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Stress Energy Alignment – Part 3

Updated: Jan 20

Part 3 of a 3-Part Series

As we wrap up this third post in a three-part series, let’s reflect back on what’s been shared so far:

  • Post 1 described stress as something we need (it wakes us up after sleeping). It also introduced personal energy as something we have the ability to increase; this happens when we choose things aligned with why we were designed to be. The Stress & Energy Spectrum was used to visually show how stress and energy are linked and what unhealthy versions of stress/energy may look like.

  • Post 2 went deeper into two unhealthy forms of stress on either side of the spectrum. Resignation has high levels of victim-consciousness, feeling like there’s no way out. Resistance is the the constant need to control your environment, which feels like “survival mode.”

All of us will experience both these forms of stress at times and find that we’re able to manage average to healthy personal energy during those times.

It’s when we’re not actively managing ourselves through the difficult times that we may find ourselves stuck. When this happens, we experience sustained stress and low energy. We start to think it (or they) will “always be this way.” That things “will never change.”

I’m here to tell you that’s not true. You can manage your stress and personal energy even during the most challenging situations. Your circumstances don’t get to dictate your happiness (or lack thereof). There is always a way out of high stress and low energy. That’s the focus of this post.


The title of all three posts in this series is: Stress, Energy, Alignment. Post 1 went into detail on definitions for stress and personal energy, but didn’t go into detail on alignment (except for a quick story involving my chiropractor.)

So what is alignment and what does it have to do with personal stress and energy?

I couldn’t find a great dictionary definition for this term, even after checking! Instead, allow me to offer these descriptions…

Alignment is:

  1. Knowing what things you’re good at that serve a purpose greater than yourself

  2. Of those things of things you’re good at, knowing which are most personally energizing to you and why

  3. Doing more of what you’re good at, because you know it’s how you add value/serves a greater good, and you enjoy doing it

  4. Not doing too much of it, because you know that excess in anything, even good things, is bad

  5. Minimizing what you’re not good at/what drains your energy

  6. Accepting that there will be seasons where you aren’t able to spend the time you’d like on what you know you’re good at, but you know you can always learn and grow where ever you’ve been planted during that season

  7. Knowing it’s your choice to move forward – or stay stuck

  8. The feeling of true peace – joy – in knowing what you were created to do and gladly offering your talents where they can best fill a need (whether or not you’re getting paid to do so)

Put another way, if you were a 75-watt light bulb, you’d be giving off the full 75 watts of energy at any given time because you know what you were designed to do and where you could best use your talents for the greater good.

Given this definition, where would you rate your current level of personal alignment? Enter your results here or use the QR code to take the survey.

Why is all of this important? Because alignment is what keeps you within the Range of Acceptability.

Range of Acceptability

On the Stress & Energy Spectrum, the Range of Acceptability is that area where you will experience increases in stress levels and decreases in energy levels, but you don’t let it get you stuck. You are able to find ways to get back into personal alignment – to get re-aligned.

It means that when something happens that causes you stress, you may find yourself initially having thoughts like:

  1. Things like this always happen to me

  2. Nothing’s ever going to change/get better

  3. I can’t

  4. It’s all my fault/I’m all alone/I am powerless/I have no control

  5. Who made this decision anyway? This isn’t going to work!

  6. Who does she/do they think they are – I’ll show them

  7. It’s all their fault

  8. I’m right. You (or they) are wrong. End of discussion.

  9. I should do the right thing. Then again, I’m right. #Winning

In the Range of Acceptability, you still have these thoughts/feelings. It’s how you respond to them that makes the difference.

You don’t see yourself as a victim, with no options.

You don’t aggressively retaliate in order to regain control.

You don’t choose immediate gratification every time, knowing it will lead to you getting stuck.

You do take personal responsibility:

  1. You recognize that you’re uncomfortable with what just happened. You may be feeling insecure or undervalued at the moment. You may be angry or hurt. You may want answers you’re not getting. You may really, really, really want things to be back like they were. And yet you know that it can never be like it was again. Which causes more feelings.

  2. You acknowledge your feelings and grant yourself compassion.

  3. You take some time to regroup. You seek those you trust to get a new perspective. You listen.

  4. You realize you are on a tour from your original journey, but that you can still take something away from this detour.

  5. You realize that the answer isn’t “either/or.” There’s always more than one choice. The right choice may not be the easiest one, but it will be the one most in line with your personal values. It will be the one to bring you back into Alignment.

You take the next courageous step.

My Personal Experience

I’ve been stuck. On both ends of the spectrum.

During these times, I had a good idea of what I was good at and what gave me energy. I would have rated myself pretty high in personal alignment.

What caused me to get stuck is that I found myself over-applying these strengths. I would say “yes” to more things than I could ever accomplish, but I didn’t want to let myself or others down. Or that’s the story I was telling myself.

Then I’d find myself stuck in one of two perspectives:

  1. A victim mindset, especially for those times when I couldn’t deliver on what I’d promised. It wasn’t MY fault; they were just too demanding and didn’t understand my workload!

  2. Or, I’d become a bulldozer, seeing everything that had to get done and pushing, pushing, pushing myself to get it done – on my time, in my way. Burnout.

During the times I was “stuck,” I was angry, frustrated, depressed, repressed, scared, pissed, and faking like everything was fine. But like a can of shaken soda, the pressure would build. When the top was popped, the contents went flying. The pressure would subside, for a while, and then it would build up again. And I’d “pop.” Repeat.

What changed?

I finally figured out why I was doing what I was doing, which was…

I really, really like appreciation. We all do. But I REALLY do. If others acknowledge me for what I think I’m good at, and it helps support the greater good, it makes me feel fully aligned.

At the same time, I never felt like my best was enough. I was only as good as my last success. And if I’m not helping others with my talents that advance the greater good, I’m not adding value. I’m not being “productive.”

I know it’s getting “reals” but allow me be even more vulnerable and share what I was really feeling under it all but didn’t know it yet… “I’m worthless unless someone else tells me my worth.”

Without realizing it, I was in a cycle of taking on more projects in order to get my “fix” of someone telling me they appreciated me. External praise was my “drug” of choice. Then I’d play either victim or bulldozer when the pressure got too high.

The irony is that during this season, I created content for a training session on empowerment that included this question:

“If you never heard another word of praise about the work you do, would you still know the value that you bring?” “Chin Up” by Barb Ranck

It wasn’t until I became curious, and worked with a coach. that I was able to more clearly recognize my patterns. Through the tools I was exposed to and the weekly discussions, I realized that while my intents were noble, my motives were misguided.

I couldn’t help others until I could fully accept and appreciate my full self, who I was truly designed to be, and truly internalize that my worth isn’t tied to others’ perceptions of me or my work.

When I understood not only my strengths but my motives, I could make decisions more aligned with my personal values, create healthy boundaries, take on fewer projects, and become truly present and aligned. It takes courage to not do what you’ve always done. But the choice is always ours.

I’m not aiming for perfection. My goal now is to to be a can of hairspray instead of a shaken pop can. A can of aerosol hairspray has the same internal pressure as the shaken pop can, but the valve allows the pressure to be released in a steady stream. It’s managed pressure, all while doing what it was designed to do.

As a child of the 80s and 90s, it’s no surprise that I like the idea of being a can of aerosol hairspray. AND I can authentically say I am now living in the Range of Acceptability. It’s a feeling of freedom I want others to experience, too.

Your Next Courageous Step

Your personal motivation may not be appreciation. Maybe it’s:

  1. Order

  2. Admiration

  3. Uniqueness

  4. Mastery

  5. Security

  6. Pleasure

  7. Injustice

  8. Peace

This next statement goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: you can be doing good things that you’re good at, with good intentions, and still be out of alignment.

How do you know? You are stuck. Just like I was.

It takes accountability and encouragement to apply information to your day-to-day life, which can be messy (and imperfect). But it’s worth it.

Schedule a free, 30-minute consultation to determine the right amount of support for you.


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