Think about this for a minute: Stress is a habit!
I know. I know. You may think I’m nuts. You’re sitting here, reading this, and telling me that your stress is from being buried in work . . . or your crazy boss . . . or your kids driving you nuts . . .
I know how you feel.
I’ve been there, like the guy spinning plates on sticks. You spend your day putting out fires and trying to keep everyone but yourself happy.
But consider this . . . stress is an emotion. Actually, stress is a combination of several emotions working together.
What we call “stress” comes from the part of the brain called the amygdala. Otherwise known as the Lizard Brain.
Your Lizard Brain is designed to protect you from danger. When you’re about to be attacked by a lion, tiger, or bear, you don’t want to analyze your options. You need to move fast.
Your Lizard Brain also kicks in if you’re about to be run over by a bus. I kind of doubt many of us have faced lions and tigers and bears.
Most of your emotions are habits.
Like I said, stress is an emotion. And your emotions come from, and are stored, in your body. When you have an experience, you think a thought. Your thought creates a story about what the experience means. Your brain signals your body to create chemicals to make you feel the way you’re thinking. The way you’re feeling then signals your brain to keep thinking the way you’re feeling. Sounds confusing, right. That’s why I made you a graphic to illustrate how this works.
Then thing is that this same cycle of thinking and feeling will repeat itself every time you remember what happened. Every time you remember . . . tell yourself the story about what happened . . . you produce the same neurochemical response and feel the same feelings you had at first.
Your brain and your body react the same way to both real events and imaginary ones.
The more you tell yourself the story about what happened, the more your body wires neurons to keep you thinking and feeling the same way. This loop can be called a State of Being.
The end result is that your emotions are on autopilot. What you feel is now a habit.
You live most of your life on autopilot.
You get up on the same side of the bed. You go to work the same way. You see the same people. You go home. You watch the same shows on TV. You see the same people on Facebook.
The routine of your life doesn’t change much from day to day.
So you aren’t producing many new experiences to create fresh emotional responses. So most of what you feel each day is a habit.
So the stress you feel is a habit you’ve developed.
I first talked about this topic on a Facebook live. Brenda, my wife, reminded me that there are a lot of people living in stressful situations they can’t control. She knows a lot of women who are living with narcissists. They feel trapped and powerless to change their circumstances.
She questioned me about whether stress is really a habit for these people.
Stress is more severe for people living with emotional abuse. And no one should have to live in constant tension and abuse. But the way we experience stress is the same, and it is a habit.
You may be stuck and not able to get away from a stressful situation. But the way you feel and the way you deal with your stress is a habit. Or, you could call it a coping mechanism.
Here’s an example from my life this week
Every relationship has conflicts. And, in long-term relationships, the conflicts aren’t always about the issue you’re dealing with right now. You have history. You have emotional habits. You have hundreds of loops that are States of Being. All of these are just under the surface just waiting to come up when you’re triggered.
Sometimes you can see an argument about to start, and you already know what each of you are going to say and how you’re going to feel before you even start.
Here’s what happened:
Brenda made a comment, and I took it to mean that I wasn’t doing what she expected me to . . . like I was doing something wrong.
I reacted, and I responded from the feelings I had. But what she really said to me wasn’t what I heard. I even disregarded her tone of voice and added a few words she didn’t say. I had a State of Being loop running in my mind, and my response wasn’t about what she really said. It was And my response led to an argument.
Of course I didn’t realize any of this until after the argument was over. But it didn’t take too long. I’m learning how to catch these habit loops before they go too far.
Getting out of the habit of stress.
I wasn’t trying to get rid of my stress when I had my life transformation. I was trying to get over my subconscious blocks that were holding me back from success.
But the transformation I made went far beyond finding success. Living from the inside out has helped me get more done with way less stress. And my relationships are better . . . not perfect. But I’m headed in a good direction.
I’m still growing and getting better at living from the inside out. I started this process by learning to focus my mind and being aware of my States of Being.
One of the tools I used to start my transformation is free as an incentive for joining my email group. If you’re not part of this group, consider joining.
This tool is one that I still use on a daily basis to keep myself on track. To try it out only takes 5 minutes.
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