Mike Fisher is Europe’s leading expert on stress and anger management. As the founder of the British Association of Anger Management (BAAM), and having helped over 16,000 people over a 16 year period, he knows a lot about how low self esteem leads to stress, and how stress leads to anger.
Promoting BAAM’s latest products of mediation, stress audits, conflict free resolutions, face-to-face Skype work and group stress programmes, Mike tells us how low self esteem has a direct correlation to stress.
He says that the idea of how stress affects low self esteem is actually pandemic in our culture, citing evidence that nearly all BAAM clients have the underlining issue of low self esteem.
When a person is suffering from low self esteem, there are five contributing factors.
- Priority. If you don’t prioritise yourself, you will find you take on projects, activities or say yes to certain commitments because you aren’t considering how taking on somebody else’s prioritises, affects your own emotional wellbeing and health. If you don’t make yourself a priority in your own life, you will in effect be ignoring your own stress signs, ignoring what you are capable of doing and not capable of doing and ignoring your own limitations.
- Pressure. Through the years of helping people, Mike is aware of how many individuals put themselves under copious amounts of pressure to perform, which eventually exhausts them and they become ill. Mike has recognised the correlation between stress and anger. He says that stress fuels anger and gives us this simple formula to better understand it: Reduced Stress + Reduced Anger = Increased Self Esteem. People who put themselves under pressure tend to be described by others as high achieves but low self esteemers. These people assume the only way to achieve is to embrace the pressure with open arms. The fallout of course being ill health, stress and anger.
- Approval. We all seek other people’s approval to make us feel good about ourselves. ‘Positive Strokes’ as Mike would call it. ‘There are two components to this’, he would say, one is trying to prove yourself and two is seeking approval. By continually seeking approval and trying to prove yourself; what needs to be identified is how does it serve you and what do you get out of that? There is a connection between seeking approval, putting yourself under pressure and not prioritising yourself. Mike will encourage everyone to STOP SEEKING APPROVAL. Number one, you don’t need it. Two, getting positive strokes from others doesn’t last very long. The challenge is to identify why you are seeking approval and actually what you are getting out of it and what are its benefits?
- Control. A very interesting aspect of stress is that when people don’t feel in control of a situation, they inevitably feel anxious about it. The flip side being when people feel they are taking over and exerting too much control and not giving anyone space to do what they want to do, can also lead to anxiety. Mike would use himself as a prime example and openly admit that in a professional context, his control behaviour can be very limiting to others and very controlling of others. If people aren’t doing what he wants done the way he expects it to be done, it causes him a lot of frustration, anxiety and everything else which goes in having to control everything. During the many programmes that BAAM has on offer, Mike would ask his clients to look at their relationship with control, where they don’t feel they are in control and how to take control and where through controlling, they suffocate spontaneity and creativity in others.
- Trust. When Mike talks about Trust, he is talking about your capacity to trust the unfolding of your own life. Knowing that even if you drop the ball, even if you let somebody down, even if you make a commitment you can’t follow through on, its not the end of the world. People who have low self esteem tend to catastrophise. The challenge Mike makes to each of us is to try and train ourselves to trust that whatever happens is not going to be the end of our world, the end of our life. The sky won’t come falling down on us. It’s just a situation where we have to find the emotional resilience in order to cope. People with low self esteem don’t tend to trust themselves, so Mike will look at what’s getting in the way of trusting yourself more. To achieve this end Mike introduces the Shaking the Apple Tree Process. A simply but extremely powerful tool to use.
The Shaking the Apple Tree Process is designed for people to look at their resilience and increase their self esteem. It looks at why they put themselves under pressure and why they feel the need to. It helps to stop making everybody else a priority other than themselves. Take any example and apply it to the Shaking the Apple Tree Process. For example use debt as your major stressor in life. In order to deal with your debt or to reduce your debt is to Accept, Let go of, Give up, Acknowledge and Admit.
- Accept – being in debt is anxiety and fear provoking.
- Let go of – poverty consciousness.
- Give up – trying to impress other people.
- Acknowledge – that you need to remain focused and responsible.
- Admit – that you need lots of support to get out of debt.