Interior Integration for Catholics

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Dr. Peter walks you through a process of identifying and understanding problematic stress responses so you can better meed the underlying, often hidden needs that drive those responses.

Show Notes

Coronavirus Crisis:  Carpe Diem

Our Stress Responses:  Discovering, Understanding and Improving Them 

Episode 2

March 25, 2020


Welcome to the podcast Coronavirus Crisis:  Carpe Diem where together we embrace the possibilities and opportunities for spiritual and psychological growth, all grounded in a Catholic worldview.

Today we’re going to talk about how our stress responses give us very valuable information about ourselves, our psychological functioning and also our spiritual development.  

So stress responses are the things we habitually do when we are stressed.  They are ways of coping, ways of trying to adapt to the situation.  

You may know your stress responses or you might not know them.  Here are some examples of stress resposnes:  

·         Raiding the Fridge (chocolate)
·         Biting nails
·         Caught up in video games solitaire
·         Online shopping
·         Obsessive exercise
·         Staring into space
·         Starting arguments with the spouse
·         Cleaning
·         Baking
·         Viewing pornography online

So now we’re going to explore our stress responses?  Why do that?  Why should we care?  Because they tell us what we need, or at least what we assume we need at some level.  And when those stress responses are maladaptive, we can fight them head on and sometimes we have to.  But if we can find the underlying need, we can address it in an entirely new and healthy way.  

My stress response is __________________

Next, let’s ask, “What does your stress response do for you?”  How is that response trying to meet an assumed or real need?

If you listen in, you might find the answer.  

You may already think you know the answer, and you may be right.  

But let’s go deeper together.   


Let’s have an open mind and an open heart toward ourselves on this one.  We may have an insight if we are open to it.  

The big theme:  Our stress responses show us our growing edges, the areas in which we need to receive grace and help.  

OK, so here’s the final part.  Let’s bring those needs into the spiritual life.  

In a crisis like this, the need often has to do with being secure or having a sense of safety.  

As Catholics, our need for security and for safety can’t be met by maladaptive stress responses.  

They don’t work.  Chocolate can’t really make you safer.  Nailbiting can only temporarily cover stress, not resolve it.

So to recap:  First, Let’s recognize which of our behaviors are stress responses.  Let’s name them and acknowledge them, own them, be real about them.  So for me, that stress response  is way too much internet surfing and study both of the economic and political news.

Second, Let’s then reflect and be open to the needs or assumed needs we have that drive them.  In my case, an assumed need to predict what is happening and to control it.  My real need though, is for a sense of safety and security.

Third, taking those assumed needs and real needs into the spiritual life in some way that is helpful to you.  In my case, bring the need for safety and security to God the Father and to Mary.  

Ok, so we are winding it up for today.  

Subscribe to this podcast and become a regular listener.

Email me at and let me know what was helpful and what was not. 

Sign up for our upcoming assessment and limited-space webinars that will help you learn more about your reactions in a crisis at

Let me know what you need from this podcast.  

Check out .  

Dr. Gerry has just launched his course for married couples who are recovering from the discovery of porn use – porn use is a stress response for many people.  

Let’s pray for each other.  Our Lady, Untier of Knots:  Pray for Us.  St. John the Baptist  Pray for us.  



What is Interior Integration for Catholics?

In the Resilient Catholics podcast, together, we seek fundamental transformation in our lives through human formation. We look for God's providence in all that happens to us, in accord with Romans 8:28, grounded in an authentic Catholic worldview. Join us as we sail through uncharted waters, seizing the opportunities for psychological and spiritual growth and increasing resilience in the natural and spiritual realms. With a clear takeaway message and one action in each weekly episode, you can move from dreading what is happening to you to rising above it. Join us on Mondays for new episodes. You can also join our online community around this podcast at