Why do people make unnecessary mistakes when under stress?

How many times have we regretted for not reacting differently in a stressful situation?

Situations in which, due to the stress, we are not able to behave like “ourselves”, give us the opportunity to improve and correct our mistakes… although the hard way. But what often happens is that even in those kinds of situations we fail to learn the lesson, and act the same way the next time we find ourselves in the same situation. Repeated mistakes are followed by regret. We tend to focus our attention on the consequences and not the cause, i.e. the things that have caused the stress and unnecessary mistakes.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

The first thing we need to do is to determine the needs that are very important to us. PCM offers an extremely simple tool. Based on numerous studies it was found that there are six different personality types, each of which defines specific characteristics and psychological needs. Research suggests that if psychological needs are met, the person will be satisfied, fulfilled and effective. But on the other hand, if our psychological needs are not met we will try (consciously or unconsciously) to satisfy them through negative (unwanted) behavior. This causes the stress levels to rise and we tend to behave in one of two ways: entering into conflicts or dissociate and withdraw.

According to the PCM, when under stress Harmonizers tend to make involuntary and stupid mistakes, while Imaginers tend to withdraw and become passive and absent. On the other hand, Thinkers tend to focus all attention on details, while Persisters try to take the control. When we find ourselves in these roles, even if we don’t like our reactions we believe that they are the only choice.  Furthermore, this way we encourage various behaviors we could later regret, that we probably would not demonstrate if we were not stressed.

When we know how we behave under stress we are able to understand our specific psychological needs which, if not met, are the cause of stress. That is how we come to the cause of the problem. We become aware of potential consequences and find a way to satisfy our psychological needs in a positive way, before they put us in a potentially undesirable situation.

Jelena Spremo