Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Self-Imposed Stress

Focus: Personal Productivity, Managing Stress, Personal Success   

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Self-imposed Stress
Wc: 510
Read time: 1-2 mins.
Transcript - print now 

Our bite-size audio lesson is introducing the concept of “ self-imposed stress.” As I’ve been speaking with people about this topic, it’s become very clear to me that the majority of our stress is self-imposed.
Well, what do I mean by that? More specifically, much of our stress comes from what goes on in our mind. In fact, how we interpret an event and the meaning that we attach to the event can actually cause us negative stress by the way, whether that interpretation or that meaning is true.
Here’s an example. I have a friend who’s recently divorced and decided to throw herself out there into the dating scene. She’d come back from a date one night and we were having a conversation around the fact that the person that she’d gone out with did not ask her for her number. Now, she didn’t ask him for his either but that’s not the point here. 
So as we were having the conversation about it, I asked her, “So, what do you think it was?” And she went down a list of the following, “Well, maybe I didn’t have the right hair color. Or, you know, I do need to lose a few pounds.” By the way, she looks awesome, but in her mind, she needed to lose a few pounds.
“I don’t know, maybe I have kind of an aggressive personality cause I’m in business.” And I’m thinking to myself, the bottom line is, she has no idea of why he didn’t ask for her number. In fact, it could have been nothing about her. 
He could have been having a bad night.  He could have been sick. He could have decided that he wasn’t ready to move forward with dating at all. There could have been a variety of reasons that had nothing to do with her.
But, she did choose to add some negativity, to interpret that event negatively. What did that cause? Her to feel bad, it caused some self-imposed stress. So, number one, she did that and, number two, she attached meaning to it.
Here’s what the meaning was, “I don’t know, maybe I’m not dateable. Maybe, I don’t know, maybe I’m not going to be able to find someone. You know, maybe I’m getting too old to date.” She began to apply meaning to the one act of someone not asking her for her phone number.
Boy, that can have significant consequences because that could cause her not to initiate going out and finding the great guy or having a great time on another date. And, she could continually be running that self-talk and continually causing more and more pain days and weeks and months after the event. That’s self-inflicted pain.
I would encourage you to be aware of how you interpret events, how you attach meaning to circumstances. Remember, just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true. You know, if we’re going to acquire more levels of happiness, this is something we need to be aware of and master.

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