  to overcome them

  1. What possible barriers to dealing with the stress can you identify to overcome?
    How would you overcome them? What steps would you take?
    What might happen if you did those steps?
    What might you hear yourself and others saying and doing differently next time?
    If ‘another you’ were watching you what advice would ‘another you’ give you? (This takes some practise to do.)

Focussing on the stress can make the stress get bigger. This technique is all about identifying what you’ve learnt: the ’benefits’, how you would overcome barriers and what you would notice being different in the future.

I’d love to know how this works for you. Please do let me know via the comments section below.

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