Stress Is In The Mind

Your thoughts, feelings, behaviours and psychology are all inter-related and one cannot be changed without affecting the others. These facts, suggest that by monitoring and controlling your thoughts you can manage stress better.  Most people associate stress with the physical discomfort of headaches and chest pain not realising that the stress reactions were triggered by their thoughts.  If I have instructed you to feel stressed and anxious right now in that moment without any reason at all, you would have a hard time complying, as it is impossible to feel stressed without having a thought first.  In fact, cognitive psychologists argue that we cause our own stress by making common thinking errors.

A thinking error could be defined as an irrational thought that causes negative emotions to surface and drive people to behave self-defeating ways and experience high levels of stress.

Here are some of the most commonly occurring thinking errors:

All or nothing thinking’ or black and white thinking is considered to be one the widely apparent errors.  It is wise to remind yourself that life is never black and white and start introducing the shade of grey.  It is for example, not possible to be a complete failure. You might have failed at a certain task but it does not mean that you are a failure. 

How can you recognise if you are an ‘all or nothing’ thinker? You know that you are thinking in terms of black and white when you use words, such as ‘always’ and ‘never’. 

If you hear yourself say, something like ‘I always miss my deadline’ or ‘I will never be successful’,  then think again!

The best way to introduce a more positive and constructive way of thinking is to use phrases such as ‘I might’, ‘I sometimes’,  ‘I am often’, ‘There is a possibility’ and so on. For example:

‘I might be successful one day’, ‘There is a possibility that next time I will not miss my deadline’.

One of the other most common errors is Mind reading. We all do it. We make assumptions about people and situations without being aware of the facts.  Somehow, we get ourselves into a state by starting to assume that people are focusing on our faults, mistakes, and shortcomings.  We infer that people think negatively about us without having any evidence for this conclusion. I cannot emphasise enough how destructive mid reading is.  People literally worry about nothing, as there is often not a shred of evidence that support their beliefs.  So, please do yourself a favour and stop assuming that you know what others are thinking.

Focusing on the negative aspects of life is equally destructive. It might be a cliché but is true; every cloud has a silver lining.  Placing your focus solely on what is wrong with you  and your life set you up for worry, despair and of course, stress.  Negative thinking put you under the thumb of life’s circumstances.  You become trapped by your own mind as it gradually persuades you that you have no choices and trap you in a life you do not want to live.  You find yourself worrying about everything and suddenly your whole life is crumbling before your eyes and slowly you become the victim of life.  But, hey,  this is all just in your mind! You have the power to take control of your own mind and with that your life. Life does not have to be stressful and difficult.  Ok, so  you might have been given lemons but add a bit of sugar and start making lemonade. 

It is time to take account of all the good things in your life and all the things that are going right, all the people who love and care about your and all the good qualities you have. I encourage you to get a piece of paper right now and start writing down all that is right in your life right now. 

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