7 Causes of Unconscious Stress
Have you ever felt…off, but couldn’t put your finger on what was going on? Have you felt like something is wrong, definitely wrong, even though on the surface everything seems fine? It’s hard to talk about it with loved ones, because they just won’t understand. It’s hard to describe, so it feels like you’re just making it up or maybe you complain too much. This is stress. You may not know where it's coming from but it’s stress. Let’s explore where this stress might be coming from.
For the most part, when it comes to stress, most people can point right at their stressors. They’re easy to spot…the things that get under our skin, push our buttons, stretch our comfort zones.
The car doesn’t start, traffic, an annoying colleague, the kids are misbehaving, a new project at work, finances, in-laws, disrupted plans…this list could go on and on, but I think you get a clear picture.
What about when you feel troubled, discontent, ill-at-ease, put off, unhappy…but you have no idea why? This is like a pinhole in your tire. You know it’s there, but it’s hard to find. Even if you try to fill it up, it leaves you feeling deflated and off balance, and makes the journey harder going.
It’s difficult to patch the leak if you don’t know where it is. Let’s explore 7 sources of unconscious stress.
- Going against your integrity. We each have an internal rule book. When we break our own rules, it is stressful. For example, if my internal rule book said that honesty is the best policy, but I was not telling someone something important, that would lead to stress. Maybe in your mind, you rationalized it, but your heart is not convinced. In this case, identify where you are breaking your internal rule and then make it right. Are you selling a product you don’t believe in? Are you treating your family in a manner you always said you never would? Are you participating in something you know is not right?
- Holding a double standard. Similar to the case above, holding a double standard involves the internal rule book. In this case I say that it’s not ok for others to do something, but I am doing it. For example, I may be in a friendship where it is very important that my friend is always on time. I always run a bit late, but I have real excuses! Watch out for where rules apply to some people, but not to other people. In this case, identify which rules you hold a double standard on and fix it up. Either forgive the rule-breakers, or dissolve the rule.
- Not following dreams. Everyone has dreams. They may not be grand dreams of landing on the moon, but little things that hold a special place in your heart. It could be to travel somewhere, it could be to take a course in a particular subject, perhaps to visit a particular person, or join a certain cause. You know what your dreams are. You may have forgotten, but you’ll find them quickly. When you don’t follow your dreams, it leads to stress. There is a part of you that is very hungry, but you’re not feeding it. Have you given up your dreams for someone else’s? Are you too busy? Have you gotten your priorities mixed up? Have you given up on dreams completely? Get back in touch with your dreams. Just dreaming again can lift your spirits. Write a list. You might not be able to get to the big dreams right now, but take some action.
- Not taking action. There are things on your list of things to do. Putting them off can seem like no big deal, but putting them off over and over just creates a heavy weight that you carry everywhere you go. Are you ignoring certain areas of your life? Are there things you’ve been avoiding? Are you finding other things to do instead? Are there just too many things to do? In this case, write that list out. Just that action will feel better. Then, you guessed it, make it happen. Just do the things you’ve been putting off.
- Taking the easy way. In this case you are taking action, but you’re doing a half-ass job (trying). Your kids are alive, but are you being a mother? You’re showing up for work, but are you just putting in time? You’re in a relationship, but are you a couple? Just maintaining status quo is not good enough. It’s unfulfilling and meaningless. We were made for more than mediocrity. That’s why mediocrity leaves you feeling stressed. What are you doing a half-ass job at? Where are you not doing your best?
- Not being honest with yourself. Trying to be someone you’re not is flat out exhausting. So is trying to be perfect. Same goes for trying to impress others, competing with others, or comparing yourself with others. Just bring it all back in. Ask yourself, who is the best version of yourself? What is your best self like? Be that. Nothing more, nothing less.
- Lack of connection. This last one ties all the rest together. When you don’t feel rooted deeply in something important to you, it leads to stress. Think mission, purpose, meaning. What do you truly care about? What matters most? What’s at the top of your list? What’s your main thing? Is it God, self-improvement, love, family? In this case, keep the main thing the main thing.
Now that you know about these unconscious stressors, they’re no longer unconscious. That’s a good thing because now you can do something about them. You are in the driver’s seat of your life and no one is going to care as much as you do about making your life amazing. Make it happen.
Here’s to Conquering Stress,
The Stress Experts
Practical Strategies to Deal With Daily Stressors
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