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The 5 C’s of stress hardiness
  • Control – the sense of being able to influence the events in one’s life
  • Commitment – tendency to get wholeheartedly involved in a task
  • Challenge – ability to see or reframe threats and demands as challenges
  • Coherence – view that life makes sense, including ability to generate meaning from life events
  • Community – ability to find valued place in group of like-minded individuals sharing a vision





Cultivate a hardy personality
  • Focus on action, expressing your free will and being true to who you really are, to reach your highest potential
  • Practice living consciously in the present moment with mindfulness
  • Practice self-acceptance and building self-esteem
  • Practice being self-responsible for your own feelings, rather than surrendering to the whims of others
  • Practice self-assertiveness honouring your wants, needs, values, seeking appropriate ways to satisfy these
  • Practice living purposefully, getting out of hoping and wishing behaviour patterns, and doing what needs to be done to make goals happen
  • Practice personal integrity to achieve congruity in values and actions
  • Spend time relaxing every day
If you identify any of the following stress prone personality traits in yourself, try to cultivate some of thestress hardy traits to improve your stress resiliency and coping skills:
Type A behaviour
  • Rushed, hurried lifestyle
  • Perfectionistic – expect the best from others and self; never satisfied with effort, always demanding more of self and others
  • Unsatisfactory personal relationship is often due to inability to cope with needs of others
  • More prone to arousal of the stress response with a chronically elevated high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides
  • Time urgency – preoccupied / obsessed with passage of time, impatient, irritable when waiting in cues
  • Engaging in more than one thought / activity at a time – multitasking. Sensory overload. Burn-out. Exhaustion
  • Hyperaggressiveness & free floating hostility – being angry at nothing in particular, it’s just your general way of being in this world
  • Low self-esteem – you continuously have to prove that you’re good enough and better than most
  • Social influences that encourages or exacerbate type A behaviour:
    • Urban lifestyle
    • Material wealth
    • Immediate gratification
    • Competitiveness
    • People as numbers
  • Secularisation – less involved in spiritual issues, decline in self-reliance, self-esteem, sense of connectedness to others
  • Over emphasis on left brain function with over analytical, cause and effect thinking
  • Exposure to TV and movie violence

To a certain extent, we all need some Type A behaviour to survive and even thrive in today’s urban jungle! The important thing is to identify continuous type A behaviour in yourself. If you’re already a Type A, today’s lifestyle will intensify it. You have to be particularly careful to balance it. Type A behaviour and it’s strong link with a continuous stress arousal state, is the single most important risk factor for predicting heart disease, thought to be more important than the usual risk factors (genetics, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits, drinking too much alcohol) combined!

This personality type is also based on low self-esteem

Learned helplessness as described by Martin Seligman:

  • Poor self-motivation with little or no attempt at self-improvement
  • Cognitive distortion, where perceptions of failure overshadow prospects of success, leading to self-fulfilling prophecies of negative expectations
  • Emotional dysfunction where repeated failures lead to chronic depression
  • Feelings of frustration, despair or futility perceived as coming from having failed miserably from accomplishing anything in life
  • Locus of control placed externally on other people, events, luck, weather, environment, astrological state of planets, etc. Victims of circumstance. Signs of apathy and complacency. Feel helpless in stressful situations, giving up any attempt to overcome any circumstances perceived as stressful.

As opposed to internal locus of control: responsible for own actions derived from internal resources of self-confidence, values, beliefs, faith, intuition, will power – refer personal power. Information seekers, goal directed, sense of mastery to cope with problems

Extreme examples: alcoholics, drug addiction, abused children, abused wives, some of the aged and homeless. Everyone experiences periods of hopelessness and helplessness. Repeated bouts of failure could allow shades of this personality to manifest. Helpless-hopeless personality traits are considered synonymous with an ongoing stress response, increasing the risk for the stress associated diseases and health problems.

Co-dependencyBeattie; in ‘Co-dependant no more’ describes co-dependency as ‘an addiction to another person/s and their problems or to a relationship and its problems’. There are four criteria as precursors: alcoholic, divorced, or emotionally repressive parents; lifestyle or environment that is chaotic, unpredictable, or threatening. Children develop co-dependant behaviour as a survival skill usually to win approval and love from parents and other influential elders, as well as to cope with family stress on a day-to-day basis, often assuming adult responsibilities at a young age.

  • Ardent approval seekers by wearing, doing, being what they think will be right to others.
  • Perfectionists, getting caught up in details, extra time spent in getting it just right, stressed when things aren’t perfect.
  • Super overachievers, involved in multiple activities, tasks, obligations, receiving tremendous recognition, doing it all and very well.
  • Crisis managers, trying to make order out of chaos, thrive on crisis, rush to take control.
  • Devoted loyalists to friends, bosses, family, despite their often abusive or addictive behaviour.
  • Self-sacrificing martyrs who put everyone first, before their own needs, sacrificing own time, values, property, life goals
  • Manipulators through acts of generosity and favours (type A’s do it through dominance and intimidation)
  • Victims, never receiving enough gratitude or credit; can’t say ‘no’, but feel taken advantage of.
  • Feelings of inadequacy with feelings of inferiority and not being good enough, work never done well enough to their satisfaction, more is always expected. Forfeit self-reliance, ability to turn inward for sustenance, strength, faith and confidence.
  • Reactionaries who overreact rather than respond to situations.
  • Schaef listed the following traits in his book ‘Co-Dependence: Misunderstood, Mistreated’:
    • External referencing by gaining feelings of importance from external sources, doubting own intrinsic value, living up to other people’s expectations
    • Lack of emotional boundaries, taking on others’ emotional baggage, e.g. sadness, fear, happiness; whatever those around them are thinking, feeling, experiencing.
    • Impression management, trying to be good, believing they can control others’ perceptions through their own good deeds.
    • Mistrust of own perceptions.
    • Martyr syndrome, unable to distinguish between helping those in need, and living their lives for them. They often perpetuate chaotic situations by accepting responsibility for spouses, children, other family members to keep household together, rather than taking firm stand against unacceptable behaviour.
    • Lack of spiritual health, through adopting dishonest behaviour e.g. lying, to survive; often starting as ‘white’ lies to appease people. Also lie to themselves, hiding their own feelings, not true to own inner spiritual self. Form of spiritual destruction.

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