Where does your stress come from?
Think about it for a second. If you had to say, right now, where the stress in your life comes from, what would you say?
Would you say it comes from work? Your relationships? Your financial situation? Your health?
Whatever your answer right now, it boils down to the same thing: your stress comes from the outside. From the people, situations, and problems in your life.
So to deal with your stress, you have to deal with your problems, right? You have to fix the things that are broken, come out of the situations that are hurting you, and win against the people that are in your way.
But you’ve been doing that for your entire life, and you’re still stressed. One thing ends and another thing begins, and on and on you go on this emotional roller coaster.
And what’s interesting is that even as the problems in your life change, the quality of your stress stays the same. All it takes is for the next thing to happen and you find yourself back in the same pattern, thinking the same thoughts, feeling the same feelings, doing the same things.
Why is that? If your stress comes from different things, shouldn’t it feel different every time? If you’ve overcome something once, shouldn’t it feel easier the next time?
So why doesn’t it? Why doesn’t your stress get any easier?
Because you haven’t really found its source.
Your stress doesn’t come from the outside, but from something within you. The things that happen in your life aren’t the cause of your stress, but its symptoms.
When you try to resolve the problems in your life without addressing the deeper cause of your stress, you’re squashing out symptoms without dealing with their source. You take out one symptom, just to have another one take its place. Dealing with your stress becomes exhausting, repetitive and ultimately futile.
How can you break out of your stress pattern?
Recognizing your stress pattern is the first step.
The writer Anaïs Nin once said, “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.” If you understand this quote, you understand the most important thing about yourself and your stress.
What you think is happening when you’re stressed isn’t really happening. Not entirely. Your inner experience is distorting your perception in some way. It’s magnifying certain things and filtering out others, so that the situation fits into your stress pattern.
That’s why no matter what problem you’re dealing with, the pattern of your stress stays the same.
Breaking out of your stress pattern doesn’t mean that you’ll never feel anxious or sad again. It doesn’t mean that you become impervious to hardship and pain. That you’re somehow always happy and content, no matter what’s going on in your life.
Breaking out of your stress pattern means seeing the situations in your life as they really are, responding to them appropriately, and letting them go once they’re done.
But before you can begin to see situations for what they really are, you have to understand how you’re not seeing them for what they are.
What are you magnifying?
What are you minimizing?
What are you inventing?
What are you ignoring?
To answer these questions, you have to understand your inner experience.
What is your inner experience?
Your inner experience is a kind of sensation that permeates and colours your entire existence. Everything you say, think, feel, do, every dream you have and even your physical pains, are expressions of this single experience. Every part of you, when taken to its deepest level, leads back to this experience.
Your inner experience is what exists at your core.
This means that your inner experience isn’t caused by anything. It doesn’t make sense, and isn’t something you can justify. It’s a largely subconscious experience that is unique to you, and that you continually manifest throughout your life.
It’s not who you are, but rather what you experience.
Once you become aware of this inner experience, you’ll begin to see how it shows up in every part of your life. You’ll notice it again and again in your stresses and conflicts. And just by noticing this pattern, you’ll be able to break it.
What fuels your stress is believing that your fears and anxieties are real. When you can see that they’re not, they stop having power over you.
But believing that your fears and anxieties are not real just through sheer will is almost impossible. You can keep trying to tell yourself that they’re not, but without any proof or understanding of how they’re not, you’ll feel like you’re lying to yourself. You’ll feel doubtful and uncertain, and will find yourself pulled back into the same pattern whenever your emotions get involved.
When you learn to recognize your inner experience, you won’t have to believe anything blindly, or convince yourself of something that doesn’t align with what you’re experiencing. You’ll see for yourself what’s real and what’s not, and you’ll make choices based on that, with confidence and clarity.
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