‘We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.’ – Carlos Castaneda
A stressor is a phenomenon that creates a stress response. These are people, events, memories, and subconscious triggers.
And, as always there are bad news and good news.
The bad news is that stressors always exist – in the past, present, future, and your own mind. There is no way to deal with it simply because you are human and live in society. Almost everything is a stressor, even positive stuff.
The good news is – You can choose how to react to stressors. The good news is that it is you have that capability. Remember, you always exist in the present moment, so most times you have to respond to the “perceived stressor” in your past or your future. Present moment stressors rarely exist in our society as they fall in the category of survival reaction to immediate danger.
The best news is that you can be in control of your own mind. In fact, by default, you are already in control of it, and it is your choice of how to use and direct it. You can train your mind.
So, experiencing short-term stress is a very healthy thing. It is mostly a physical subconscious reaction to an immediate danger. It makes you fast, strong, smart, and resourceful. The inflammation, fast heartbeat, temporary nausea, and knot in your belly fall into a category of short-term stress and it is necessary for your survival. The duration of it is from a few seconds to few hours and then it’s done and gone. Your body is designed to heal the negative implications of this temporary reaction.
Experiencing long-term stress is a very unhealthy thing and it is your reaction to chronic physical and emotional stressors. By definition, anything becomes chronic that lasts longer than three months. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but it is enough for your body to create a habit of habitual response. Chronic stress also is capable of chain linking chronic stressors together and trigger automatic reactions based on associations. Chronic health conditions, autoimmune disorders, mood disorders fall in the category of long-term stress and indicate your body constantly fighting for your survival. It is very exhausting.
One of the most common chronic stressors I encounter in my practice is persistent inner conflict. Examples of it:
- You want to do something but think you can’t. For whatever reason.
- You settled for something you constantly want to escape. Work / relationship / friendship / etc.
- You think you are not good enough
- You have to drink alcohol or take recreational drugs to relieve everyday stress. In reality, you want to escape everyday life and your memories.
- You hang out with people who are negative / don’t believe in you / limit your development / etc.
You got the idea. A persistent inner conflict is a showstopper. Just by definition, you cannot move in two opposite directions, so it becomes a tag-of-war and it is exhausting. The more exhausted you are the less energy you have to achieve or dream or even create one.
The less energy you have the more you want to escape reality and settle, and so the inner conflict stays. It shrinks, then grows, then something else triggers it big time, and so on. It becomes catch 22.
The best news ever is that it is certainly possible to resolve this inner conflict, make decisions and move in the direction of the life you really want to live. The days will pass anyway, the only difference is you being happier with your life and in control of your reactions to it.
To paraphrase the quote above, It takes the same amount of energy to be miserable or to be happy. The choice is yours. Resolving an inner conflict It will take self-examination, creativity, learning how to reprogram your own reactions, some lifestyle adjustments, perhaps even change in nutrition, and it will make your life much more fulfilling.
Think about days ahead of you when you don’t have any toxic components in your life! That alone got to motivate you. Life indeed can be much easier, all you have to do is take the first step towards it.
Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
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