The Difficulties in Dealing With Stress

Poor Mind/Body Awareness

Many people have a poor level of  mind and body awareness. We are often completely unaware of low level stress, or stress as it’s beginning to develop. If we don’t see the stress, if we don’t feel it, if we don’t know that it is even there, then we really can’t do anything about it. A lot stress is like this – low level, invisible, well hidden deep within our bodies. If we are to successfully reduce our stress, we need to develop greater mind/body awareness. We need to develop greater sensitivity to what’s going on inside our own bodies before letting go of stress becomes a possibility.

Let me illustrate with an example. My first car was a 1964 Chevy II. It was a fairly basic car. It had two warning lights on the dashboard – one for oil pressure, and one for engine temperature. As long as the lights did not come on, I could sail down the highway, worry free. However, on a couple of occasions, one of those lights suddenly came on and glowed red. It was time to pull over to the side of the road, lift the hood and watch clouds of steam rise to the heavens as the radiator boiled over. It was time to call a tow truck because I had just experienced a breakdown. Those guages were not very useful. In fact, we called them idiot guages.

The car I drive today has much better guages that actually tell me what’s going on under the hood. Not so long ago, for example, I happened to notice that the temperature guage was a little past its usual 12 o’clock position. I was able to pull into service station, top up the fluid level, notice that I had a minor leak because of a loose hose clamp, and, as a result, I WAS ABLE TO AVOID A BREAKDOWN! Now that was a useful guage!

Our bodies are much more complex that any car. In fact, they are more complex that any high tech piece of equipment, including the space shuttle. And yet, most of us go through life with very little awareness of what’s going on inside our own bodies. We need to develop much finer guages if we are to detect stress before it gets too big.


Letting go of Stress is not so easy

Lack of sensitivity as to what is happening within our own bodies is the first difficulty in dealing with stress. The second difficulty is that often, even when we are aware of the stress in our body, we can’t seem to let it go. Let’s consider a bit of an extreme example – someone with a phobia. By definition, a phobia is an irrational fear – it doesn’t necessarily make any sense. Telling someone with severe claustrophobia, who is shaking, hyperventilating and sweating as a result of getting into an elevator, to ‘relax, take it easy, there’s nothing to be afraid of’, is of little to no use. People with phobia’s can be quite intelligent. They know there is nothing to get upset about. They know their reaction is irrational. They just can’t help it.

How we react to situations is often the result of our past experiences. If we’ve been bitten by a dog in our youth, we might have developed a fear of dogs. If we almost drowned, we might have a fear of water, and so on. So even if we know the cause of our stress, even if we are aware of it developing, letting it go is not at all easy. The part of us that wants to let it go is fighting the deeply conditioned part that’s reacting to generate it. One part of us is attempting to build stress, while another part is trying to release it.