Are You Your Own Source of Stress?

Stress arises if we believe that an excessive amount has been expected of us and that we don’t have any command on the circumstances. For example, most people would feel the pressure of undertaking a tough project at work which had short deadlines at exactly the time our child fell ill. Or how about juggling a school Nativity play with the Christmas shop ahead of the in-laws arriving this evening with an unscheduled trip to the dentist for a chipped tooth?

But I’m guessing that most of us actually put ourselves under too much stress on a daily basis.  And by this I mean stress that is not actually real.  I’m talking about the negative self talk excuses we repeat mantra-like every day to make sure we do not succeed in doing even things that we say we DO want to do.

Why do we sabotage ourselves like this?

How many times have you found yourself using lack of time as an excuse?  Sure there may be a good reason why you cannot do something right now, but do you really think it’s likely that you will NEVER have the time to do it EVER at ANY stage in your future life? No, me neither.  After all, we all seem to find enough time to do the things we really want to do, like watch the television, or take our kids to football, ballet, parties, music classes etc. 

So what’s going on?

I think there are several reasons why we continually make excuses for not doing things we really want to do. 

Firstly, maybe we do NOT actually want to do what we think we do.  Maybe we just think we OUGHT to.  If this is the case, then stop stressing about it.  Admit that you don’t want to do it, and move on.

Secondly, we DO actually want to do it but secretly or subconsciously feel scared that doing whatever will set us apart, or alienate us from our friends and loved ones.  Being part of the in-crowd, or peer pressure, is a powerful motivator and, if it works to keep you in a little life when you dream of flying, then it is also a powerful suppressor.  If this is the case, then you need to judge carefully what is more important for you in the long run. 

To do this, imagine where you will be in 10 years time and you have NOT done whatever it is.  How do you feel?  Is there a knot in your stomach and do you feel regret and longing?  If so, then you need to figure out how you are going to achieve your dreams because living with the stress of under achievement will make you ill as you resent your friends and loved ones in the long run.

Thirdly, we DO actually want to do this thing but secretly or subconsciously we feel that WE are not worthy of the success of whatever would result.  This is  the most serious kind of self sabotage because your excuses are holding you hostage.  You will feel stressed as you increasingly find displacement activities – activities that you do instead of whatever you know you should be doing. 

In this case it is crucial that you stop the negative self talk that you are probably using to make your excuses.  I’m talking about things like, “I don’t have time..”, “No-one will want to listen to me”, or “I don’t deserve this” and so on.  In this case, look inside yourself and figure out why you are using negative self talk and address THIS issue. Positive affirmations are very useful if you need to change your mindset but you do need to use them, stick them up and say them out loud to yourself.  

When reinforced through constant repetition the subconscious accepts positive affirmations as true and then makes them reality.  The same is true of excuses and negative self talk presented to the subconscious over and over again.  So why not choose to make your self talk positive?  Use positive affirmations and you will be more empowered, make your dreams a reality and lower your stress.

Do You Quit When It’s Easy?

Have you ever noticed just how much a little thing can affect you?  It has to be a very specific little thing, probably something no-one else would even notice.  And yet, it gets to you.  Gets deep inside you and starts gnawing away.  And if you’re not careful, it can leave you feeling flat at best, or worse make you angry.

Language is very powerful as I explained in “The Mind Altering Power of a Word”.  The right words can whip a crowd into a baying frenzy of excitement, make individuals achieve more than they ever thought possible, invigorate or they can chastise, belittle and demean perceived subordinates.  And words can de-motivate. 

I believe that most people say what comes into their heads at a moment’s notice without giving much or even ANY thought to what it is like on the receiving end.  I often lock proverbial horns with my other half about a careless, even totally inaccurate word or phrase he’s used.  He has never needed to learn the subtleties of language for his career in the City and is certainly no loss to the Diplomatic Corps.

Nontheless, I don’t think I would have been so badly affected had I not felt tired this morning.

The porridge packet simply said “Easy to Open Tab – Just Pull Here”.  After I’d narrowly missed stabbing myself with scissors trying to lift the permanently glued tab, ripped a gaping hole in the side of the box and scattered handfuls of oats all over the counter top, I had to disagree somewhat with the manufacturer’s assessment of the box opening ease.

And this really is my point.  Just because YOU find something easy, doesn’t mean it IS easy.  It simply means YOU have the necessary skills to make you confident that you will be able to do that something easily.  But we all have different skills.  What I find easy, you may not.  Turning cartwheels is easy for an acrobat.  Speaking French is easy for a French National.  Riding a bike is easy.  LEARNING to ride a bike most definitely is not.

If you take the time to learn the necessary skill you will become more confident in more areas and over time, find more things easy. But don’t be fooled by thinking learning is ever easy.  It isn’t.

For everyone online, the words “easy”, “simple” and “just” appear everywhere. These words CAN be very destructive to maintaining a positive mental attitude if you don’t happen to have the precise skills needed to make the task simple. Be aware that whatever is said, YOU may need to LEARN new skills to complete the “easy” task.

So bear that in mind next time you see “So simple to use – my eight year old was up and running in just 5 minutes”.  Consider whether you actually have the same skills and today’s average eight year old before you take the plunge!  Don’t get downhearted.  Decide to keep your positive attitude.  You will need it to get over the learning curve!