I don’t know about you, but at least once a day I hear someone—and yes, some days that someone is me—say “I’m so stressed out!” or “I can’t handle this stress anymore.” It’s become such a common phrase that we don’t know exactly what it means; all we know is that it’s bad and we hate feeling it.
Webster defines stress as “…a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.”
Stress is Not External
I’m going to disagree and take a self-empowered approach to stress, because if stress is something that’s due to problems outside of us, that we have absolutely no control over, we’re powerless. Not to mention the fact that, a lot of the time, there’s nothing going on externally and yet we still feel stressed, worried or anxious. So stress is not created by or dependent on external circumstances; it is due to a mindset or belief that’s inside of us.
We have little to no control over external events; we do, however, have control over what we choose to think, believe and perceive, and we have the power to create change and experience external events differently. Taking responsibility for our stress vs. blaming it on someone or something else is where our power to feel better resides.
“I’m Not Enough”
Let’s talk about some stress-inducing thought patterns or beliefs. A classic is “I’m not _______ enough to handle what’s going on in life, work, etc.” You fill in your blank: “I’m not smart, strong, good, capable, thin, pretty, rich enough, etc.” It’s invariably some form of lack and it’s that belief in our lack that causes the stress, which is just another word for fear. We are afraid that we are not enough to handle the challenge that life is presenting us. We also tend to think of challenges as something bad, oftentimes going as far as thinking they’re some form of punishment for previous errors.
Make Challenges a Blessing
What if challenges are presented to hone our mettle and make us stronger? What if they’re there to show us how strong, resourceful, resilient, patient, creative, forgiving or loving we are? What if their sole purpose is to help us grow and evolve? If we could flip our perspective, realizing that challenges are a blessing, not a curse, we’d welcome them instead of dreading them. If we took that a step further and held the mindset, “I am _________ enough to handle what’s going on in my life, work, etc.,” there would be no such thing as stress or fear; they’d be replaced by a willingness to embrace the gift that the current challenge brings.
Easier than you Think!
You’re probably thinking, “Easier said than done.” And I say, “Easier done than you think.” You have been selling yourself short. Most of us do because we’ve fallen into the trap of believing the projections of other people’s insecurities, and it’s become a vicious cycle. Every time anyone expressed doubt in you, they were really expressing doubt in themselves—you just took it personally. Wouldn’t you feel differently if you knew that what people say is just a reflection of how they think and feel about themselves? How insightful would that be? Try it next time.
The next time someone expresses doubt or triggers your feelings of “not enough,” say to yourself, “Wow, they must be feeling very insecure right now.” You’ll actually find yourself feeling compassionate instead of deflated. The same works for any other thought or feeling. “Wow, they must be feeling very sad, angry, overwhelmed, confused, etc.” It’s a simple trick, but highly effective. As Ruiz says in his powerful little book The Four Agreements, “Don’t take anything personally.”
Find the Wonders of Who You Are
External circumstances are not the cause of stress – stress is caused by all the things we’ve taken personally throughout our lives. This means we CAN create change. With the help of hypnosis, which gives us access to all that negative and untrue programming, we can literally erase those negative imprints, and underneath them, find the wonders of who we are and what we’re capable of. And when we do, we look at ourselves and all of life’s challenges differently. In the future, when someone expresses doubt, we’ll feel compassion for their self doubt; we won’t take it in. We’ll know that challenges are unavoidable, but we won’t fear them anymore. We’ll know that we’re capable of handling them. We’ll know that they’ll teach us a lot, make us stronger, and that they, like everything else, will pass. And, because we’ll have a different mindset, our bodies will have a stronger and healthier energy, and everything will align for the betterment of ourselves and all concerned.
Lisa Zaccheo, MA, BCH, BC, is the owner, lead hypnotist and hypnosis instructor at Mind Matters Hypnosis Centers in Avon, Guilford and North Branford, CT. She is Board Certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists and has additional certifications in Complimentary Medical, Clinical, Child & Adolescent, Forensic and Regression hypnosis, just to name a few. For more information, or to schedule a lecture, workshop or appointment, call Mind Matters Hypnosis Center at (860) 693-6448 or visit MindMattersHypnosis.com.