When I talk about stress I mean all these feelings that come as ‘entourage’ of thoughts of worry, fear, anxiety, and all forms of obsessive thinking. Most people, when they think about it, see that their feelings are directly connected to their thoughts – thoughts about circumstances and events people consider worthy of feelings of worry, fear, or anxiety.
The next question I often hear is “How can I stop them?” quickly followed by some ideas how to think positively, to go for a run, meditate, do DBT or EFT, mindfulness, or some other interventions depending on what ideas people are leaning towards. The idea is – and it is a reasonably good one – to change the problematic thought. Think positive, reframe, meditate, or go for a run, to name just a few. However, as most people know, today’s problem is quickly replaced by tomorrow’s dilemma … and so on, and so on …!
Let me draw your attention to the sinking boat. The boat is sinking because it is taking on water and all the above mentioned ‘good ideas’ are most certainly doing the job of getting rid of the water (the current problem). Tomorrow will be another day and the problem will be work, neighbours, or your mother-in-law. This needs to be equally dealt with. These interventions and change strategies are like the bucket with which people can bilge out the boat. However, every boat owner will tell you, you want to fix the leak – or you are doomed to bucket-out the water (having problems) for the rest of your life.
To fix the leak you actually don’t have to do anything – all that is needed is understanding that you are the thinker, you are the person who created the feelings through your own thinking – and you have the ability to choose from an unlimited pool of thoughts to focus on. Once you understand that your feelings are a response to your thinking about the circumstances but are not caused by the circumstances itself, you get a more helpful perspective.
As I am writing this I am looking at my dog Oscar. He lies on granddad’s chair and watches the sun light dancing through the window. He has beautiful, soft fur, a lovely velvety snout, and the most gently eye’s I have ever seen. A warm fuzzy feeling of love and affection washes through me.
My feeling is very different when I think about the trouble it is to find a kennel for him, what a nuisance it is that we can’t just get up and go away for the weekend, when I wish he would be quiet instead of barking at every cat that comes even close to our property, … and don’t let me think about the vet bills … In those times the feeling of love is just a distant memory.
Does that sound too simple to you? My hunch is, it does. In my seminars at Raeburn House people explore usually all the ins and outs of this. “What about if someone holds a gun to your head, everyone would be afraid” is heard a lot. We then come to understand that no matter the circumstance, people always, 100% create the feelings they have. Even though it takes a bit to get used to, it is ultimately a great relief, because it puts people in control of their lives to an extent many never thought possible. Check out the No More Stress seminar at Raeburn House! This term’s seminar is booked out but it will be repeated next term. Make sure to put your name down for it!