You can find a bajillion articles on the internet about how to reduce stress. Exercise, get more sleep, eat healthier, blah blah blah. Over 40% of the American workforce admits that they need help coping with their stress. That’s amazing, considering what prideful people we are, right? And, I’m here to tell you something 100% non-scientific. It is merely, the difference between these two statements:
“I am stressed.”
“I am making myself stressed.”
Now, I don’t want to downplay the extreme pressure that comes with paying bills, performing on the job, reducing debt, dealing with loss, etc. I know, because I live it. It’s a cruel cruel world, and we’re all here to beat it down so we can thrive towards our own goals. That’s why it’s even more important to understand the VAST difference between ‘i am stressed” and “I am making myself stressed.”
“I am stressed,” assumes that you are your stress. That stress currently defines the human that you are. It is your identity. It becomes your middle name. Your friends would describe you as ‘stressed,’ when explaining who you are as a human being. But, in reality, you aren’t stress, even though you’re thinking like it. Really, you are, like all humans, looking for happiness, balance, smiles, frolicking in a field, and all those positive bubbly emotions that define our best days.
“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein
“I am making myself stressed,” separates you from the physical reaction to increased pressure. It says “This happened, AND THEN that happened,” and NOT this and that happened at the same time. Because, truly, stress comes after you experience something, or think about something, or feel something. (It’s important to note here that we’re not talking about stress as a result of physical exertion — that’s a whole different ball game). Your thoughts about whatever events you’re dealing are thus dictating your current emotions. “I am making myself stressed,” instantly distances you from the adverse effects of stress. There is “a space between us” as the great philosopher, Dave Matthews once said. This space is what we must create in order to reduce and eliminate stress,
By stepping back when we’re stressed, taking a deep breath, and realizing that this feeling of tenseness, of headaches, of physiological imbalance is being caused by our own reaction, we then gain the power to suppress it. We can reach out to this separate entity and toss it into our wastebasket of worthless emotions.
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
- Marcus Aurelius
So, next time you begin experiencing stress, think about the role you play in inviting that stress into your life, and think about the difference between those two statements, and then just generally avoid being like Frank the Tank after his failed dance finale stunt:
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