What if stress, pressure and overwhelm are not required for EMS?
There is a pervasive belief in EMS that stress, pressure, overwhelm and even burnout come with the territory; that due to the nature of the job, stress is a given. And it’s no wonder! Virtually every waking moment we are in survival mode, (also known as “flight or fight” mode) rushing, worrying, stressed, trying to keep up with the demands of job and of life.
We keep hoping that someday it will get better when we are more skilled, focused, have more members or solve some problem. In the meantime, days, weeks, months even years go by without any relief because someday never comes. You look around and see that everyone in EMS seems to be in the same situation, so it becomes normalized and accepted as “just the way it is.” We look for strategies to cope with the stress, pressure and overwhelm of the job as if they are reality.
It doesn't have to be this way. In fact, it is possible to eliminate stress, pressure, frustration, overwhelm, etc. as a problem. When you understand that stress, pressure, overwhelm and similar emotions are created in our imagination, or better said are the result of our thinking rather than a RESULT of events or situations – even the crises you deal with in EMS.
Think about it, you can't point to stress as a "thing" in the world. It's a concept not a thing. Any event you believe to be the cause of your stress can be experienced in a different way. For example, a job promotion may be experienced as exciting or stressful. Same event; different experiences. What's the common denominator? Thinking!
Why is it that on an emergency call, while you are in action dealing with the crisis situation you do not experience stress or overwhelm? Consider it’s because you are not engaging with your thinking – you are in the moment doing what needs to be done. You instinctively know that your thoughts are irrelevant to your performance in the moment. After the fact, the thoughts rush in; then you experience stress, overwhelm, etc. Why? Because we innocently mistake our thoughts for reality.
In actuality, we are not experiencing the events or circumstances of life. The events or circumstances of life are not causing our feelings or experiences. Instead… we feel/experience our thinking 100% of the time.
This is extremely good news because thinking changes moment to moment like a cloud on a windy day and you don't have to do anything. Trying to think positively is not required; trying to alter your experience or feeling is not required. All that's needed is an understanding that thoughts are NOT reality. Thoughts are merely energy passing through your brain and when left alone they will pass through and new thoughts will arise.
Don’t take my word for it. Check this out in your own experience. Have you ever noticed that in one moment you can be thinking of something and in the next moment you’ve forgotten what you were thinking? Or you can be really upset with someone then find out they are ill or had a tragedy in their life and suddenly your upset thinking disappears. These are only a couple of examples. If you look for yourself in your own experience you will see many more instances.
You don’t have to believe everything you think” – Buddha
Our natural state is well-being - peace, joy and freedom. The "you" that came before thinking is within you. You were born with it - innate well-being. When you don't get caught up in believing your thinking and you remember that thoughts are not reality - you have instant access to peace, joy and freedom. You see that stress is not normal or required.
Stress and feelings like it distort reality. The only thing our feelings are ever telling us is that we have mistaken our thinking for reality. A “burned out” feeling is telling you about your state of mind; it’s not telling you the truth about you, your situation or life. When you understand that thoughts are transient, ever changing, merely moving through your consciousness it changes your relationship to them. You don’t take your thoughts so seriously; you don’t worry or concern yourself with your thinking as much and it allows you to pay attention to what is ACTUALLY happening in the moment, right in front of you.
Stress, overwhelm, pressure, frustration and even burnout become optional and instead you become responsive in real time to life which increases your effectiveness and aliveness exponentially.