Stress and anxiety are the effects of a negative belief. They are not the problem in and of itself. Let me give you an example. Imagine that some-one goes through life with a belief that they are stupid. This is not reflected in their level of education, their results at school or their capacity to learn. However, it’s a strongly held idea deep within their subconscious. This is a sabotaging influence in their world and may hold them back from applying for jobs/promotions at work, making friends with people who they deem to be more intellectual than they are, trying new things for fear of failure. Were it not for the errant belief, they would be leading a freer life. (Friends, family and work colleagues may be surprised by this belief system, from their experience of this person.) If you were to place this person in a situation that triggered this belief (eg, their work place assigned them to learn a new complex task and the learning curve felt overwhelming and ‘too hard,’) then they could experience anxiety. Anxiety builds on the idea that they are stupid.
It’s like there is a tape recorder in the head and when the stressor presents (new task at work) there is an automatic default to press the “play’ button for the tired old story about being stupid. The ‘stupid’ story is not dependent on any of the factors that present in each fresh situation, it is bypassed in order to fulfill the message on the internal tape. How do these stories become plausible? Where do they start? They all have a starting point. Generally, they start when we are young. A parent, sibling, relative, play mate, neighbour, makes a negative comment one day (or a series of repetitive comments over time) that go in deep. And they stick. You bring home a test from school one day and you failed it. “Gee, you’re not very bright are you?” Youch. That feels painful. A belief is formed. I am stupid and it is fed and built upon.
Negative beliefs allowed to run for a long period of time are rarely examined to see if they have any validity. Some of the questions below are useful to get to know your sabotaging patterns and that is the first step towards letting them go.
“What is (stupid) anyway? Can you define it?”
“Where did this belief come from?” (Who and when)
“What makes it so believable?”
“Is it possible that when this information was delivered to you that the person delivering it was operating from a lower level of consciousness, that did not know how to help you learn about life?”
“Does this belief enhance my life and make me feel empowered or do I feel disconnected and powerless?”
We have all been gifted different levels of intellectual ability; none of them are good or bad, they simply ARE. Labeling anyone stupid, is a value judgement that is unsupportive of another’s growth and lacking in insight. However, irrespective of that, it’s what we DO with negative feedback that is the key. Life is full of learning opportunities. We get to trial new ways of living and being every day. Anything that comes towards you that feels uncomfortable or painful has a gift for you. It’s letting you know, you have some unfinished business inside you. Can you find the courage to examine the stories, rather than to just run with them for the hundredth time? Can you examine them deeply, get to know their stories and their tricks, then let them go? Stress and anxiety will need to find another home if you do.