In a recent post, I explained the difference between obvious and non-obvious causes.
Obvious causes are the ones people most easily recognize. Non-obvious causes are causes that occur within us. They are thought patterns, beliefs, opinions, perceptions, theories, judgments, actions that we take, actions that we fail to take, etc.
These non-obvious causes are not complex, mysterious, nor are they difficult for us to comprehend. What makes them problematic is that they occur within us, and this makes them much more difficult for us to notice.
I call these non-obvious stress-producing factors “hidden causes of stress.” That’s because most of the time, they are hidden from our view.
Internal vs. External Causes
Another way to think about these hidden causes is to break down all of the potential causes of human stress into “internal” and “external” classes. While this is almost the same as thinking in terms of obvious and non-obvious causes, there may be some added value by using an internal .vs external framework.
Why? Because it more clearly describes how (or more precisely, where) we are generally looking when we are trying to figure out what might be causing our stress to occur.
Mostly, we’ve been trained to look outside of ourselves when trying to make sense of where our stress may be coming from. While there may be “non-obvious” aspects of our external world that we aren’t correctly recognizing, our biggest value comes from turning our gaze inward. It’s the internal causes of our stress that we have the most control over, so shifting our focus inward gives us maximum power and influence.
Of course, this only benefits us if we know how to recognize the internal causes of stress within us. And then, just recognizing them isn’t usually enough. You’ve also got to know what you can do about these hidden causes, if you are ultimately going to have less stress in your life by searching for them in the first place.
We’re Not Very Good At This
Unfortunately, most of us are not very good at identifying our internal causes. We also haven’t had much practice (or training) in knowing what we can do about them.
This, I believe, is one of the major deficiencies of our educational system. It’s also the reason why blogs such as this one, and many others, are now becoming available to help provide you with some of this missing education.