What we are holding inside colors our world

Stress doesn’t exist.

Not out there in the world like we think it does.

Like most things in life, stress is an inside job. It’s a subjective, inner experience within our consciousness.

The reality is, the source of what we call stress is actually our body responding to what is held in our mind.

When somebody complains about how stressed they are, for example, that pressure is a choice. Internal states like skin temperature, perspiration, heart rate, brainwave frequency and cortisol level may not seem like choices, but whatever people are experiencing emotionally and therefore biologically, is the result of their perceptions and expectations and way of being with life.

It’s all a function of situational appraisal.

That’s why you can’t trust any of those annual nationwide surveys that examine the state of stress across the country. All of their data is entirely based on people’s opinions of what they find to be most stressful. It’s inherently biased. They’re surveying people who hold the belief that stress is harmful, which is precisely what makes it so.

Proving again, that stress doesn’t exist. Thinking otherwise puts us at the risk of being victimized by life rather than empowered by it.

As long as we believe that stress, this foreign entity that’s out there in the world somewhere, has the power to make us unhappy, then we are setting ourselves up to lose.

You probably work with somebody like this. The individual for whom stress is always occurring.

But could it be that their life is harder than anyone else’s, or could it be they see all relationships and interactions as a never ending competition?

Could it be that they’re cursed by the unseeing eye of a blind idiot god, or could it be they enjoy being the victim so much that calm is something they don’t reach for?

No, life is not objectively more stressful for that person. They’ve just decided to create in their world the conditions of that which is stressful.

Hawkins breaks it down in his seminal book on letting go:

To the fearful person, this world is a terrifying place. To the angry person, this world is a chaos of frustration and vexation. To the guilty person, it is a world of temptation and sin, which they see everywhere. What we are holding inside colors our world.

The radical solution here isn’t to eat our feelings or drink our troubles away or play video games until we’re properly zombified. The solution is to engage imagination and shift the baseline appraisal of our experiences. This can literally alter our physiology, from heart rate to cortisol level to blood pressure.

Whatever pile of shit life decides to throw at us, if we can learn to respond not only with acceptance, but also gratitude, optimism and love, then our stress level will plummet.

And we will learn that stress doesn’t actually exist.

Not out there in the world like we think it does.

What expectation are you holding inside that colors your world?


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