Handling Stress

You will always find something to stress you out. I’ve a friendwho telephoned me to tell me “I’m stressed out because I’ve nothing to be stressed out about!” Bizarre! We never have to look far for something to whip up our adrenalin – and, if we can find nothing, we’ll make it up. In fact, if you are suffering from stress, that’s exactly what you’re doing – making it up. Your stress has got absolutely nothing to do with what’s going on or who’s doing what to you. Your stress is caused by how you react to what you think is going on or what you think someone is doing to you. Go over the last sentence again! There are two steps lead to stress – your perception of what’s happening and your automatic reaction – these are two steps in the wrong direction.

How you view what’s happening is based on your “stored knowledge” – let’s see how that works. Joe at work asks you to do something that’ll take fifteen minutes. When he asks, his voice is “raw data” to your ears. You make sense of that raw data by using your stored knowledge – stuff that you learned during your formative years. This “knowledge” has nothing to do with the current situation. Be that as it may, you automatically use your stored knowledge to make sense of the raw data – and, in the process, make nonsense of it. As a result, you think that Joe has it in for you and is deliberately trying to ruin your day – this may be the farthest thing from the truth but this doesn’t matter to what you do next.

You’ve concluded that Joe has it in for you and your subconscious mind knows exactly how to react – because it’s been reacting to “threats” since some bully upset you in the schoolyard when you were six! Your subconscious mind doesn’t see Joe – it sees that bully. As a result you react – your mind starts working overtime concocting ideas and responses that stress you out – ranging “Now my day’s messed up” to “I hate my job”. Rather than just doing what you were asked to do and then getting on with the rest of your day, your own mind disables you – you can’t do what you’ve been asked to do to the best of your ability, you waste time and energy being annoyed and mess up your own day. This is the chain reaction that takes place every time we encounter anything and anybody – some encounters turn us on, some lead to stress.

However, it can be completely different – you can live a life with no more stress. You can choose to focus on what’s really happening instead of letting your reactive mind ruin your life. It’s up to you. But, like all skills that you want to develop, you’re going to have to train yourself – and the last place that you train is in the middle of the game – you can’t start training when someone’s on your case, you’ve got to get fit before you go into battle. Focusing on what is really going on is easy – you’ve five senses use them! In other words, sit with your eyes closed and you’ll notice that someone’s turned up the volume! But no one hasThey haven’t, of course, it’s just that you’re more tuned in. You might hear a bird singing – your automatic reaction will be “That’s a bird, I know birds, I’m bored, I’ll let my mind wander” – this is the mental recklessness that leads to stress. Don’t jump to the pre-learned conclusion – just be still and listen – and you’ll begin to hear a whole heap more. By breaking the link between what you’re sensing and what you think is happening, you’ve become aware. Practicing this will enable you to stop jumping to the normal reactive conclusions that your subconscious mind has been jumping to all your adult life. So, the next time that you think that someone is on your case you can see it for what it is – perhaps just a minor irritation that, like everything else in life, will pass.

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