If you find yourself overwhelmed and stressed out consistently, you might actually be a victim of your own thoughts/decisions. There are many things that can cause stress, but here are eight things that can stress you out that you should simply ignore.
Commonly referred to as “da hatas”, these people will criticize you every chance they get. Especially when you try something a little different, or you dare to challenge the status quo. In a world where it’s easy to make Facebook friends, but not so easy to make real connections, it can be incredibly hard to “dump” your negative friends. In most cases, you can sort the problem out by ignoring their negative input, and if you realize that’s all they have to offer, ignoring them completely and stopping spending time with them.
Something that can be a rather overwhelming source of stress, is the prospect of the opinions of strangers. Typically this concerns people the most during high school, but many keep being haunted by this concept throughout their twenties, or even their entire lives.
Not only do the opinions of strangers not matter at all, it’s unlikely they even care enough about you to make up one about you. Sure they may look at your fancy suit, and your fancy car, and think “he seems rich” or “oh great, another wealthy douche moved into my neighborhood” but it’s unlikely they’re going to dwell on you for any amount of time after that.
You can take solace in the fact that even if you’re about to speak to a large group of strangers, no matter how badly you flop, they will likely forget about you completely at some point during the next hour. Another thing that can help to remember, is that the most visible parts of our society are the extremes, the very best, and the very worst. Sure the only speeches you see online are either amazing or mindblowingly terrible and hilarious fails, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t millions of average speeches in buried in there somewhere.
This can be a tough one, as your parents will often use the “life experience” card, and many times rightfully so. (Other times they are just plain wrong.) But even if they are right, in life, it’s important to have your own failures and reach your own conclusions, not always simply receiving and following guidance from “more experienced individuals”. Don’t let what your parents think you should be doing stress you out while you’re out there doing what is best for you at this time.
If they are always on your case, and getting in the way of your work/project/studies, you can always let them in on your secret (fake or real) back-up plan to do what they want you to do, if your current endeavor fails.
If you’re doing any kind of creative work, it’s easy to get stuck, never feeling quite ready to release it, or move on to the next project, because it’s “just not right.” Ira Glass describes this problem as “the gap”, between how you feel good creative work should be, and your current ability. Watch this video to help you overcome this tendency.
And if you’re stressed out about not being the person you want to be, don’t. Nobody is their own ideal person. Even the greatest people you can think of had their own flaws. Either you learn to accept them, or you choose to slowly tackle one area at a time, and focus your energy towards improvement rather than worrying.
Or if you’re one of those people that have a 100% clear idea of what your perfect partner looks like.
Sometimes things are difficult. Sometimes you keep running into barrier after barrier after barrier, and you can’t seem to get into any sort of acceptable pace. Instead of focusing on the barriers, and indeed, expecting more of them and letting that stress you out, focus solely on the process of overcoming them and learning from every experience. Instead of getting stuck in an “Oh God why did this happen again??” pattern of thought, instead immediately think “How can I overcome this problem? Have I run into a similar problem before?” And focus your energy on moving forward.
It’s funny how your expectations of something stressful happening can be almost as stressful as something stressful happening. And while it’s healthy to remain realistic, and be open to possibilities, it’s counterproductive to remain overly focused on worst-case scenarios you cannot prevent or do anything about, as it will only cause stress and is unlikely to yield any valuable insights. Instead quickly consider a few things that could go wrong where countermeasures are available, take the countermeasures and move forward.
Another thing that can cause stress, is expecting something to go well, or a certain way, only to experience that it doesn’t. For everyday matters, it can be better to try to expect nothing, or as much of a neutral result as possible, and focus on enjoying the process instead.
Now don’t get me wrong, a certain amount of self-critique is necessary to remain sane. But after a point, it can not only become a dominant source for stress, it can lead to a downward spiral towards depression. While having the self-insight to realize when you’ve messed up is good, things start to turn bad when you dwell on those mistakes, and then infer that you have some deep character flaw that is causing you to make this mistake, and similar ones, earlier. Of course, the second you start believing that this character flaw exists, it becomes more and more apparent, (as it becomes easier and easier to use it as an excuse to make bad choices). The most obvious example is laziness. Half a generation is crippled by their self-affirmed belief that they are too lazy to go out and actually do things. And because they’ve told themselves so many times, it’s no longer debatable. You can’t even suggest to these people that they have the potential to change, because it’s simply “part of who they are”.
Thankfully, avoiding this is rather straight forward. When reflecting on mistakes, accept the blame when the fault is yours, but don’t try to conceptualize the flaws in your character that lead to this mistake. And always remember to challenge any negative conclusions you reach about yourself. If you find yourself thinking “I’m just lazy!.” Simply ask this: “Am I really? Has there never been a time when I have proven to be the exact opposite?” It can be hard to stay objective when you’re in a bad mood, but give yourself some time. Think of a few examples and avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy of “laziness”.
If you feel that you’re too stressed all the time, it can become a source for more worry and stress. Some studies even suggest that the adverse effects of stress come mostly from the belief that stress is harmful for you. (Watch this video.) So if you have a rather stressful job, or life in general, learn to welcome it as a boost of energy, to join hands with it and become friends, and you will not only likely feel less stressed/worried in your free time, but you can reduce the negative health effects that many associate with prolonged periods of stress.
Although there are many more things you can obsess over and stress yourself out, I think we’ve established a few ways you can deal with this tendency and reduce your stress through conscious choices, and conscious thoughts.
Featured photo credit: Stefan Neuweger via flickr.com
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