Main Cause of Stress
Many people are quick to list things like difficult bosses, horrendous traffic, and not enough money as their main causes of stress. But, be assured those events are not the culprit. These situations appear as obvious trigger points, so it's easy to think they are the cause.
If a particular event was stressful in itself, every person who experienced that event would be equally stressed. That is obviously not the case. The events are just the top level indicators... we must keep digging.
Exploring the next level, you find that every event that seems to cause stress shares a common quality inherent within it. Everyone generally agrees that all events that trigger stress are challenging! Having discovered that, many people will stop their search for further meaning, believing that what causes stress is challenges. Well yes, and... no :)
If you want to successfully manage stress, you must continue your search for the underlying, main cause of stress.
Again we ask, "why does not everyone that encounters the same trying event suffer from stress?" The answer you find is that the manner in which people process the challenge will reveal whether or not they experience stress from it. Some people indeed foster thoughts and beliefs that lead to a peaceful happy life, while others cultivate turmoil.
Because stress symptoms are so rampant in society many people consider stress inevitable. They don't think that there might be other ways to see the world, and a way to live in peace. I invite you to explore this further, as I can guarantee that there are indeed ways to do so, and they make so much sense! If you haven't already read the article 'what is stress for', this might be a good time to do that.
The main cause of stress rests with the individual... within their individual thought processes. The degree to which you suffer from stress is based on what's going on in your very own head.
The good news is, because you are a thinking human being, you can learn new things and change your thoughts, understanding and therefore, your core beliefs. You'll then have more experiences of eustress, or positive stress than distress.
You can cultivate successful stress management techniques and achieve peace of mind.
Main Cause of Stress: Event Plus Interpretation
There are three main aspects of your thinking process that highly impact whether or not you will interpret a challenging event as stressful. Grasp these and you will be well on your way to knowing how to relieve stress effectively.
- Frame of reference
- Personal core values and priorities
Here is a simple example to illustrate the mind at work as the main cause of stress. Calling on the 3 mitigating factors, you can see how they can vary from person to person, and create different outcomes:
Consider... arriving in a foreign country with a close companion. Neither of you have ever been there before. You both speak the native language and you have the address and a map to get to your hotel. You jump into a taxi cab and are 15 minutes into the journey when you realize the driver has missed an important turn. You will now be spending more money on the fare, and taking longer to arrive.
One of you gets very upset, complaining about the service and the expense.
The other is busy saying "it is no big deal. The few extra dollars is part of the expense of being a tourist... just relax and enjoy the detour."
What causes stress for one person may not even register a blip of strain on the radar for another person.
Let's look at how this example can help enlighten us on the main cause of stress for people. Let's ask "what's possibly happening differently in the mindsets of these two people that react differently?...
You attribute meaning based on your frame of reference
- If you feel stressed it may be that you had previously felt that you had been ripped off by an unscrupulous taxi drive
- If you did not feel stressed, your past taxi rides may have led you to fun and serendipitous events
You attribute meaning based on your priorities and personal core values
- The stressed persons priority may be on only spending a specific amount of money on this event
- The non-stressed person may be more flexible with their finances
You attribute meaning based on your beliefs
- The stressed person may believe that life is difficult and full of mistakes and this is another irritating example
- The relaxed person may believe that whatever happens is an experience that offers them insight and opportunity in some way
Individual responses to potentially stressful events vary greatly. Because of this you can be certain that it is not the challenging events that are the main cause of stress, rather it is how you think about the event and process it that determines how you will feel about it and respond to it.
The Real Root Cause of Stress
At some level, the worrying thought process causing distress comes down to a basic concept... you are not happy with reality. In fact you seem to be arguing with it and trying to fight it!
You might think you want a situation to be different than it is or you find it disturbing that it's not going 'your way'... this creates stress. Taking a fighting stance against reality is a sure way to put yourself under pressure.
You might think that if you accept what is happening, then you are condoning it. That is not the case. There is much you can do to deal with what is happening even when you do accept reality. And there is also much you cannot do.
Your responsibility is to gain understanding about the main cause of stress for you... what's going on in your mind? And then explore the potential, and the differences between what you can and cannot do, get to know your mindset of peace in any circumstance, and then be certain that peace is the best resting posture you can strike.
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