The Real Cause Of Stress
We all know the terms stress, depression and anxiety. Most people believe that stress is always bad and that depression and anxiety can be debilitating. And oftentimes, that’s the extent of their knowledge.
Over the years, I’ve heard people from all walks of life tell me, “Okay I get it, stress can get very bad, but hell, I still don’t know what to do about it. I’ve used relaxation techniques and they just don’t work! I have bad mood swings; I’m always tired and I just don’t like my life. I give up.”
The One-Size-Fits-All Approach Does Not Work:
One of the main reasons that treating stress doesn’t work is because those who treat the condition fail to recognize that even though the cause of stress is basically the same for everyone, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for the majority. A clear example is that not everyone suffers from stress because people have a way of reacting to their environment that is unique to them. Not everyone has learned to deal with their environment in the same way which means every person must have their therapy or self-help process fit their individualized learning/suggestibility type.
To get a handle on stress you must first understand the concept of overload, specifically what I call Subconscious Takeover Syndrome (STS) – the kind of overload that leads to stress which in turn can lead to depression and anxiety.
First Let’s Talk Brain Power:
Let’s begin with the basics. We’re born with a primitive mind, one that does anything it can to help us survive in our environment. It doesn’t know the difference between right or wrong and it possesses no logic or reasoning.
During the first few years of life we develop another mind, our conscious mind, that contains two powerful abilities, logic and reasoning, which is about 10% of the power of our mental capacity. The theory that the conscious mind makes up only 10% while the subconscious mind is 90% has been proven over and over to be the case throughout history.
For example, if you consciously walked over to the rear end of a car and tried to lift it off the ground, you would not succeed. But there have been cases of people in extreme emergency situations exhibiting incredible physical strength, like one woman picking up one end of a car that fell on her son while he was working underneath it.
How Stress Develops :
Twenty-four hours a day your mind is being fed what I call “message units” from your environment and from your own body and thinking process. Everything you come in contact with feeds message units to your brain: everything you see, hear, smell, taste and feel (physically and emotionally):
Your clothes touching your body.
Your butt as you sit in a chair.
Everything you are thinking.
All the information, news and ads, on television, radio, and social media.
What you think people are thinking, etc.
One “Message Unit” too Many :
Say your mind can only handle 1,000 message units per second. And let’s say today is bad day.
You just got another bill you can’t pay.
Broke your arm and need it treated.
Forgot tomorrow is exam day at school and you didn’t prepare.
Prices on just about everything are going up.
Someone cut you off on the freeway and flipped you the bird suggesting it was your fault.
Now you’re taking in 2,000 to 3,000 message units per second. When you’re overloaded, your conscious mind, with it’s logic and reasoning, becomes overwhelmed so your subconscious mind tries to compensate. It tries to protect you from what it perceives is danger and prepares you for fight or flight. The adrenaline, cortisol and other chemicals in the body are there for good reason. They can help you by increasing strength, speed and focus in an emergency. And if the overload isn’t dealt with, the constant flow of these chemicals, even though natural, can result in damage to the body and mind.
You’ve heard about the proverbial sabertooth tiger back in cavemen times triggering fight or flight. But this is modern-day; there are no sabertooth tigers. We have traffic jams, lost jobs, aggravating politics, not making enough money, too many damn TV commercials during your favorite program and on and on.
So now when you become overloaded with too many message units and there is no tiger to fight or run away from, what do you do? Well, you can’t just instantly fight or run away from not having enough money, so your subconscious mind tries to protect you by completely suppressing the urge to run or fight. This turns unfulfilled fight into stress and anxiety, while the unfulfilled urge to run away turns into running deeper into your mind, essentially hiding, with nothing but negative feelings. This is depression. And all of those extra negative message units, in addition to your normal ones, simply compound the problem. Then what happens? Drinking and drug problems, high blood pressure, heart attack, strokes, and/or emotional problems.
In the days of the caveman, if you were successful in combating the sabertooth tiger or escaping it, things could pretty much return to normal. But how do you beat up or run away from the high cost-of-living without comparable salary increases?
Understanding how stress develops and using unique stress reduction tools that fit you as an individual can be very effective in preventing stress from occurring or reduce it if fight or flight has been activated. Go to jbartell.com to find out more about your learning/suggestibility type.