by Pamina Mullins
Remember as a child how you questioned everything—to the point where your
parents and teachers were tempted to duct tape your mouth? Why do I have to?
Where are we going? How do you know that’s true? Why can’t we do it differently? If I do this, why does that happen? Why, why why…?
And what we learned from the answers to these questions formed our map
of life. As we grow up, this unique map with which we analyze life forms our
“truth”. These “truths” shape everything we think, feel, say, want and do—and
how we solve problems—without our being aware of it.
These beliefs about who we are and how life works are formed by a complex
mixture of personal experiences, our culture, role models, what is imprinted
on us when we’re young, the behavior of our peers, what we’re validated and
rewarded for by our families, community and culture, our personalities and
what media influences we plug into.
So given all this input, we should get smarter as we mature—right?
Well why then as adults do we so often stop asking why; stop reaching out;
asking for support; questioning the information, answers and explanations
we’re given? When everything goes pear shaped and the sh*t hits the fan, the
only question we ask is why me? And then we implement the same old strategies,
while desperately hoping for a different outcome.
Staying in the same job and hoping the pay will increase, the people you work
with will change, or that you’ll get to like it eventually. Using the same financial
strategies that got you into a hole, hoping they’ll get you out. Going from
one dismal relationship into another—changing only the name and the face.
Living the same stressful lifestyle that is making you sick, ignoring your body’s
warnings and hoping you’ll wake up one morning miraculously stress free.
For many people stress is synonymous with weakness, punishment or
Stress is a valuable internal email! But we suppress or ignore it: delete it; mark
it as unsolicited spam or stash it in the trash file. We kill the messenger before
we’ve read the message. As the content is usually along the lines of battery low,
switch to mains immediately or run anti virus scan or upgrade software or realign belief
system, this is not a productive reaction.
What happened to those fluid, flexible, constantly evolving mental maps of the
world we had as children; that hunger to learn ways to do it better? When did
they solidify and become rigid assumptions we have no idea how to deviate
from? How did our beliefs become absolute, embedding themselves in our
psyches like leeches, limiting our ability to ask important questions, explore and
experiment with alternative ways in which to relate to the world?
What if you allowed stress to alert you to the fact that you’re resisting
something—standing in your own way?
Stress is a magnificent diagnostic tool for self discovery! This is what the stress
mechanism was designed for—a life saving alarm system. It’s why our puny,
hairless, and not-always-so-bright species has survived this long! Stress acts like
a virus scan—a threat (to your wellbeing) has been detected! It’s an invitation to reach
out and start asking questions again.
Why do many of us tend to swallow everything our minds are fed whole,
once we’re adults?
When you see something that looks familiar, hear something you recognize,
or read something that resonates with you, does it give you that yes—that’s right
buzz? Because it agrees with your previously installed programs, it reassures
you that you’re not alone; others agree with me, therefore I am part of the tribe. And so,
this sense of belonging draws us back repeatedly to familiar information. While
this kind of psychological thumb sucking is comforting, if we stick only to
familiar information, our beliefs become set in stone; we’re in an echo chamber
constantly reinforcing what we already believe.
These beliefs determine who we are, but sometimes we’re held hostage by
them. And the more insecure we feel, the more we cling to what’s familiar--
and fear that which is not. That’s why often when we’re stressed, we
instinctively isolate ourselves and take refuge in the perceived safety of these
fixed belief frames; surrounding ourselves with people who are in the same
But if you all have the same problems, who’s going to help you solve
For instance, if you undervalue yourself, the chances are you will unconsciously
fit your health, career, financial status, social life and relationships into this
belief frame—forming a self fulfilling prophecy, keeping you trapped in a
Even when you do have positive experiences and flashes of good fortune,
you will likely dismiss these as a fleeting aberration, hold your breath and wait
for the other shoe to drop. It isn’t stress that messes up our lives—it’s the
inflexible, outdated belief frames within which we try to solve our problems
that cause such unhappiness.
Just when we need most to step out of that belief frame so we can use our
creative problem solving skills to move forward, our insecurities draw us
magnetically towards influences that often compound the problem—instead of
offer fresh perspectives and creative solutions.
For instance, the media messages we choose to plug into….
Televisions are in almost every home on the planet; sometimes in every room
of that home; on trains and planes, in offices, shops and stations, waiting
rooms, hotels, restaurants and public transport. The problem with this visual
valium is that our primitive reptilian brain is incapable of distinguishing reality
from fiction. So it reacts to television or internet content as though it were real.
So you know what a repetitive focus on looming crises, domination,
exploitation, injustice, disease, atrocities, violence, tragedy and sensational
melodrama is going to do, don’t you? Make you feel powerless. You are now
living in a more or less constant state of fear.
This is how anxiety conditions develop.
There is nothing new about this. The messages are just more sophisticated and
insistent now. A trance state is induced by anything repetitive that neutralizes
our ability to think rationally. . Our beliefs have always been formed by the
hypnosis process—chanting, drumming, dancing, lectures or movies, mantras,
repetitive affirmations, prayers or visual images.
It’s as old as mankind.
It is used consciously or unconsciously by religion, parents, peers, educational
systems, con men, cults, the marketing industry, intelligence agencies and
politicians. We are exposed to these influences on a daily basis.
Depending on the content, it can also help us learn more effectively, master
a new language, relax, solve problems, overcome pain, trauma or destructive
habits, increase self confidence, attain success and wealth or make friends.
The first step towards becoming immune to stress is learning to ask
What if it isn’t true? If I put in different information, will I get a different result?
Constantly question your perceptions and beliefs about economics, politics,
religion, moral values, goals, health, truth, who you are, why you’re here, what
you want and where you’re going. Examine and expand the frames you choose
to live your life within.
Historically science and religion are littered with false assumptions, taught and
enforced as fact at one time. So are our everyday lives—the way we care for
ourselves and our families, how we solve our problems, the choices we make.
Much of what we accept as the truth is rooted in these false assumptions--
ones which may now be obsolete, and which severely limit our choices.
The prevalence of stress in our world is largely because our creative problem
solving skills have become stunted by inflexible or outdated beliefs. Oh, but I’m
not alone, almost everyone is suffering from stress you say.
Well just because there are millions of people suffering, doesn’t mean
there isn’t a better way does it?
We have a set of interconnected brain cells that form highways along which
messages travel. And in the same way that elephant paths are formed in the
bush, the more often they travel this highway, the more this route is hard-wired
into our brain.
Research shows that at any age or stage of life, human beings can forge new
brain highways. The brain’s designated neural connections are not fixed at
birth—nor are we destined to travel the same mental highways for life. These
neural connections can be modified and new ones can be built at any time.
When we use a different route, we reach a different destination.
After all, beliefs are simply a conclusion we came to, or something we
were repeatedly told, that we had no reason to doubt.
It’s comfortable because it’s familiar—we understand how to work within
its frame. But what if we use that zoom out facility; expand the picture many
times? What we believed to be ‘the truth’ may turn out to be only one small
corner of an infinitely larger, richer, more spectacular and complex picture.
Then we would have an infinite number of stress resolution tools at our
disposal, wouldn’t we?
Corporate & Personal Stress Management Consultant, NLP Practitioner, Life Coach, Hypnotherapist and
Author of Why Me? Stress Free You! Unlock Your Emotion Code and contributing author to Erica
Tucci’s Radiant Survivor and Modern-Day Miracles by Louise Hay and Friends,
Mobile: 00263 773 049988
00263 776 932665