- What distinguishes your approach to stress from others?
There are five ways my approach differs:
1) It’s based on a radically different way of thinking about what stress is, where it comes from, and what you should do about it.
2) It promotes a different (and in my opinion better) coping method than stress management.
3) It focuses on learning how to identify (and deal with) hidden causes of stress.
4) It rejects the widespread belief that stress is an inevitable, unavoidable aspect of modern life.
5) It highlights major myths and misconceptions about stress that keep people from dealing with stress more effectively.
- What’s the difference between “stress mastery” and “stress management”?
Stress management is the use of a wide range of health-promoting coping strategies that deal primarily with just the symptoms of stress. Stress mastery is knowing how to identify and deal with the underlying causes of our day-to-day difficulties.
- Why do you include a stethoscope in your logo design?
First, it tells people I’m a medical doctor, and not a mental health professional. Second, a stethoscope is used to search for invisible things going on inside our bodies. This is similar to how we must search for hidden causes of stress, which also occur within us. And third, stethoscopes are used to examine bodies, not minds. This fits with my “biolinguistic” model of human stress, which emphasizes the role of our body, and de-emphasizes the role of our mind.
- What does “Stress Relief….Beyond Belief” mean?
It’s both a promise and a means to achieving that goal. The promise is that I can show you how to achieve much more relief from your stress than you may believe is possible. In order to achieve this, however, you will need to go beyond some of your limiting and incorrect beliefs. So, if major stress relief is your goal, the way to get there is to get beyond your outdated beliefs.
- Why do you place so much emphasis on “hidden causes”?
In this blog, I go into great detail about what the hidden of causes of stress are, where they come from, and why they play such an important role in causing stress to occur in our lives. I also show how hidden causes are the key to reducing most types of stress…without having to manage it. This subject is far too important, and far too complex, to explain in just a few short sentences. So if you want to know more about these hidden causes, please read some of my potst.
- Why do you place such little emphasis on external causes?
I recognize the importance of external circumstances, events, pressures, and demands in contributing to our stress. I also agree that if you can get your external circumstances to change, your stress can be reduced as a consequence. However, much of the time, we can’t easily get the external circumstances of our lives to change. Therefore, it helps to know how to deal with stress in internal ways. This is what true stress mastery is all about. It’s the ability to deal with stress very well, either by influencing your external circumstances, or by knowing how to eliminate stress internally whenever you can’t get your external circumstances to line up just the way you want.
- Why don’t you promote nutritional coping strategies?
I’m not opposed to nutritional stress reduction strategies at all. It’s just that nutrition is not one of my fields of expertise, so I don’t preach about it. My focus is on teaching people how to master the hidden causes of their stress, which consist mainly of cognitions and behavior patterns (within us) that we don’t normally notice. Certainly, eating better, getting regular exercise, taking time to relax, and getting proper sleep are all important factors that can have many positive, stress-reducing benefits.
- Are you saying that people should never try to manage their stress?
Definitely not. I believe stress management techniques, such as relaxation, physical exercise, yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and many others all have positive health benefits. I also believe they are much better than turning to cigarettes, alcohol, overeating, illegal drugs, or other chemical coping strategies. However, most stress management techniques deal with just the symptoms of our stress. They rarely help us better understand or deal with the underlying causes of our difficulties. I believe it’s always better to deal with the causes of stress whenever you can. But if you don’t know how to do this, stress management can be a reasonable, but not ideal, second choice.
- Why don’t you give people more tips about how to reduce their stress immediately?
I am not a fan of giving people tips for reducing stress. I don’t believe “quick-fix” approaches do much good. Sure, just about every stress expert offers such tips, so most people have been conditioned to expect them. But I don’t want to reinforce our mass societal “delusion” that simplistic tips such as “take time each day to relax,” or “make a list of all the things you need to do,” etc., will give people the long-term stress relief they are desperately searching for. I believe the best thing you can do for people is to teach them a whole new way to think about and deal with their stress more effectively. This can’t be accomplished in a short period of time. It requires a commitment to more in-depth learning and to developing practical skills and know-how that all take time to master. Thus, I believe giving people tips not only doesn’t help them very much….but it actually harms them in the long run. That’s why you won’t see me doing this.
- Won’t I be less motivated and less productive if I get rid of all my stress?
This is another terrible myth that has become widespread. While many fear this will happen, the majority of high-powered, highly-productive people who have successfully reduced their stress have gone on to become more productive…not less! Unfortunately, this myth keeps people from learning how to eliminate much of their stress, since they are so convinced this will seriously diminish either their drive or their personal effectiveness.
- How long does it take to develop stress mastery?
This varies from person to person, and it depends upon a number of factors. How badly does the person want to achieve stress mastery? How good are the people teaching or coaching them? How good are the conceptual models, strategies, and tools that the person is exposed to? How open is the person to new ideas and coping skills? How much are they willing to practice, on their own, to develop personal competencies? I know for me, it took several years to become reasonably good at dealing with stress, once I finally understood what was lacking with the stress management approach. It definitely doesn’t happen overnight. But given the right attitude, the right training methods, and the right inputs, an average person can start seeing results in a matter of weeks, or sometimes months. The good news is that once a proper foundation of initial skills, knowledge, and competencies are established, they continue to expand as time goes on.
- With regard to the emotion of anger, do you believe it’s always better to express angry feelings, rather than to suppress them?
Most people believe there are only three ways to deal with strong feelings of anger—express them, suppress them, or more recently, to manage them. There’s actually a fourth coping option—making feelings of anger quickly disappear—which is the one I favor. If you know the secrets to making anger quickly disappear, you won’t have to worry about the choices of expressing it, suppressing it, or finding some other ways to creatively mange it. This very useful coping skill is not really all that difficult to learn. I’ve been teaching people how to do this for more than 30 years. I teach people how to master six very common emotions: anger, guilt, frustration, fear, worry, and sadness. This is one of the foundational Stress Mastery courses that form the core of my new Stress Mastery Academy.
- Is your approach to dealing with stress good for everyone, or are there certain people who are unlikely to benefit from it?
While everyone could benefit from the principles and strategies I’ve developed and teach for learning how to master stress, the reality is that some people may not be open to them. For example, you need to be willing to question your existing beliefs about stress, as well as about many other aspects of life, and not everyone is open to having their existing viewpoints challenged. Also, you must be willing to grapple with certain “truths” about reality, and I am sorry to say this is not a top priority for everyone. But for the vast majority of open-minded people, the principles and coping strategies I teach should be very helpful.