You don't need me to tell you how stressful life can be. You experience stressful situations while attempting to navigate new relationships and learn new routines at home and work. It helps to understand how to reduce stress in the four stages of becoming competent as change your life by learning anything new. Let's look at the stress you experience as you learn to drive a car.
In the beginning, you know nothing about driving. However, you don't feel any stress because you don't realize you don't know. This first stage is called unconscious incompetence.
When you become aware that you don't know how to drive, and you need to learn, stress begins to increase. Conscious incompetence is the increasingly uncomfortable stage as you realize you need to drive, but can't.
When you get behind the wheel for your first driving lesson, stress can skyrocket. You know you're incompetent, you need to learn how to improve your driving and reduce your stress, but you have little or no control over the car. In fact, some people feel overwhelmed to the point of being paralyzed, they're afraid to take any steps at all.
You don't need to despair, however. You're now moving into conscious competence, the third stage. Since you don't yet know how to drive, you trust the driving instructor as he gives you directions on how to improve your skills. You'll slowly reduce stress as your driving lessons continue, your overall stress levels will begin to drop.
As you continue practicing, you become more and more competent, and driving no longer takes intense concentration. Beware, the conscious competence stage can be dangerous when you realize learning to drive no longer needs your full attention. I remember trying to turn on the radio and very nearly having an accident when I ignored the basic instructions and took my eyes off the road and a hand off the wheel!
Finally you reach the stage of unconscious competence where driving a car is no longer stressful. You can arrive back from work, and realize you don't remember the drive home.
Any learning situation in your life can arouse feelings of stress. Once you understand that stress is a normal part of any new capability, you know to not feel anxious about your lack of control. Changing what you know about reducing stress allows you to more effectively learn new skills and concepts, which is an essential step in learning how to change your life.
Food for Thought
I control my thoughts, my emotions, and my actions. And I direct them to drastically and easily improve the quality of my health, my relationships, my work and my life.
Terry Orlick, PhD, author of "In Pursuit of Excellence"
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