Emotions Psychology Part One: Anxiety and Stress

The author at twenty-three
The author at twenty-three

This article is about anxiety and stress, and how most of our stress management techniques don't work in the long term.

There is popular belief that stress can be eliminated by putting the stress-inducing problem out of the mind. That we can utilize certain techniques that distract our thinking from our current anxieties and that, once the problem is out of the mind it can be forgotten.

But the fact of the matter is that such a so-called stress managment action (or inaction) does not work. What it does is give the illusion that the stress has been eliminated. In actuality, the stress has been ‘deferred’ until a later date.

Relaxation's great, but it only temporarily relieves; it does not remove that which is within

A few beers at the club after work, a hard game of squash, listening to relaxing music, sexual release, jogging, Tai Chi, the leisurely swim, these things temporarily relieve stress. The immediacy, the urgency, the presence of the problem is ameliorated. But the stressful problem is not resolved. What actually happens is that the problem does not go away. Instead, it sinks into the unconscious mind. It does not cure itself. It does not go away. Moreover, it continues to grow and to build unmonitored by our awareness, only to manifest itself as an even stronger, more unpleasant emotional problem at a future date.

A perceived problem usually only exasperates emotions already within us

Also incorrectly believed is that our problems cause our stress; that it is the situation itself which creates the feelings or emotions we find so unpleasant. Things happen outside of us over which we have inadequate control- or no control at all – and we find that very difficult to live with.

But is it an “outside-of-ourselves” situation which really causes the emotion, thus causing the stress?

Twenty years later
Twenty years later

It is our interpretation of the situation, based on what we already have inside us which is the real problem

If we ponder on this, and are honest with ourselves, we eventually realize (at the intellectual, even though we are still incapable of accepting it at the emotional level) that the problem is not external to us. We may rationalize that it is. But, actually, the problem lies within. It is inside us. It is not outside us at all. What is outside is simply the stimulus, the trigger. The emotion, which is the direct reaction to our thinking on a particular problem, lies within our own psyche. The agony is internal. It is our emotion which is hurting us, causing the pain and anguish. Or, more specifically, it is our automatic reaction at the mental-emotional level which is causing our stress.

Emotions Psychology: Stress and Anxiety - Face the problem. Don't try to push it away.

How can we overcome stress? Changing the outside circumstances might temporarily alleviate it. But soon another problem will arise to take its place. Life appears to be an ongoing project of overcoming problems of one sort or another.

In overcoming problems we have to pick, in many instances, the lesser of two evils. If we pick according to what we believe in our heart to be right, then the decision will rarely become a stress problem. But if we don’t; if we push it below, sweep it under the proverbial carpet, we add to the stockpile of subconscious stress we already possess.

Nearly all of us are filled with neuroses, phobias, and hang-ups

But how to get rid of the stockpile of anxiety and stress held within us? For nearly all of us are filled with neuroses and phobias and hang-ups of one sort or another. How can we get rid of these?

We can’t change the outside world so that we have no more problems. That is impossible. It wouldn’t matter if you had the power of a national president or an emperor, or the genius of Leonardo de Vinci or Albert Einstein. All we can do is change the world within us.

Another couple of decades
Another couple of decades

Try this for a long term stress management solution. However, don't expect to be cured of stress overnight

And change the world within us we can. Ways have been found. And as far as the alleviation of stress is concerned there is an excellent way. It is called Vipassana. You won’t find the word in a dictionary. But you will find it on the World Wide Web. Look it up. Check it out. Maybe make a telephone call. It could change your life.

I hope here that you have learned something you perhaps did not know of anxiety and stress.   And I reiterrate. Ways have been found to gradually remove stress from our lives...from the inside.

Keep happy,

Tom.

If you think you're stressed, spare a thought for the mother penguin looking for her chick among this lot!
If you think you're stressed, spare a thought for the mother penguin looking for her chick among this lot!

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