Stress does not actually come from what is happening but from the meaning you place on it. It is your interpretation of the event that brings stress or removes it. By changing your belief system and therefore, the meaning, the stress can disappear. You have the ability to transform an apparently bad situation to a favourable one by changing your thinking.
Events don’t have inherent meanings. Circumstances don’t have meanings by themselves but it is you who attach meanings to them. That is why an event can be stressful to one person but not so to another person. William Shakespeare in “Hamlet” said, ” Nothing is good or bad, thinking makes it so.” Recently, I was somewhere for a business meeting and my friend was listening to his favourite music from his laptop. Before the meeting started I asked him to please put off that distracting music. He was surprised by my request because, according to him, he normally worked with music on. Personally, I am at my best when there is absolute silence. To him, music at work was a positive belief system and it did not cause him any stress.
During the reorganisation or restructuring of one our big banks, some managers, including my friend, were laid off. He breezed into my office one morning to announce what he termed good news to me. The good news was that he was laid off. I asked him what was good in the news and he told me that it was an opportunity to start his own business and take responsibility for his life. He now has the fredom to manage his time, his talents and resources. To another person, losing job has another meaning. It is losing his source of income and throwing him into the labour market and bringing stress to the family.
I had an experience in 1978 as marketing manager of a pharmaceutical company. I attended an international marketing programme in Cambridge, Mass. USA to advance my knowledge in marketing but my boss was not pleased with my decision and action and that resulted in my resignation. I saw the disengagement from work not as a negative but positive event. It offered me the greatest opportunity to get out of pharmaceutical marketing at the right time into pharmaceutical publishing which I loved to do. God gave me a new drection. I quickly turned what should constitute stress to me and my family to a thing of joy.
What you think and believe about yourself influences how you feel and behave. If you think you are a successful person, you will feel like one and behave as such. If you think you are a failure, you will feel like a failure and act in such a way as to reinforce your belief. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so he is.” If you have a negative belief about yourself, you look for evidence to justify that belief. For example, if you make a common mistake, you interpret it to be that you are incompetent while a person with a positive belief system takes the mistake as a learning process.
Many people limit their potentials because of limiting self-esteem beliefs which cause stress. You often miss opportunities of service not because you lack the talent or skills but because your negative belief keeps you down. You believe such things as: “I am not good at it.” “I have bad luck.” “Life is tough.” “I know I cannot make it.” Such negative beliefs keep people down and cause stress. They should be avoided.