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N. Singer, Ph.D.
from the first installment that symptoms of stress include a whole host of
symptoms, including irritability, impatience, difficulty concentrating or
sleeping, procrastinating, wondering what meaning your life has, frequent
use of sarcasm and a short fuse.
Also recall that events in your life do not directly cause stress, or any other emotion, attitude or mood, for that matter. The emotion or attitude that results from an event is strictly caused by what you say to yourself about that event--your internal dialogue.
shows that the average youngster in this country has been given such
negative programming 148,000 times by the time he/she reaches 18, versus
only 4000 or so positives during that same time frame...(positives like,
"Go for it," "You can do anything you set your mind to
do," and "You are as smart, handsome, gifted, athletic, etc. as
the next person.")
programming has kept us from taking risks, trusting our abilities, or
thinking "outside of the box. "Safety"
for most of us lies in repeating old, self-defeating habits, rather than
"risking" changes in our habits.
This is why approximately 77% of our self-talk is negative and why we
develop fears of change, taking risks, and losing everything. We constantly
worry about what others think about us, and often lose our self-confidence
good news in all of this is that no matter how unfortunate your history, no
matter how much you have had negative people pounding warnings and their own
fears into your brain, and no matter how many times you inadvertently
reinforced those unfortunate habits yourself through your own
self-defeating, fear-producing internal dialogue...it can all be overcome
and you can live a much healthier, more productive and (for the most part)
worry and stress-free life!
THOUGHTS, STRESS & YOUR HEALTH
everything goes as planned (assuming the gazelle is not injured, weak or
sick), it escapes, that nervous system
humans we rarely (thankfully) are faced with someone trying to kill us.
We don't have to stalk and wrestle down our food.
We don't have to run for our lives.
But the way we interpret everyday
events...from traffic jams, to inconsiderate clients, to our teenagers'
behaviors...leads to that same nervous system clicking on countless times
our self-talk we use stress producing phrases, like, "What if that
person is angry at me today?" or "I should have known better
than..." or "I can't let her get away with that...she needs to
know who is in charge here!" or "The market will never turn around
and my clients will hate me." These are thoughts that the gazelle never has, but these are
the thoughts that we humans allow to go unchecked in our minds.
So for our nervous systems, each of these thoughts sets off a chain
reaction very similar to that which happens in the gazelle running for its
life. Except for us, these
thoughts occur hundreds of times a week and so we are constantly switching
on and off this vital nervous system.
your blood pressure rises to 180/120 when someone points a gun at you, that
is being adaptive...but if it rises to 180/120 in congested traffic, at the
bank where a clerk is slow,
blood pressure-related cardiac problems, think about the potential
physiological consequences of blood leaving the digestive tract every time
you worry yourself, of sugar pouring into your bloodstream over and over
because you are angry about your teen's behavior, adrenalin being released
every time you try to please folks who can't be pleased...these events all
have physiological consequences, from ulcers...to heart failure...to
gastritis...to diabetes...to insomnia.
medicine specialists and family practice physicians estimate that at least
65% of their patients actually do not have an underlying medical condition
causing their symptoms! It is
stress related factors (caused by the self-talk you use every day) which
causes the bulk of our medical symptoms!
And since most physicians do not have (or choose not to spend) the
time to ask you about your life, how you interpret various situations, how
you deal with events, etc., they simply treat your symptoms (usually with
drugs), while the root cause is untouched and continues to fester.
tuned for the next installment, where Dr. Singer will explain what you can
do to change your thinking habits, and therefore your health and stress
levels for the rest of your life!