Who does stress make you?        

Who are you when you’re stressed? It seems that we can choose who we wish to be to a certain degree. For instance we can make a good impression when we want to and show different sides of our character in different situations.

Reverting Back to Type

However, when we get stressed we tend to automatically exhibit our learned behavior and ‘revert to type’. Family Therapist, Virginia Satir identified 5 distinct ‘stress responders’ and described how each of these would react in stressful situations. The categories are the Placater, Blamer, Computer, Distracter and Leveller.

Different Coping Strategies

Imagine you are at a dinner party when a big row erupts and emotions are running high. How could these five different types of stress responders react?

The Placater wants everyone to be happy, even at his or her own expense. They are willing to take the blame as long as they can prevent any confrontation. They will apologise and accept responsibility for everything. ‘I’m so sorry, I can see that this is all my fault. Please forgive me. Can we just forget about this and carry on and have a lovely evening together

The Blamer will blame anybody and everybody but themselves. “You started this…. If she hadn’t said that….. You always do this….. It’s all your fault…… This has got nothing to do with me…..

The computer will be calm and logical, deal with facts and not be interested in anyone’s emotional response. “Let’s look at this rationally. We are all hungry and we have food in front of us. Let’s agree to disagree and eat.”

The Distracter will do anything to distract so that they can ignore what’s going on. They don’t want to get involved at any level. “Now, who would like another glass of wine? I wonder, did anyone watch that very interesting documentary about the Sahara last night?

The Leveller is the person who can skillfully use any and/all of the other techniques to make the best of the situation.  When appropriate they will blame, placate, compute or distract but unlike the others they are flexible and responsive. All types can be levelers sometimes but it takes a special sort of person to be a leveler all the time.

Can you see your own stressor type?

It’s easy to recognize the types in other people particularly, I suspect, in your own family but do you know who are you when you’re stressed? I know which one I am, (but of course you must realize – it’s not my fault!)

Lesley Lyle MAPP: Author, Writer, Positive Psychologist, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Associate lecturer, Laughter Facilitator Director Positive Psychology Learning. Follow her on Twitter & Facebook

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