term here: PERCEPTION. Not until a person perceives a situation as threatening,
scary, harmful, etc., does the body respond automatically with the various forms
of physiological and emotional arousal which have come to be known as the stress
response (to be described in detail in our "Signs and Symptoms" section of this
If pushed to its logical extreme, this definition would imply
that nothing whatsoever is inherently stressful, but instead is a neutral
event -- not positive, not negative, but neutral. Only if we perceive it in
a certain way will we react. A pretty radical notion, yes?
We wouldn't go quite so far, however. We know what kinds
of situations are inherently stress-laden for us: one example would be anything
involving the safety or well-being of our loved ones. One's young child toddling
toward a busy street unattended is not a neutral event. Receiving a telephone
call late at night in which the first words heard are, "This is Officer Smith;
there's been an accident . . ." is not a neutral event. So we are not advocates
of the notion that all events are simply that -- events -- neutral, not inherently
What we do believe, though, is that one's perception about
their situation is an extremely powerful force which either can:
- help them
to face and cope with whatever is going on in their life, or
- make it more
difficult to deal with these same life events
words, if you're experiencing something, the way you perceive it or label
it either will help you to deal with it as best you can or will get in your
way. It's that simple. Want some examples? Then click on the button below.
issue: For those of you who have gone through this site in numeric order,
this probably sounds rather familiar. Remember the 4 generic categories of
Sustainers mentioned in "chapter 3," Stressors
and Sustainers? Well, the Woolfolk and Richardson definition is firmly
rooted in the notion that Changing Your Mind is an extremely potent component
of stress management.
on the button below to learn more about the power of perception.