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Stress has nothing to do with the circumstances. Whaaat??

Chronic stress has become an epidemic; it affects almost everyone in the western societies. We are taught that stress is given and we just need to manage it and try to change those circumstances or “stressors” we can somehow influence. Everyone has their own coping mechanisms, for some it is exercise, for some alcohol, shopping, eating, meditation, etc. We want to escape stressful thinking and everyone finds their own way. Unfortunately, although we might experience a temporary relief, something usually triggers the stress again. Relief can only be temporary because stress is not caused by the circumstances and thus fixing those or getting relief outside is not going to help. Overwhelm and stress is coming from our thinking. As long as we don’t see it, we are trying to fix the wrong target.

Stress is one of my favorite subjects as I’ve experienced it so much myself and in my former job as HR Manager I saw it daily, leading sometimes to more severe outcomes such as burnouts. As I was also living in a misunderstanding about stress and the source of my feelings for over 40 years of my life, the moment I realized how the psychological system really operates, was a mind-blowing one.

The thing with the human mind is that our thinking wants eagerly take us away from the present moment. Personal thinking loves to take us to the future or to the past. Stress is very often caused by thinking about the future. All the things we need to do, deadlines, overwhelm of what still needs to be done, the anticipation of the coming difficult conversation, worry about failing etc. We all have our own personal thinking that causes us anxiety and worry. We project something to the future that will not even take place. And that consumes us completely. So we really think that it is the world that makes us stressed and tired when it’s our thinking that does that.

Because we tend to spend so much time in our heads, we don’t see the world as it is at the moment. If we would not spend our time thinking about past occurrences or future scenarios, what to do or what can happen, we would have full capacity at this moment. When a man is present in the moment, he normally does really well. When the mind is clear, fresh thinking can arise and new solutions can be found. This is the state that we often call flow.

We cannot usually see our own thinking or where it has taken us, especially because approx. 95 % of it is subconscious. But we can be aware of our thinking as we have a beautiful feedback mechanism in our body: we can notice our feelings and emotions. We can notice e.g. anxiety as it brings us an uncomfortable feeling and often many bodily symptoms such as insomnia, feeling of compression, an accelerated pulse, and breathing, etc. The feeling of stress is therefore only a symptom coming from our stressful thinking, and the correct diagnosis would be a misuse of mind, escaping from this moment.

And we have to understand that stressful thoughts will continue coming. Thoughts ebb and flow and we have no control over what will come up next. But after seeing the logic of the mind and how there’s no need to believe our thoughts, we can let them go more easily. We don’t have to stick with anxious thoughts as something new will pop up when we let the system operate how it is designed for. And that is what caused my chronic stress to disappear. It feels so silly to continue thinking about something that causes me to feel anxious. It really isn’t the circumstance that I’m experiencing.  How cool is that?? And to take one step further, the true freedom follows when you start to see that you are not only the one thinking but also the one observing your thinking. Or how else could you do that?

If you want to know more, drop me a message <3