Stress comes from only 2 sources. Either believing that you are not capable of performing as required, or being uncomfortable in your present surroundings.
I know there are many who will disagree with me, but the bottom line is that any other explanation on the cause of stress will boil down to one of these two reasons.
Knowing this gives us several options in resolving our need to eliminate stress from our lives. I’m sure you’ve heard that not all stress is bad, or that we need a certain amount of stress just to stay alive, and other things along these lines. The stress I’m talking about in this article is the excess stress that we don’t need, and that can cause problems for us.
Many of us are not aware of how much stress we are carrying around with us. There are so few people who actually have eliminated all excess stress from their lives that for all practical purposes we can say they don’t exist. If you feel as though you are one of these rare people, then congratulations! But even so, examine what I’m about to cover and see if maybe you can eliminate a little more stress and reach a healthier state of being.
Let’s take a look at the easier of the two situations, being uncomfortable with your surroundings. This could be physical discomfort, or emotional discomfort. Physical discomfort refers to being too hot, too cold, sitting on too hard a surface, and that kind of thing.
I’ve found that in many cases, the discomfort stems from resisting the situation and not accepting it. I’ve never liked being too cold, but when I’ve consciously accepted it and stopped resisting the cold, then I became much more comfortable with it. The same is true in situations that are too hot for my preferences, as well as practically every other physical discomfort that I’ve tested this theory with. Resistance equals pain, and acceptance will eliminate much of the discomfort.
Stress that results from physical discomfort can be eliminated by either accepting the situation, or by changing it. The famous Serenity Prayer stems from this idea. If you can change something you don’t like, then change it. If you cannot change it, then accept it.
Emotional discomfort can be alleviated much the same way. Emotional discomfort comes as a result of someone acting or reacting to you in a manner that you don’t want to accept. Criticism, blame, hatred, jealousy, guilt, and other harmful words are usually not welcome, appreciated, nor accepted.
If someone says that we are inferior, or that we are wrong in some fundamental way, we tend to take that as a judgment of ourselves. Most of the time, however, it is more of a judgment of the person who is telling us these things.
If you were to translate every negative word against you into a statement against the person speaking, then you will eliminate a great deal of emotional discomfort and the stress that comes from that.
With everything that is said to you, you have a choice whether there is any merit to the statement or not. If there is merit, and there is an opportunity to improve yourself in a way that you wish to improve, then by all means use the information to make a positive change. And if there is no merit to what is said, then release it as the words of a misguided individual.
So, stress from discomfort can be mostly eliminated by simply not resisting the uncomfortable situation, but rather accepting it for what it is. If you watch animals such as cats or dogs, you’ll see that they really don’t care what kind of surface they lie upon, they can sleep practically anywhere. That’s because they do not resist the surface.
As Bruce Lee once said, “Be like water, my friend. Water molds itself to any environment in which it finds itself.” This is one of the primary secrets to eliminating stress.
The other major cause of stress is thinking that you’re not capable of handling a required situation. If this is indeed the case, then you are in trouble. But rarely is this the true case. Rather, it is much more likely that you can indeed handle the situation and you just don’t realize it.
There are two components to this scenario that can eliminate much of your stress. Either you are misjudging the situation and you are indeed capable of handling it, or you are not really required to handle the situation as you think you must.
Since we cannot change our capabilities in the present time, but only by working on those capabilities over time, whether we can or cannot handle the situation in front of us is immaterial. All we can do is give it our best and hope that it will work out.
And if we do give it our best, then we will succeed much more often than if we only give it a portion of our abilities.
Giving each situation that presents itself our best will usually result in our abilities getting stronger and our capabilities growing larger in scope.