Once the sources of stress are recognized, the next step is to overcome stress. The emphasis on stress in the last few posts is because of the toll it takes on us. It is estimated that as many as 80 percent of all diseases are due to the effects of stress, so overcoming stress is an important step in creating health.
Source of Stress –Event or Perception
Events are not stressful in themselves – the stress comes from our reaction to the event. That is why what may be an exciting challenge to one person is a stressful event to another. If stress is created within the mind, then the ability to overcome stress also lies in the mind. Changing your mind changes everything.
In his book Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist who spent much of the war in German Concentration camps, tells of the small number of prisoners who found meaning in their experience through their devotion to cheering and helping their fellow-prisoners. He wrote:
“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Faced by circumstances they were unable to change, these men chose their own way by changing themselves. When they changed the meaning of the situation from that of being in constant danger to being able to serve their fellow prisoners, they lost their fear.
Change Your Perception
All of us can choose our own way by seeing a situation in a new way. It’s possible to hold many different views of the same event – all of them true to some extent. First look at your current perception and see how it feels. What are your thoughts about this situation? What are your emotion? Is there a feeling in your body? Where and what is it like?
Then ask how else you could view this situation. Again look at your thoughts, emotions and physical feelings. Overall does this feel more comfortable than your original view?
Try a few different perceptions of this one situation and see which feels the most comfortable. What would you have to stop doing (say ‘no’ to) if you adopted this way of looking at the situation? What would you have to say ‘yes’ to? What new possibilities for action arise from this new view?
Choose one small new action you can take. An action could be looking at someone else in a different way or doing something differently. Then re-evaluate how you feel. Have you overcome your stress to any extent?