Stressed Out? Consider Who is in Charge

What do you do when someone pushes your buttons? Are you tempted to lash out in anger and call the person a jerk? Or, do you maintain your cool, recognizing that they may have a very different view of the world? Indeed, they may be trying to help you.

How you react is largely a result of whom you believe is in charge. If you believe your happiness results from forces outside of yourself, then you give your power to external forces. The result is stress and feeling that you are a victim. If you choose to better understand your reaction, then you empower yourself. For example, you may choose to take a deep breath, focus the times when you felt loved, and look for good that may come from the event.

Stress is frequently seen as originating outside of ourselves. We believe it results from our friends and loved ones who get us upset, the weather, the economy, the food we eat, and the many demands of life. What we frequently do not see is that stress results from how we respond and think about an event, rather than from the event itself.

It is much more empowering is to recognize that stress is our creation than to believe it results from the outside world. Then we can look for techniques to calm our minds and undo the pattern that provided the context for the stress and change it.

For example, one pattern that actually has created a lot of stress is our belief that our happiness results from the accumulation of stuff. As a consequence we shop until we drop, run up a credit card bill, and get stressed out paying it off. When we recognize the forces that created it, such as the hidden patterns of belief, we can be thankful for the opportunity become aware of them, and change them. We can forgive ourselves for the belief and choose to simplify our life, finding the deeper happiness that comes from our relationships.

BOLA TANGKAS