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Where There's Stress, There's a Story

https://www.raptitude.com/2016/07/where-theres-stress-theres-a-story/

raptitude.com

Where There's Stress, There's a Story
I tried something new with my most recent vacation. I planned to spend seven days in Portland, visiting a friend, riding bikes, eating artisanal donuts and drinking craft beers. But I divided this week into two, and in the middle, spent an entire week at a silent retreat.

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A silent retreat

A silent retreat

Its basic idea is to see how quiet the mind can get when you stop feeding it entertainment, conversation, and daydreams.

It provides the environment for noticing what’s happening inside you and around you, and come back to that when you get distracted.

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How our mind works

How our mind works

The mind is an extremely powerful connect-the-dots machine, always making rapid associations between what it notices, triggering any one of millions of memories or projections about the future.

Essentially, the mind is making stories: sequences of events, past or future, where you stand to gain or lose something. 

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How stress is born

How stress is born

A certain desperation grows around the needs you face in these stories, which creates real stress, usually over nothing. Is it actually useful, or merely addictive, to continually imagine a confrontation with a driver that cut you off on the way to work this morning?

These stories are just a natural by-product of the mind's ability to make connections between similar thoughts, but they generate real stress.

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Find the story, leave it unfinished

Find the story, leave it unfinished

Every time you experience stress, it’s a response to a narrative in the mind, a story about something you feel you need to have happen or prevent from happening.

When you notice stress rising at some random moment, find the story. Just leave the narrative unfinished and go back to what you were doing before the storytelling started.

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Noisy Existence

Noisy Existence

Our lives are infiltrated by noise and distractions.

We let ourselves get distracted by phone rings, notifications, email, etc., which take up most of our day.

Even when there is no ...

Getting Bored is Crucial

While our entire day is stuffed with noises of all kinds, getting quiet time, doing nothing gets more and more crucial. We need to be able to look at nothing, with no input going inside us, listening to nothing and get in a state of 'boredom', with no smartphone or computer to poke your mind.

We don't get any bright ideas in front of the computer, but the mind can activate while driving, in the shower, and at times when we are not engaged in any mental activity.

Let Your Mind Wander

Studies show that letting your mind wander activates it. It makes you more productive and goal-oriented, as you have provided your mind with some space, to play around and grow.

If you are sitting, you will automatically pick up your phone (or iPad), so a better way is to go running or hiking, with the phone turned off, and let your mind refresh itself doing anything, daydreaming, singing or planning.

Dealing with change

We can train to get good at dealing with times of massive change.

And here’s a secret: actually, we’re always in times of change. If you’re waiting for things to settle down, it’s a beau...

"We are always in transition. If you can just relax with that, you’ll have no problem.” 

"We are always in transition. If you can just relax with that, you’ll have no problem.” 

How our mind reacts to change

  • It complains. It doesn’t like change that it didn’t choose. 
  • It gets angry at others. It blames and might lash out at them. 
  • It looks for comfort, for a return to what you’re used to, what you know, what you’ve always gone to for comfort. 
  • It tries to get control. This can be stressful, trying to control the massively uncontrollable.

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Worry

... is an attempt to mentally problem-solve something that either isn’t really a problem or isn’t a problem that’s solvable.

Worry leads to unnecessarily high levels of stress and anxi...

Worry ‘Tastes’ Good

  1. Worry feels good because it gives us something (rather than nothing) to do. And this makes us feel a little less helpless and out of control.
  2. Like the body craves calories, the mind craves control. When faced with a fearful situation that we can’t actually do anything about, we give ourselves the illusion of control (and relief from helplessness) by engaging worry.

How to Cure Worry

In order to stop running away from the feeling of helplessness, we have to train ourselves to be okay with feeling helpless and out of control.

When you worry, try to identify the cause or trigger for the worry and notice how it makes you feel emotionally. Be willing to just feel and be with your uncomfortable emotions.