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Second Hand Stress

Second Hand Stress

When someone has an anger problem, it’s viewed as socially inacceptable. Perhaps counseling is in order.

The same goes for someone that is obese, struggling with substances, smoking or nail biting. Each is a symptom of an emotionally based habit stemming from an imbalance.

Habits are choices, no matter the circumstances. We choose to indulge them or not. Sometimes we foster them to the extent that they define us.

There is always a moment where we choose to go through that door. We know we shouldn’t, but we do. The reasons vary, but the process and results are basically the same.

Of all the bad habits that tend to infiltrate our lives, stress seems to be the most pervasive and socially acceptable. We all understand how irrational the indulgence of stress is; yet we it continues to creep into our lives. Consequently, it’s often more comfortable for everyone involved to just keep quiet, or at best, try and sympathize.

But when your stress spills out of you, it affects relationships and potential outcomes. It palpably alters the environment around you and often manifests our deepest fears.

But it’s merely a pathway in the mind, amongst many other more positive paths to travel.

You already know stress causes physical, psychological and emotional damage, so I’ll skip that bit. My focus here is about what it does to those around us.

Stress is a negative emotion we feel about the circumstances in our lives that prompts us to attempt to predict an outcome. The negative, fearful emotion is real. But it is a choice to dwell within it or not. Just like contempt, jealousy, pride or envy.

Indulging in your stress is like turning on a Soap Opera. You know what you’re getting into. You see the long hallway ahead of you and you choose to walk down it anyway.

Much like second hand smoke, stress not only harms your body, it also harms those around you, sometimes even more. There are often a lot of innocent bystanders.

When you’re stressed, you force those around you to join you and act accordingly, or risk alienating you by letting you know it’s petty and destructive. Most people know better than to interfere. That’s dangerous relationship territory.

When stress is radiating from you, you become the snake that no one wants to touch. It’s easier to appease a stressed person than to try and alter their way of thinking. Most people will choose to avoid interaction with the snake and avoid confrontation altogether.

When was the last time you said, “Man, I’m really glad I was so stressed about that, it really paid off”? Has indulging in your stress ever produced a positive result?

There is a profound difference between being hyper aware or intense and choosing to allow stress to prevail. Awareness is healthy. Intensity can be channeled into positive progress. I can certainly attest to that. But choose your battles. Utilize your time and channel your energy wisely.

The same energy that can manifest itself as stress can be channeled into healthy awareness, ambition and determination. It’s a discipline.

Gandhi famously posited, “Be the change you want to see”. Think about how your stress hurts those around you and works to manifest your fears.

What could happen if you disciplined yourself to channel that energy and emotion into a positive path instead? Think of how you could bless others with your perspective, rather than plague them with your stress.

Just think of your stress as the equivalent of blowing cigarette smoke directly into the faces of those around you.

Stress isn’t something you can hold privately for long. Stress is incapable of producing a positive outcome. It permeates the air around you and hurts those closest to you.

Think of what could happen if you channeled that energy into helping you achieve your goals and dreams. Think of how stress affects your relationships.

It’s a choice. And it’s part of your story. Fortunately, you can start a new chapter….now. {Yet another choice.}


  1. Joanne Miller on November 9, 2014 at 5:15 PM

    I agree totally Jared. Stress definitely affects the people around us and some people even get addicted to stress! I am not sure I can separate “Intensity” from stress and would like to hear you elaborate on that a bit more. I think we can be so “intense” that it tunes out the world around us and creates it’s own stress……and certainly can be just as harmful. I like your analogy to the second hand smoke. It has taken me a lot of years to recognize how harmful stress can be to my body and to my emotional well-being. Finding ways to “unwind” and lose myself in art has helped me tremendously!

  2. Ashley Logsdon on November 12, 2014 at 1:50 AM

    Yep, I agree – it’s as potent as second-hand smoke and as debilitating as any other negative addiction. And negative energy is suffocating in a room. It definitely sabotages relationships and causes distance, as you are correct – it’s better to avoid the snake than to confront it and not know when it will strike. Which…it’ll always strike, because stress is like a boiling kettle – it’s either going to spill over with scalding water on everything around it, or it will dry up all the water and simply burst into flames. Either way, relationships and people will be burned in the process.

    Intensity is powerful and can be amazing – yet when you pair it with underlying stress or anger it can be lethal to relationships. I agree with Mom in wanting to hear a little more about intensity – you need a post on that specifically. I feel you with being intense, but I also see the root word of tension in there – being so tightly wound that an explosion is bound to occur, and has the power to be pretty um, intensely destructive (pardon the pun).

    One of the most powerful things Nathan told me once was “what’s your goal?” I’m loving Danielle Laporte’s book “Fire Starter Sessions” and she talks about having your goals be based on the feelings/emotions you want to experience. No one says they want to feel stressed. So why do we allow for that in our daily lives? What is our goal in every human interaction? Great post and reminder that stress is never something people get excited about experiencing.

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