Self-Created Stress: What is it? Where does it originate? 

by Kevin Stacey

© 2002  TrainRight, Inc.
http://www.Time-StressManagement-Training.com

What is it?

I’ve traditionally been an expert at creating my own stress. Simply said, self-created stress is making things worse than they have to be. Blowing things out of proportion, jumping to conclusions, imagining worse case scenarios, overanalyzing, and wasting energy on things that are counterproductive are just a few examples of self-created stress. I’m not saying that there aren’t big things and real problems in life to stress over. Coping with a tragedy, suffering a loss, having a sick family member or experiencing a financial crisis are all things that rightfully deserve our concern. But do you ever notice that with the major events, or the life altering experiences, we show amazing courage and grace? We ask for help and reach out to our support systems, and most of the time we get that support and we persevere. But what makes our day-to-day lives less fulfilling than they can be, and eats away at us and the quality of our lives is making big things out of things that really are small and creating stress out of ordinary life events. If you could just eliminate this self-created stress, wouldn’t that increase the quality of your life tremendously? 

Where does it originate?

I often ask my audiences if they believe stress is mental or physical. It’s an interesting question. If said I was up all night with worry and concern, would that be mental or  physical? Certainly, it would be both, but the key is that  it’s always mental before it’s physical. It starts in the mind, and ends with the physical effects on our bodies, such as  insomnia, high blood pressure, ulcers, and headaches, to name a few.  

If we want to reduce our self-created stress, we need to focus our efforts on our minds and thoughts. We are used to thinking of stress as originating from outside of us, from external sources. In reality, it’s not the events or stimuli in life that cause us stress it’s our response to those stimuli and how we internalize them. 

As William James, who is considered by many to be the father of modern psychology, said: “Thinking is the grand originator of our experience.” 

What this means is that you can’t feel anything unless you think it first. If you were in an acting workshop and you were asked to get an angry look on your face, you’d first have to think about something that makes you feel angry. Even if you’re in grieving over a major loss, you’ll notice that the times when you feel sad are the times when you’re thinking about your loss. There is a medically proven mind body spirit connection, and every thought that we have has a physical reaction in our body. Imagine that feeling responds to thought at the speed of light. The moment the thought “I’m unattractive” passes across the screen of your mind you instantly feel depressed. So, if you want to change how you feel, you must change what your thinking about and focusing on.

About the Author

Kevin Stacey helps companies and professionals achieve maximum productivity and effectiveness through stress management and time management training.  He is available to speak on these topics.  For more information visit http://www.TrainRightInc.com or call 1-800-603-7168.

© 2002 Permission is granted to reprint this article in print or on your web site so long as the paragraph above is included and contact information is provided to reprint@TrainRightInc.com   Thank you.