It seems there is no getting away from it.
It’s there when we don’t have enough money.
It’s there when our jobs aren’t going well.
It’s there when our jobs are gone.
It’s there when our relationships take a turn for the worse.
It’s there when our houses are lost to horrific fires.
Is there when we receive a bad diagnosis.
It’s there when we suspect we’re going to receive a bad diagnosis.
It seems like it’s there all the time. It’s just always there.
And it affects us in negative, damaging and often destructive ways.
It affects how we think, how we feel and how we conduct ourselves.
It’s like a master force that takes over our bodies and minds and does with us as it wishes.
So what can we do about it?
The experts have many suggestions.
Go for long walks.
All good suggestions, all powerful and effective in their own way and all flawed approaches to a society-wide problem.
These very same experts also tell us to put it in perspective.
So does this work?
Definitively, no, it does not. You see, we can’t get rid of stress by putting it in perspective, unless we understand that what we call stress is already our perspective.
Before we attempt to put our stress into perspective, it is necessary first for us to understand what stress really is.
Stress is not the result of events or other things that happen in our lives. The partial list above of things we often blame for our stress simply represents times or occurrences in our lives and has absolutely nothing to do with any stress we feel.
The stress we feel, and blame for things, happenings or events in our lives, is caused by the meaning we have placed on those things, happenings or events, and not on the things, happenings or events themselves.
In other words, our stress is driven by our perspective, our perception, our viewpoint.
For many, this is an extremely difficult concept to wrap our heads around. The very idea that the stress we feel is not caused by the events to which we are attributing our feelings, but rather to the meaning we are placing on those events is contrary to our traditional cause and effect mindset.
Yet, once those very same folks are able to apply this concept they suddenly become the recipients and beneficiaries of stress and anxiety-free lives because they have learned to separate what is happening in their world from the way they react to those very things.
They quickly learn that while they can rarely control many of the events in their lives – we have no control over the person cutting us off in traffic, forcing us to slam on the brakes and swerve to avoid a collision – they have absolute control over the meaning they place on that event and, consequently, how it impacts them emotionally.
I have long believed the quality of our lives is the quality of our ability to own and control our emotions. Taking the time to teach ourselves that the only meaning of any and everything that happens is the meaning we choose to place upon it is the first, and most critical step to a life of emotional mastery.
It may indeed be a difficult step to take, but you will never take another that is more worthwhile.
On another matter, I’m asking for your help to help others: I have a goal of raising $10,000 to contribute to the Fort McMurray aid and restoration efforts. To accomplish this, I have reduced the fee for my two-hour StressAway workshops by 50% with a portion of the fee going to achieving that goal. My company, Strategic Pathways, will match this amount.
If you know of anyone who will benefit by bringing this workshop into their organization, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward all the necessary information to you.
Till we read again.