The pace of modern life has become so fast and intense that it has created an epidemic in our society. This epidemic that affects the majority of us is stress. You have probably heard how stress affects the human body. It is not unusual for people to suffer all kinds of psychological and physical problems because they are afraid of dealing with the factors responsible for their stress.
What are these factors?
Believe it or not, our personal belief system greatly affects the quality of our everyday life, and it’s one of the main causes of stress in our lives. In our relationships with our partners, our children, our co-workers, our friends, we find a world of opinions. We become vulnerable to these opinions because the relationships are important to us. Think back to your early childhood, and you will realize that since the time you learned to talk people’s opinions have mattered to you.
Everyone around us has an opinion; they have something to say about us or about other people. Some opinions are stronger than others, and the tendency to gossip usually prevails. Most of us do everything within our power to please general opinion. But as much as we may try, it’s not possible to please everyone, and we are filled with distress and personal insecurity.
Another cause of stress in our lives is making assumptions and taking things personally. Every day we arrive at hundreds of assumptions, and most of us accept these assumptions without even questioning whether they are really true. Many could be inaccurate, but even so we defend them as if our lives depended on it.
We make assumptions, and then take things personally that have nothing to do with us. Consciously or unconsciously, this habit generates a lot of internal pressure and stress. The stress that comes from this kind of interaction with others is the cause of many sleepless nights, lack of concentration on our tasks, and an inability to enjoy the things that bring us peace and happiness.
To lead a stress-free life, it’s important to first recognize the main source of stress in your life. The solution then lies in what I call common sense. For that reason, it’s a good idea to consider the following points:
A lot of internal pressure comes from unrealistic expectations we have for ourselves. We look for perfection and strive for perfection just to satisfy a false image that we’ve created for ourselves. Let’s ask ourselves how much are we willing to pay for that perfection.
Much stress can come from harboring destructive feelings of blame, self-judgment, and hate. This type of internal pressure serves as a breeding ground for addictions of all types. When addictions are present it’s important to seek professional help.
The stress of trying to please the opinions of other people around us, combined with other internal pressures, may cause an imbalance in our lives that is very hard to overcome. We need to become aware of our personal belief system, and then challenge those beliefs that don’t support our happiness. To start with, we can to do our best to not be influenced by the opinions of others. There are Four Agreements summarized on this page. If you live by them, they can help you enjoy a stress-free life.
The Four Agreements
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do you best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
Originally printed in the Sept./Oct. 2005 issue of Siempre Mujer. Reprinted by permission of Siempre Mujer.
About the author:
Don Miguel Ruiz is the author of the international bestseller, The Four Agreements.
(Over 3,000,000 copies sold in America.) For more information on his books please visit www.amberallen.com or call 1-800-624-8855.
Available at amazon: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
It will look like this: The Secret to a Life Without Stress