Stress Relief Principle #2: Stress Is Just A Word

by Doc Orman, M.D.

In the first post in this series on myths about stress, I pointed out that “stress” is just a word. It’s not a “thing” or “condition” that actually exits. It is merely an abstract concept.  And the only place abstract concepts exist is in human language…nowhere else.

Now, many people object when they first hear this principle espoused.  Some even think “how insensitive can you be to not appreciate all the stress that people suffer from?”   

Well, I certainly do appreciate how much stress people have.  I had lots of it myself for the first 30 years of my life.  And I’ve spent the last 30 years helping people learn how to free themselves from it.

The best way to end stress as a problem in your life is to start by getting clear that the “thing” you’ve been struggling to overcome, probably for years, isn’t a “thing” at all…it’s simply a word.

In other words, you’ve been focusing all your efforts on the wrong target.

Once you get clear what the real target is, you may just discover that your ability to deal with “stress” in your life will expand dramatically.   

Origin Of The Term “Stress” 

However, if you still doubt that “stress” is just a word, all you have to do is check out its source.  

The term “stress” was first introduced in its modern context by Hans Selye, an Austrian-born physician who did much of his pioneering research on stress in Montreal, Canada. 

In his 1956 book The Stress of Life, Selye states very clearly: 

     “If we are to use this concept (stress) in a strictly

     scientific manner, it is important to keep in mind

      that stress is an abstraction; it has no independent  

      existence.” (p.43)

Unfortunately, as time went on, we forgot Selye’s very important warning.  

As a result, we continue to think of stress as a “thing” or a “condition” that actually does exist, and that we actually do suffer from.

In order to become a master at stress relief—or anything else in life—you must first understand the fundamental nature of what you’re trying to conquer—i.e., what it really is, and what it is not. 

That’s why understanding that “stress” is just a word is the first important step on your path to developing true stress mastery. (More to come on this subject.)



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jeanne October 6, 2011 at 3:34 PM

I mostly agree – in a couple ways. I think people in general feel the need to “slap a label” on everything – so, there is that. But the other thing is I also think people in general put too much energy or power into “things”, words or ideas. Another words, if your walking around concentrating on how stressed you are, then yeah…your going to feel stressed – because your walking around telling yourself you are!! If you have the need to think about your stress – at least do this: “Yup…feelig a bit stressed, a bit overwhelmed perhaps – BUT, I know it’s only temporary and I’m a smart cookie, so I’ll come through this with flying colors!” Oh…well…that is IF stress were a thing! Great article and good reminder on what not to do!.


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