Internal Causes Of Human Stress

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Internal Causes Of StrressThis post was originally published, in this blog, in October 2011.  It continues the discussion about non-obvious causes that I revisited with you in my first post this week.  Just as I did for that first post, I’ve reproduced the original content below, with some additional commentary where appropriate.


Internal vs. External Causes

by Doc Orman, M.D. on October 21, 2011

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. [I should have said “where we should be looking” because we don’t typically look inside of ourselves all that often, or all that well, when we are trying to identify the causes of our stress.]

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.

[Don’t miss this important distinction here.  We have enormous power and control when it comes to the causes of stress which occur within us—much less so for the causes that occur outside of us.  People who know how to master most types of stress in their lives ultimately become masters of recognizing and dealing with the internal causes of stress that originate solely from within them.]

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.

[Learning to identify internal causes of your stress is not all that difficult.  You just need a framework of understanding that will enable you to do this. But very few people have this type of framework clearly in mind, nor are there many qualified trainers who are able to teach it to you.  Here’s a tip: if you haven’t yet registered to receive my free monthly Stress Relief Insights Newsletter via email, please be sure to do so, because this free resource will help you to develop a deeper  understanding of many of the most common hidden causes of human stress.]

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