Stress Management: "The Turn of the Tide"
Worry arises when we start to let doubts creep in about what could happen to us if things should go wrong in trying to reach our goals. Some people use a simple technique at the first sign of worry by switching on an imaginary "Cancel" button in their heads. Others with big worries may need a more structured approach such as the following one told by Stephen Covey in "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". It is based on a story written by Arthur Gordon called "The Turn of the Tide".
Washing Away Your Worries: "The Turn of the Tide"
In "The Turn of the Tide", Arthur Gordon recalls a time when he was overcome by negativism and worry. In the end, he went to see a physician who told him to spend the following day in the place where he had been happiest as a child. Then he gave him four prescriptions in sealed envelopes, to be opened at 9, 12, 3 and 6 o'clock the next day.
Gordon duly went back to his favourite retreat beside the sea. At 9 o'clock, he opened the first prescription. It read: "Listen carefully." Gordon sat back and did as instructed. For the rest of the morning he tuned in to the sounds of the birds and the sea and felt a growing peace.
At noon he opened the second prescription. It read: "Try Reaching Back." Gordon thought about the meaning of this phrase and allowed the many memories of his past to come flooding back to him. Reaching back, he recalled times of happiness, achievement and fulfilment.
When 3 o'clock came, he opened prescription number three and read: "Examine Your Motives". Gordon thought of the work he was engaged on at present. Slowly it dawned on him that all his present endeavours were aimed at satisfying his own needs. He changed his thoughts and motives so that they were aimed at satisfying the needs of others.
Finally, at 6 o'clock, Gordon opened the last prescription and read: "Write your worries in the sand." He did as instructed, writing the few remaining worries he had and turned homeward, knowing that the lapping waves would soon wash all his worries away.
(Re-printed with permission)
Lessons for Stress Management from "The Turn of the Tide"
Here are 6 lessons from the story of Arthur Gordon and "The Turn of the Tide" that can help you in your own stress management:
• turn worrying thoughts inside out. Instead of thinking about the worst that could happen, think about the best that could happen. Worry in positives.
• keep so busy that you have no time for worrying
• live in daytight compartments where you can take one step at a time
• don't let a small niggle or failure cloud the rest of what you've achieved.
• don't over-react to worries. The chances are that what you fear won't happen anyway.
• write your worries in the sand and let the tide carry them away. Then forget them.