How Do Thoughts Create Stress?

Have you noticed how thoughts create stress?

You may have observed how you seem to have a 'monkey mind' - a mind which is never at rest; it's always thinking, always bringing you a thought after another.

Our minds are useful to produce logical thinking and to bring in new ideas and possible solutions to problems. However, with each thought it also comes a certain level of stress.

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This is because each thought we have generates an emotion, and the body responds to that emotional energy - for instance, by tightening the muscles or by releasing certain chemicals in the brain, which in turn makes our mood change.

Thoughts create stress which can be seen as 'positive' stress (such as a feeling of motivation to take action) or 'negative' stress (such as anxiety or worry about something you cannot change).

The more attention you give to a thought, the more attached to its emotional energy you become, regardless it makes you feel good or bad.

Initially there would be nothing wrong with having 'positive' stress - stress that propels you into action. The problem, at least for me, comes when the monkey mind hangs on to thoughts that create negative stress - thoughts of "I can't", "I'm not good enough", "It's not possible".

In fact, recall a time when you had some sort of problem, and remember how you thought about it over and over, maybe trying to figure out the next step or simply trying to find a thought that gave you relief. You may recall how tired you felt after spending some time thinking about your problem.

Stop having 'negative' stress

Once you see how thoughts create stress you can choose to use your mind in the best possible way - in a way that benefits you.

This is, you want to make use of the creative thinking energy when needed, while at the same time not be carried away by the emotional energy created by every single thought that arises.

The key is to be able to let go of the thoughts and the energy they carry. Here are three different paths that can lead you to be free from stress:

  • Notice the fluidity of thoughts: see how all thoughts come and go - one minute you're thinking this, and the next minute you're thinking something else.

    Since all thoughts pass, it makes sense not to hold on to any thought for long - especially not on to those that make you feel bad!

  • Focus on your body. Focusing on your senses or on your breathing brings you back immediately from the realm of thought to the actuality of life here and now. Focusing on the breath in particular helps you to calm down quickly and easily.

  • Remember that you are not your thoughts. Who you really are is the actual awareness that witnesses the thoughts.

    As you grasp this knowledge you will realize that any thought you have is not 'you', and you don't need to automatically react to it. You are simply the presence that allows for all those thoughts to happen.

Thoughts create stress, but you don't need to be trapped into that stress at all - you can simply notice your own thoughts, and let them come and go as they do, without getting 'hooked' on to any thought specifically.

One technique that always works to keep a certain level of detachment from your thoughts is to observe your thoughts with curiosity, to say "Isn't that interesting?" to any thought that comes up.

Where our real power lies is in our ability to consciously think thoughts which make us feel good.

"God will never give you anything you can't handle, so don't stress."

Kelly Clarkson

Back to Negative Thinking Versus Positive Thinking

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