WHAT IS STRESS?
There is growing recognition within the healing professions that trauma (which includes stress and distress) is not only held in the mind, but it is also held in the body. Traumatic life experiences, whether physical or emotional are significant factors in the development and/or maintenance of most problems found in health care as well as dysfunctional relationships. It is now thought that 80-90% of requests for medical care are linked to the actions or consequences of the accumulation of stress/trauma on the human body.
It is also being discovered that Stress and it's "Many Faces" are caused by adverse experiences in our lives, but it is also the cause of most of the emotional, mental, financial and, even physical dysfunction in our lives as well. (refer to ACEs study)
Stress is often described as feeling tired, run-down, being overwhelmed or worried. Stress affects everybody in one way or another, some less than others, and we all have our own ways of handling it or dealing with it, some healthier than others. And, even though most people are aware that it can cause negative effects emotionally, mentally, and physically, very few people are aware to what extent stress can effect us over the long term.
Why do we all react with differently to so-called stressful situations and why are our symptoms usually different from someone else going through the same stressful situation such as taking a final exam or going for a very important job interview, etc.?
To clarify, we all have what is called a "stress response" when responding to certain stressful situations (also called the "fight, flight or freeze" response) which are all characterized by the symptoms of each phase, but we all have our own individual ways of responding to different kinds of stressful situations. Why? Interestingly enough, it has to do with the definition of stress.
Definition of Stress
Even though "stress" was first coined by Hans Selye, an endocrinologist, in 1936, the term was not clearly defined during his lifetime. The reason Stress has been so hard to define is because it didn't meet any single pattern of symptoms, causes and effects that scientists and diagnosticians love to provide to categorize illness and disease. It's symptoms, causes and effects are different for everybody for every situation. While one person may experience a lot of stress during a particular situation, another may experience very little stress or no stress at all.
Stress occurs when we have difficulty coping. Any event or stimulus that requires you to change in some way has the potential to cause stress. And, there's usually the sense of having little or no control regarding a particular situation.
The best definition of Stress I have found is that it is "a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that the demands of a particular situation exceed the personal and/or social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” So, even though everyone experiences stress each one of us experiences it in a different way to different situations depending on our own perception of how well we can handle various situations.
Therefore, Stress is in the "Eye" of the Beholder
It all comes down to an individual's emotional and psychological "makeup". Stress is specific to the perception of the beholder.
A situation that you find stressful may not illicit the same stress response in another person. For example, some students may complete their exams without feeling stressed, while others get test anxiety every time they take an exam and find it hard to cope.
One person studying for a math test could be experiencing little or no stress because that person is confident with their math skills, intelligence and study skills. However, another person studying for the same test may feel a lot of stress because he or she is not confident with their math and study skills and thinks they are not very smart to begin with. Who do you think is going to do better on the test?
Our perception is based on our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. Our thoughts were very much influenced by the feedback of the significant others in our lives as we grew up. So, how we handle stress today has a lot to do with how we were taught to handle stress by our caretakers earlier in our lives. But, all of that doesn’t even matter anymore because
Any situation that produces an emotional response has potential to produce psychological stress whether that situation is real or one that you perceive as real. If somebody feels that their boss doesn't like them, then that person is going to feel some stress if he or she is called to the boss's office, even if that boss ends up complimenting that person for a recent job well done.
In other words, our individual Stress depends upon how we perceive a particular situation depending on what I call our stress "signatures" which are developed in our earlier years from Adverse Childhood Experiences that cause us to have insecurities, self-doubt,
Everybody has a different stress "signature" because we all have had our own unique experiences in our own unique families and cultures/sub-cultures.
How is our "Stress Signature" created?
To get a better idea of how our stress signatures are created please refer to the illustration below:
This tree represents how the amount of trauma we experience in our earlier lives creates the “roots” of our emotional and behavioral dysfunction for the rest of our lives (if gone unchecked).
This trauma has been named our Adverse Childhood Experiences by the Adverse Childhood Experiences study being conducted by the Kaiser-Permanente group. This study that has been going on for the last 20 years and is proving to be very fruitful in it's findings regarding how our initial Adverse Childhood Experiences affect our lives negatively in all areas of our lives, including mental, emotional, physical, financial, relationships at home, work, socially can result in illness and disease and, even, early death.
From these distressful experiences come our negative thoughts, beliefs and perceptions about ourselves and the "world" we live in.
These negative beliefs branch out and create our negative feelings causing our Anxiety, Depression, Fear, Anger/Rage, even some of our Physical Pain, etc. The Leaves of the tree represent our dysfunctional behaviors, (i.e., overeating, drug/alcohol abuse, working or shopping too much, being a Perfectionist, a People Pleaser, etc., to mention only a few) which are attempts to cover up or avoid our negative feelings.
Our "Stress Signature" is created by our Adverse Childhood Experiences (the negative/dysfunctional experiences in our earlier lives). These adverse experiences are trauma, whether they are "Big T" traumas or "Little t" traumas. The more Adverse Childhood Experiences you had in your earlier life the more stress you will most likely have later in life.
Our early experiences in life create our perceptions, thoughts and beliefs
which then create our feelings and behaviors
Our perception is based on our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. Our thoughts were very much influenced by the feedback of our caretakers and the significant others in our lives as we grew up. To give you a better idea of what I mean, I'm going to use the "Behavioral Equation" below.
The Behavioral Process
[according to the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (C.B.T.) equation]
Your thoughts/perceptions/beliefs = your feelings = your behaviors
Positive experiences in our childhoods = positive perceptions/thoughts/beliefs = positive feelings = positive behaviors
throughout our lives
Adverse Childhood Experiences or negative experiences in our lives =
negative thoughts/beliefs = negative feelings = negative/dysfunction behaviors
throughout our lives if gone unchecked
Therefore, your thoughts/beliefs = your reality
So, if you start off with positive thoughts and beliefs you will end up with wonderful positive feelings and behaviors. And, if you start out with negative thoughts or beliefs you will end up with negative feelings and negative/dysfunctional behaviors.
All negative thoughts/beliefs come from the trauma
in our lives, either real or perceived
We are especially vulnerable to the trauma, distress and/or stress during our early years when our minds and emotions are still developing. Our negative thoughts, beliefs and feelings then become deeply entrenched and very hard to change at that stage.
And, these equations become self-fulfilling prophesies, which means that if you start off with negative thoughts and beliefs, no matter what you do, and no matter how much positive thinking you try to do over the unconscious negative thoughts/beliefs, you will always eventually will end up with those old negative behaviors and feelings.
In order to change these default feelings and behaviors you have to change your thoughts and beliefs. And, in order to do that you have to do more than try to force yourself to think positive thoughts on a conscious level. The change has to come from within your unconscious.
Since traumatic events (or Adverse Childhood Experiences) cause the negative thoughts and beliefs that then cause one's negative feelings and behaviors, the only way to change these thoughts and beliefs is to RELEASE the negative thoughts and beliefs by RELEASING the original trauma that caused the negative thought or belief to begin with. When you RELEASE these traumatic episodes from the psyche, the negative thoughts, beliefs and feelings created from those traumatic experiences are RELEASED as well.
Therefore, the negative feelings and negative behaviors
caused by those negative thoughts and beliefs
will also be RELEASED ONCE AND FOR ALL!
Are you Stressed Out?
Do you feel like you never have enough time to get things done at work or at home? Is this getting worse over time?
Do you get easily annoyed, irritated or angered lately? Do you feel others are asking too much of you?
Do you second guess yourself or tend to be self-critical? Do you feel nervous or anxious a lot of the time?
Do you have a hard time sleeping? Do you feel fatigued a lot of the time? Do you have problems concentration or have problems with your memory? Are you having any other physical problems?
Take the Stress Quiz to see how Stressed Out you are
According to The American Psycho-logical Association, the majority of office visits to the doctor today involve stress-related complaints, and stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
The good news is: you can easily let go of these conditions
with the therapeutic methods I use!!!
GIVE ME A CALL!
I WILL HELP YOU
TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE!