How does stress control our behavior

"I'm a different person under stress!" That's behind it

We think we know a person - but no sooner is he very stressed than out of nowhere he shows completely contrary traits and behaviors. This applies to others as well as to ourselves. Ragnhild Struss reveals the system, what is hidden behind these atypical tendencies and why they make perfect sense.

You are actually a friendly, tolerant and empathetic person, but from a certain stress level onwards you suddenly behave harsh, critical and aggressive? Or are you someone who always has everything under control, is tidy and reliable - only to be completely irresponsible and distracted in times of crisis under the feeling of being overwhelmed, so that your friends hardly recognize you? To a certain extent, when we are under tension, we display “one more shovel” of our usual behavior: For example, a perfectionist first tries to make everything “even more correct”; Looking to the future, a success-oriented image person will work even more to appear in a positive light. However, if the stress becomes so severe that we can no longer consciously control our behaviorIn other words, if the stressors exceed our coping resources, we display completely atypical behavior and act “out of character” - like a completely different person.

Why is that? Our response under extreme stress can be called Compensation mechanism for our other alignment be understood. Everyone sets certain priorities within the framework of their character: which values ​​are relevant for their own life and which ones to reject, what needs to be achieved, how one should behave and what must be avoided, what one promotes in oneself and what one prefers want to suppress. As with the back of a medal, each of these consciously set priorities also brings with it an unconscious shadow side, which we largely shift into the unconscious, for example ambition and indolence, order and chaos, courage and fear, altruism and egoism, personal responsibility and sacrifice, Moderation and gluttony - the list is long. Whenever we are too strongly trapped in our preferred personality pattern and can no longer make any progress with it, our psyche balances itself outby letting us act out aspects of our “medal reverse” - often to the complete surprise of outsiders as well as ourselves.

The positive thing about our “out of character” reactions

Basically, this "like another person" behavior makes sense and often helps us in retrospect: If, for example, an always compliant, adapted and modest person is repeatedly passed over or taken advantage of due to their "nice" manner, their stress reaction is the same effectively speaking out angry and speaking out aggressively for their own needs. Even a workaholic who works more and more, never takes a break and is completely exhausted, protects himself with his stress reaction to a certain extent from himself when he suddenly becomes lazy, doesn't feel like anything and spends days only with Netflix and pizza. However, one is even better solution, not to let it get that far in the first place and take countermeasures before the stress drives us to the other extreme. Make yourself aware of the behavior that you typically overemphasize in your personality and regularly allow yourself to be able to live the opposite to a healthy extent.

Different personality types and their atypical stress reactions

Nine different personality types are described below - and how they can behave under extreme stress. You will certainly recognize yourself in one or more of the types. Try to notice in everyday life when you are very stressed and allow yourself a break from your typical demands on yourself in good time. This way you avoid extreme reactions.

Fun-loving types suddenly get picky

Happy optimists have a lot of energy and see life as a wonderful playground full of possibilities. You want to enjoy all the joys to the full and share generously with others. New, fun options draw them in, while deterring routine, detail, and limitation. They prefer to joke and distract themselves than let themselves be slowed down by dull activities and boring contemporaries.

Under extreme stress, the optimistic sunshine sometimes becomes unusually serious, critical and strict with themselves and others. Suddenly they stick to details and their flexibility and looseness give way to severity, black-and-white judgments and hair-splitting. Social injustice and other grievances excite them now where they usually react with humor.

Positive effect and learning: After all their hedonism and their “Easy peasy lemon sqeezy!” Attitude towards life, those who are fun-oriented benefit from a little more seriousness and critical consideration. You develop more discipline and learn to stay on the ball with projects instead of always turning to the next “shiny object”. In addition, her view expands from her subjective fulfillment to collectively relevant topics. The lesson: having fun is good - as long as you can show the necessary seriousness when necessary.

Helpful guys suddenly get aggressive

The pleasant helper type is usually charming, empathetic and courteous. As a born service provider, he knows how to read other people's wishes from the eyes and to support his loved ones wherever he can. Since he only feels valuable when he is needed by others, he sometimes focuses too much on the expectations and needs of other people and hardly takes care of himself.

Under extreme stress, helper types can suddenly appear dominant, angry and aggressive. All of the pent-up frustration from the constant selfless-being-there-for-others unloads loudly, and the helpful person now demands what is due to him. She becomes easily irritable, attacks others and can also show herself to be controlling.

Positive effect and learning: What expresses itself in the extreme is an important regulator of the too great sacrifice of this type. Not only are the helpers now finally standing up for themselves and their own needs. They also become more independent of the opinion of others and express their opinion more honestly instead of concealing it in a pleasant and charming way. An important learning curve is to address your own wishes to others in the long term, not just to give, but also to take from time to time and to work on a self-worth that is more independent of your relationships.

Perfectionist types suddenly get moody

Some people always want to do everything right and live according to the highest standards and ideals. They always seem to have everything under control, avoid mistakes at all costs and are moral role models for others. It is what drives them to feel like “good people” and to always behave morally appropriately. Accordingly, they often suppress unwanted feelings such as anger, envy or a childish victim attitude.

Under extreme stress, perfectionists can become surprisingly over-sensitive, moody, and sentimental. They then rise into Weltschmerz about the fact that nothing is perfect and everything is flawed, they feel hopeless, unloved and misunderstood and feel a deep longing for what they cannot have. The otherwise so composed person develops - similar to the Snickers advertisement - into a self-pitying diva.

Positive effect and learning: The otherwise so controlled, often tense perfectionists it is good to come into contact with their feelings and to allow them to be. Because with their constant orientation to socially highly recognized rules and standards, their subjective feeling often falls short. In the best case scenario, through their sudden emotionality in artistic expression, they will find an outlet that they should ideally integrate firmly into their everyday life to compensate. The learning here is: Everyone is imperfect - but that makes people authentic, approachable and lovable. Not everything has to be classified and controlled according to the highest moral principles.

Success-oriented types suddenly become apathetic

Charming doers love to be jack-of-all-trades, to measure themselves against others, to achieve success and to win. As networking professionals, they manage to build a connection with everyone and cast a spell on people. Their image is flawless and they are a role model for many because they seem to easily succeed whatever they start. They apparently draw a lot from this positive response from others, which is why they continue to work tirelessly, build up a large network and take extremely reluctant breaks.

Under extreme stress, you can hardly recognize the success-oriented. Atypically they now fall into apathy, postpone work on their projects and sometimes mutate into passive couch potatoes. Otherwise so decisive, they don't really know what to do with themselves, lose their willpower and react to criticism passively, aggressively and defiantly.

Positive effect and learning: There is an important lesson in their stress response for the success-oriented: It's okay to take your foot off the accelerator and occasionally trade the fast lane of success for a country road of calm. In addition, they lose their excessive focus on their own image and begin to see other people more and to accept them tolerantly. As learning for the future, doers should regularly (and not just before burnout) always plan for relaxation and leisure phases and occasionally do things authentically only for themselves instead of for an audience.

Serene types suddenly become anxious

Some people always seem to "go with the flow". It is easy for you not to get upset and you live according to the motto “Tomorrow is also another day”. They are willing to adapt and trust their fellow human beings. They often put their own needs in the background “for the sake of harmony”.

Under extreme stress, relaxed types can suddenly become very anxious and suspicious. Their confident “Et still has jut jejange” attitude then gives way to excessive worries and getting into worst-case scenarios. They also suddenly feel doubts, both about themselves and about others.

Positive effect and learning: Procrastination and ostrich politics are negative aspects of relaxed types that are compensated by their stress response. Now they are making a more realistic assessment of the facts, instead of automatically assuming the best with blind naivety. They also become more vigilant towards other people and their intentions and thus set themselves apart in good time before they are taken advantage of. You can learn from this that, despite all the love of harmony and confidence, you can always check the facts, take your own position, express your needs accordingly, take action in good time and show healthy caution - as compensation for her very relaxed demeanor.

Dominant types suddenly withdraw

Boss and leader types are usually confident and strong, know what they want, act impulsively, and take the lead as a matter of course. You don't seem to be afraid of anything, you are quick and active and have a clear, subjective opinion on every topic. Sometimes they seem intimidating to others, but also heroic.

Under extreme stress, dominant types sometimes feel unable to cope with the associated responsibility, withdraw completely and suddenly become quiet and turned inward. Your otherwise intense feelings feel numb, you have little energy left and are surprisingly cerebral.

Positive effect and learning: This reaction regulates the “too much” of dominant types in a natural way: too much striving for power, too impulsive action, too black and white opinions, acting too much “from the gut”. They become more sober and objective, weigh more carefully before taking action, and keep a cool head instead of being overwhelmed by emotions like anger and anger. A lesson for them is that they should consciously moderate their intense inner energy from time to time and, ideally, always take a deep breath and think before they “stumble” and sometimes run over others or act too quickly and carelessly. In interpersonal relationships, you have to create a space between stimulus and response.

Inquisitive types are suddenly scattered

Introverted, analytically rational people do not need too much interpersonal contact, but prefer a good book or their preferred online knowledge forum to socializing and “fun activities”. They love to learn and often develop into experts in a field that interests them particularly. Private and withdrawn, they often live in their head, while physical needs or feelings play a subordinate role.

Under extreme stress it suddenly looks completely different and the inquisitive types plunge into excess. They become restless, seek one diversion after the other and now want to savor every moment to the full. Partying, alcohol, and other hedonistic distractions suddenly make the otherwise sensible ones fall into their opposite.

Positive effect and learning: This overcompensation in stressful states reminds the head people that they also have a body and (inter-) human needs that are sometimes neglected due to being too withdrawn in their world of knowledge. You are then less inhibited, can relax and just have fun. The lesson for them is that life should not only be penetrated intellectually, but must also be lived - and that they should plan for distraction and contacts in their everyday lives in healthy doses.

Doubting types suddenly play a confident role

Very safety-oriented people are reliable, loyal and risk averse. It takes a while for them to make decisions as they are always very careful and they tend to question things over and over again, such as the trustworthiness of certain people. Despite all their skepticism, they are excellent at protecting the people in their “inner circle” and developing surprising courage in the face of dangers.

Under extreme stress, security-minded people suddenly overcompensate for their inner doubts with an emphatically self-confident, image and success-oriented appearance. They then show themselves to be competitive to arrogant, play an inauthentic role that they hope will get a positive response, and get very busy to cover up their fears.

Positive effect and learning: Even if you sometimes overshoot with this compensation mechanism, he gets you out of the "paralysis by analysis" by reminding the doubting types that they have to make decisions and act in order to achieve their goals. In addition, they overcome their otherwise existing fear of success - they could be vulnerable if they stand out from the crowd - and dare to stand up for their convictions. As a learning, they can set out to be less hesitant in other ways and simply to act courageously and to believe in themselves and their abilities.

Self-absorbed types suddenly become overly clingy

Many artistic-intellectual people live their lives with heightened sensations: They have fine antennae for beauty and aesthetics, think and feel deeply and see themselves as somehow "different" and extraordinary. Occasionally, being “special” goes hand in hand with a certain amount of self-love. They tend to intensify their own feelings and often seem to attract or create a certain drama themselves. Due to their sensitivity and diversity, they can often create special creative works to express themselves.

Under extreme stress, these individualistic types can suddenly shift their focus from themselves exclusively to their counterpart and become very clingy or self-sacrificing towards people who are important to them. They then completely shift their attention to pleasing their "significant others" and binding them to themselves through flattering or manipulative behavior, making themselves more or less indispensable and also signaling to the other person that it would be "nothing" without them.

Positive effect and learning: In a moderate form, the self-absorbed types' stress tendency is a good development for them. Because the excessive circling around one's own person and mood gives way to an awareness of other people and their needs. Before this change occurs to an extreme extent during stress, individualists should learn that they do not always have to distance themselves from others in order to emphasize their uniqueness, but that it is also nice to feel connected to others and to express their feelings consider.

The most important basis for professional success and personal satisfaction is a lifestyle that is in harmony with your personality. Knowing them is the first step. With our free trial test, we offer you the opportunity to take it and get a first look inside.