I’ve been writing about managing stress for some time now and the overwhelming question I get is;
‘theoretically this makes perfect sense, but how do I put it into practice?’
To be quite honest, this threw me. It turns out through aptitude and/or a weird personality and a lifetime of thinking about this stuff, I’m very different from most people. For me, once I get the idea, there is little gap before it changes the way I act and feel. So I needed to talk and work with lots of people to work out what needed to happen for them to take the idea and not just theorize about a concept, but become it.
I first wrote about the steps I took, unconsciously, to develop my ability in coping with stress. After my research, exploration and observation, this is my considered opinion on why people struggle with stress. I know it won’t be popular or what you might want to hear, but it could be the key that helps you to relieve your stress.
The Question To Relieve Stress
I always say that;
you can be right or you can be happy, but not both.
We talked briefly about this idea and emotional stress earlier, but it’s so important it’s worth recapping.
You see, we are all walking through life with an internal picture of what we think the world is like and also using our senses to notice if the world actually does match up to that image. And when these images don’t match up our world crashes, much like our computers sometimes freeze. The whole point of our internal model of the world is that it helps us to predict how people, events and things around us will act and react, so that we are able to operate in the world.
We live in the world much as Scientists work. We make a model, a hypothesis, of what we think is right, then as research verifies or disproves our idea, the world shows us our hypothesis was correct or not.
When the two images fail to match, we are thrown out because either we have to update our internal model of the world. This relates to being happy. Or we have to change the world to match up with what our mistaken mental model says it should be.
Insanity happens where someone lives completely according to their internal mental model without reference to the external world.
We get depressed when we see the two worlds are different and feel that neither can be changed.
Stress and frustration result when we notice that the two worlds are different, but we try to force or impose our internal template on the outer world.
Success, growth and happiness happen where we continually use the feedback we receive from the outer world to modify our inner model until they align.
Each Moment Is Only A Snapshot Of Where You Are On The Path Of Life
Every business starts out with an idea and a plan. But most studies show somewhere in the region of about 2/3’s lasting for five years. And many of these are struggling to survive and exist only due to the Owner’s determination and persistence.
Few grow to the heights that their Founder dreamed of without changing their ideas rapidly and often dramatically. It’s just not possible to develop a plan in your head that is robust enough to withstand all the possible dynamics that will affect it’s success or failure. Our heads just can’t contain all that information that would be needed to give us enough foresight. We have to be rapidly adjusting and responding to the feedback that Customers, Suppliers, Employees and our own statistics give us.
There is a fascinating book that details how some of the most famous businesses started out and how they drastically changed the course of their direction. For example, Paypal a way of sending and receiving money online began selling encryption services to combat online fraud. Flickr, the huge photo sharing web service developed out of an online game.
The point is that, the ideas you start with are just the beginning. They are like the lump of clay that the Sculptor uses as his starting block. It is the feedback that you get from the world that helps you to refine and sculpt the block into a work of art. The more sensitive and refined you get, the better the quality of your artwork.
An Inventor rarely builds a perfect prototype straight out of his head. He finds problems and barriers that he needs to improvise and overcome before it can come to fruition. As Einstein said, the solution must come at a higher level of thought than the problem. In other words the Inventor must evolve to a higher level of technical competence, the Artist, must increase her sensitivity and we must evolve to a higher level of living. Edison famously failed 10,000 times to invent an electric lamp, but he understood that each failure was a step towards the breakthrough that he needed to reach the level of understanding where he could succeed.
A Scientist sets out to investigate a field with a hypothesis. The starting hypothesis is almost never the final conclusion of any important and worthwhile study. In fact science never has a final conclusion because it understands that it’s role in the world is to continually evolve it’s understanding and that means refining it’s hypotheseses to greater and greater levels of clarity.
This is what the adventure of life is about. Evolving into greater and greater levels of clarity and understanding. Life is a dynamic, flowing energy. Yet by trying to have it fit in with our static notions, of how it should be, we place ourselves in conflict with life, rather than harmonising with it.
The Real Barrier To Relieving Stress
The problem is that people get confused about who they are and their place in the world. They come to believe that their beliefs and ideas about the world are a part of them. So when these ideas are criticised or turn out to be erroneous, they feel that they are a failure or a bad person.
There is a big distinction between a false idea and a bad or stupid person. However people get the idea that to be wrong with a theory also means wrong as in bad.
One of the reasons why I am able to resolve stress quickly and also learn quickly, is because I have almost no attachment to ideas. I have a very fluid mental structure. When I read someone’s ideas or talk to someone, mentally my thoughts shift into that pattern and in a sense, I psychologically become the ideas. So then I assimilate everything into my mental framework and then discard whatever parts life shows me don’t work. But I am continually ditching and adding ideas.
photo credit: eheçatzin:.
Edison, Einstein and so on could persist and explore because they were detached from their ideas. They knew a bad idea was a tool they used to develop an understanding and merely discarded it when it no longer had value to them. Ideas are tools of their trade, a stream that is continually updated and upgraded.
For most people though, beliefs are misunderstood and believed to be something fixed. A part of who they are. And so they are imprisoned in defending ideas that just don’t match up to the outer world and so they are condemned to a miserable existence, until they are prepared to let go of them. Here’s more about why people resist relieving stress
Advanced Stress Management Guide Contents
What Is Stress?
What Are The Costs of Stress?
What Are The Effects of Stress?
What Are The Causes of Stress?
How Do People Generally Cope With Stress?
The Mindset Shift: It’s Ok To Be Stressed, But Get Over It Quickly
The Secret To Emotional Stress Management
Reduce Stress And Avoid The Stress Tax
How To Deal With Stress
The Way To Relieve Stress
The Law Of Fairness
Pyrrhic Victory And The Value Of Losing