Stress Causes: Some Beliefs Are Better Than Others

by Doc Orman, M.D.

In my first post this week, I covered a few basics about how beliefs can lead to stress in our lives.  In this post, I want to address another related topic—that some beliefs are better than others. 

The Truth About Beliefs 

The truth about beliefs is that they are simply that—just beliefs and nothing more.  It is very hard to know for sure (some would say it’s impossible) that any beliefs you have really are true.  Einstein showed that even widely believed scientific theories (such as Newtonian Mechanics) can be patently false, even though they were “proven” to be true by more than 300 years of experimental “validation.” 

So putting the truth value of beliefs aside, we can certainly say that some beliefs are better than others.  Some beliefs help us to get what we want in life, while others may not.  Even worse, some beliefs can get us a whole lot of what we don’t want in life—like unwanted problems (i.e. stress).   

For example, if you are an engineer and you’ve been hired to build a new bridge, you can use Newtonian physics as your guiding belief system, and the bridge will be built just fine.  However, if you are a rocket scientist, and NASA has just hired you to land a spacecraft on the planet Mars, you had better use Einstein’s belief system, or you will never hit your mark. 

Do Your Beliefs Create Or Minimize Stress In Your Life? 

One way to value the usefulness of any belief you might hold is to ask yourself the following question: 

  • Does this belief cause me to experience problems/stress in my life, or does it help me to reduce or eliminate problems/stress? 

Granted, this question is not always easy to answer.  This is because we aren’t very good at identifying our beliefs, especially our deeper ones that lie beneath the surface of our conscious opinions. 

Also, we don’t have a lot of practice (or skill) in challenging our core beliefs, and this is one of the reasons, in my opinion, why stress is so prominent in our society today.

Identify Your Problems…Then Work Backwards To Examine Your Beliefs 

Since we aren’t very good at spotting our main beliefs in advance of running into problems, once a stressful problem has emerged, we can use it as an opportunity to dig around into our stockpile of related beliefs. 

  • Are you having relationship problems?   Look for your underlying beliefs about what a healthy relationship is, what makes relationships succeed, and more importantly, what kinds of beliefs can make them fail.
  • Are you having emotional stress?  Look for your beliefs about where emotions come from, what makes them happen for human beings, and what meanings you may have attached to them.
  • Are you having public speaking stress?  Look for beliefs you have about the nature of public speaking, how you should prepare for a talk, and how audiences will likely judge you.
  • Are you having financial stress.  Look for your core beliefs about money, your core beliefs about your own value and self-worth, your beliefs about job security, etc.
  • Are you having stress-related physical symptoms or other types of health problems or illnesses?  Look at your beliefs about what makes people sick, what keeps people well, whether you are really taking care of yourself as best you can, etc. 

Get the idea?  Wherever you spot a stressful problem in your life, you’ll want to look for any beliefs that may be driving it.  When you uncover such beliefs, try to tell the truth about their usefulness to you, as best you can, and then search around for better beliefs that might help you to avoid such problems in the future, or that might help to alleviate the ones you already have. 



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