Saturday, January 5, 2019

Stress and the Word "NO"

The following is an update of some of the things I have dealt with while trying to build a new life in my new profession.


Stress and the Word "NO"
By Keith Birmingham - 2010

My dictionary defines stress as strain felt by somebody. It can be emotional or physical stress and can be caused by anxiety or overwork. Emotional stress can be caused by any number of details that occur in our lives. And, something that causes stress in one person’s life may not even phase another person. But stress may cause raised blood pressure and/or depression. And, stress can be a killer. It tried to kill me.

This month I will turn 70. In the past year I have looked back at how my life has gone, the things I’ve done, the things I’ve seen, and the things that have happened to me. And, I have concluded that all of these things together have made me the person that I am today.

I could sit here and type out a book about all the things stress has done to my life from age 10 to age the age I am today. Instead, I would just like to list some symptoms of stress that will help people to realize that they themselves have lived through some of the same situations in their lives that I have lived through in my life. I’m not a shrink so I cannot counsel anyone. And, I do not know you. So, I cannot console you. All I can do is get you to consider how you have handled the stress points in your life and think about how you may have handled them better.
For example, no two people handle the stresses put on them in the same way. Some people, in fact, seem to be able to just shrug off events. Highway traffic is a symptom of stress that is more prevalent in our society every day. After 35 years of driving a truck for a living, I can safely say that my job was a lot easier to do when I started in 1974 than it was when I retired in 2009. I would think that elderly people, such as myself, probably feel this stress far more than people in their thirties, or younger. I know that I show a lot more frustration trying to drive through the city than my 36-year-old son does. He shrugs it off while I swear and yell.

Here are some other common stress factors:
1.) You know what your career choice is, but you do not know how you are going to finance the needed education. Learning to say “no” to others is a very good way to help yourself.
2.) Your spouse/lover is not as trustworthy as you thought.
Do it once - shame on them. Do it twice - shame on you. I should have said “no more”.
3.) Your job is not as secure as you had hoped it would be. It doesn’t give them the right to treat you like dirt. I have left more than one job for that reason. I did not say “no” enough, or soon enough. The two most powerful words in any language have to be “yes” and “no”.
4.) Appointments, meetings, and work leave no time for the family at home.
The laws and regulations are written to let shippers, receivers and employers hold the driver responsible for late appointments. They do not protect the safety of the driver or the public. If the driver argues this point it could mean his job. I am just thankful that I never killed
anyone in a traffic accident because I didn’t say “no”. Get proper rest.
5.) Your salary doesn’t cover the expenses it once did. This was bad judgment on my part. On average I drove 3,000 to 4,500 miles every week. I deserved better. It won’t happen again. “No” job is worth it. If I do not profit from my work my employer does not deserve to profit from my work.
6.) Your children have issues that you do not understand, or you cannot cope with them. I won’t discuss the moral side of this. In the end, both parents play a part in that side of it. But, the children, regardless of the background cannot use the lack of proper parenting to continue destroying the lives of those around them. Sometimes the word “no” brings about unwanted results, but in the end, they are necessary. If the truth is ever known maybe all my children will see where I am right.
7.) You find yourself alone just when you need to know someone is there. Yes, everyone deserves a chance for a social and professional life. But you cannot let the stress of “yes” work against you. Learn to say “no.”
Here is how I handled the situations:
1.) Unable to pay for my education I landed in a career I had never considered until the day I was hired for my first job. Seemingly, I was blessed to stumble into my 35-year career. In truth, my personality led me to find employment where I had only myself to rely on to get the job done.
2.) It was not just my spouses that betrayed me. In the process, I lost everything that even resembled a social life. The answer here is that I needed to push myself back out in public and into social life. Truthfully, I did not do this.
3.) I have been planning to start my own business involving the education I should have been seeking so long ago. I had never really planned to retire from a 35-year career, but I was forced into retirement by a lead foot and bad health in November of 2009. And, that is why I have time to write this article.
4.) Unless you’ve been there you cannot imagine how it is to be constantly on the move for a solid 35 years. Most of my dispatches were scheduled for 100 miles per hour speed limits. My truck ran 75 miles per hour. Sleep apnea is a common ailment in the trucking industry. Sleep deprivation, I believe, is what led to my sleep apnea. Proper rest, exercise and diet is the only real way to stay healthy.
5.) My salary for the last 5 years was, at most, 2/3’s of what it should have been. I talked myself into believing that this was ok, mainly because my company did not force me to go where I did not like to go. And, I liked the freight I hauled. However, I should have either demanded better pay or found a better paying job.
6.) My children and grandchildren are the most important parts of my life. However, I am exiled from most of them because of issues that failed marriages were a major cause of. Also, I did not agree with their past lifestyles. Today, I can only hope and pray that God will take good care of them.
7.) I have become accustomed to living alone. You have to learn to be alone and work alone to survive in the trucking industry. But that doesn’t mean that I like it, even though I am sometimes thankful for it. Now that I am retired from trucking I hope to have a social life.
My name is Keith Birmingham. I am an Oklahoma/Nevada based photographer, writer, and webmaster with a growing catalog of industrial, lifestyle and nature photography. HKB Photo is the online portfolio he uses to attract professional photo buyers. HKB Photo Studio is my online "event photography" studio. If you use articles written by Keith Birmingham for any kind of publication you must include this resource box with the article. For details please contact Keith Birmingham. See my websites for a snail-mail address or phone number.

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