Statistics show that the majority of adults experience high levels of stress on a regular basis. What exactly is stress? According the dictionary, it is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Stress is a mind/body event. It challenges the body and our internal sense of peace.
There are positive forms of stress called Eustress which are motivating, inspiring, or exciting forms of stress. Then there is Distress which is the exact opposite. This is the stress that most people think of and that can be harmful to us physically and mentally.
Most of us believe that events are the source of our distress. That if certain conditions weren’t present, we could feel better and be happy. The problem with this thinking is we have limited if any control over external circumstances. We cannot control how others act or what is happening in the world around us. What we can control is how we respond to the external world.
It is our mind that changes with circumstances and causes the emotional roller coaster most of us live on. An unpeaceful life is caused by an unpeaceful mind. I know that as you read this your first reaction is to deny it and say, “I am unhappy because of ……” There is no denying that there are external catalysts to your unhappiness. No one is saying that it is easy to be peaceful in the face of adversity.
The good news is that if the cause of the emotional roller coaster is in your mind that means you can learn to control how you feel! No one is saying it is easy to do, but it is possible.
Remember feelings are temporary. They are like clouds in the sky. If you can learn to observe them without being attached to them, you can learn to let them float through you like clouds passing by. When you hold on to our feelings and keep them alive by retelling the story or reliving the circumstances that caused you pain, you keep the feelings alive.
With practice you can learn to observe your thoughts and feelings and allow them to flow through you. You have the power to change your thoughts to ones that better serve you. You are more than just your circumstance and your thoughts. You can choose to stop giving energy to those thoughts that cause distress.
When I think about the power of our thoughts, I think about Nelson Mandela, an exception and inspiring man. How could he emerge after 27 years in prison to become the president of South Africa? How could he forgive and even invite the prison guards to attend his inauguration and sit in the front row? He chose to focus on forgiveness and peace even when surrounded by the opposite. Because he chose to think positive, he behaved in positive ways. We all have the ability to change our thoughts which changes our feelings, whatever the external circumstances.
We can notice our thoughts and stop the ones that are not moving us toward a happier more peaceful life. You do not have to live your life on autopilot. You can take control. You deserve to be happy.
If you are struggling in this area, reach out to me for assistance. You do not have to continue to struggle alone. I am here to help.
Lori Ann Davis, MA, CRS
Certified Relationship Specialist