By Gregg Sanderson
“The ways and means are available to me…The only question to be asked then is: ‘How much discomfort am I willing to sit with before I invite the answer to be revealed?’”—Dale Jukes
What single factor affects your personal health, your emotional well-being, and ages you before your time?
I’ll bet dollars to donuts (gluten-free) that every article in this magazine refers to it and suggests a solution.
Here’s a hint. You have full control over it, yet you’re often taught that the solution lies outside of you.
It goes by many names. Some call it suffering, some call it unhappiness, and some call it stress.
Many ways are offered to counteract the effects and reduce stress:
• Pray, meditate, or use Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to calm your mind.
• Explore counseling, therapy, and any number of effective disciplines.
• Exercise and take mood elevators.
• And let’s not forget our old friends sex, drugs, and rock & roll.
They all may help, but none seem to zero in on the single cause of discomfort, poor health, and unhappiness that we call stress. Obviously I will, so here we go:
Stress is the product of our common Stimulus —> Response paradigm. Something happens and you respond. Stressful Situation —> Stress.
Are you with me so far? Of course you are. Now we’re going to develop a new paradigm. I illustrate it with the analogy of Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame.
Quasimodo has a hunch about you.
Quasimodo has just one function. He rings your bell.
He could be your significant other, your boss at work, or your ex’s divorce lawyer. It might be a traffic jam, a tight work deadline, or something you see on the news.
Quasimodo represents anybody or anything that “rings your bell.”
Tintinnabulation, the sound of the bell, is the stress you feel when Quasimodo rings it. Some call it negative emotions, some call it suffering…No matter what you call it, it isn’t fun and it isn’t healthy. How can you stop the ringing?
You can shoot Quasimodo, but that might have unfortunate consequences. Perhaps it would be easier if you take the clapper out of the bell. Then the ole boy could dance on the rope all day long, and there’d be no tintinnabulation.
Now, what do you suppose that clapper represents? Think about this:
Why is a situation stressful? Because you NEED it to be different from the way it is.
Why is a job stressful? Because you NEED it to be different from the way it is. Why is a relationship stressful? Because you NEED your partner to be different from the way he or she is.
Why is your life stressful? Because you NEED to be different from the way you are.
Do you see a pattern emerging here? I know you do. It has something to do with NEED—what you MUST have to be happy. Our new paradigm now is Stimulus —> NEED —> Response. The NEED, not the stimulus, triggers the response.
Here’s how the new paradigm works:
- I am stress-free when I feel good about the way it is (the way you are).
- The less “the way it is” meets my need for it to be different, the more stress I feel.
- My emotional needs are “programmed” into me, and I can change them.
- When I do, I’m less stressful, healthier, and age more slowly.
Your needs are your unconscious beliefs about yourself and your world. They trigger every negative emotional reaction you have. They’re the clapper in your Quasimodo’s bell.
In our new paradigm, NEEDS ARE THE ONLY CAUSE OF STRESS.
When you understand this, you no longer have to change other people and situations to free yourself from stress. Just change those pesky needs into preferences, and life gets better.
You just have to be willing to do it.
That’s the hard part.
Gregg Sanderson is author of Spirit With A Smile, The World According To BOB. He is a licensed practitioner in the Centers for Spiritual Living, and a Certified Trainer for Infinite Possibilities. His earlier books were, What Ever Happened To Happily Ever After? and Split Happens—Easing The Pain Of Divorce. His latest project is the New Thought Global Network, where subscribers can enjoy the best in New Thought presentations from anywhere at any time. You can see it at http://www.newthoughtglobal.org.