What Are The Benefits Of Knowing That Stress Is Just A Word? (Part 1)

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Read this post to learn how you can benefit from knowing stress is just a word!This week, I am revisiting the very important principle that stress is just a word and how we can benefit from always reminding ourselves of this undeniable truth. In my first post this week, I pointed out that whenever we think we are suffering from stress…we are not.  We are actually suffering from something else that really does exist and that does indeed bother us from time to time.

If you’ve already read some of my earlier posts, you already know that “stress” is a word we use to stand for many different types of problems in our lives.  Of course, if you are new to this blog, or if you are not a subscriber to my free monthly Stress Relief Insights Newsletter, you might not know this, which is why I mentioned it above.

For many people, basic concepts about stress like this are so different from what they’ve been taught to believe that these concepts may be a little jolting at first. So they may take time to get used to.  Hopefully, revisiting my earlier post below, and the second part that follows it, will help you to better understand what I am really trying to communicate here.

Coping With Stress: How We Benefit From Knowing Stress Is Just A Word (Part 1)

by Doc Orman, M.D. on October 3, 2011

In previous posts, we established that stress is just a word and that human beings never suffer from stress. 

We also established that stress is a word that stands for problems in life, and when we think we are suffering from stress, we are really suffering from one or more very specific problems. 

Now, you might be thinking “big whoop”–knowing “stress” is just a word and that it stands for problems is merely a trivial semantic point 

Yes, I know it might seem that way, at first glance, but I assure you it really does make a difference. 

You see, we’ve been trained by our society to lump all our problems together and think of them as one big problem called “stress.” Then, we are encouraged to search for solutions to this composite problem (i.e. stress), such as eating better, exercising more, using relaxation techniques, taking medications, etc.  

[You, and I, and everyone we know have definitely been conditioned to think this way. Breaking free of this very common, but disempowering, way to think will actually help you to deal with your stressful problems in life much more effectively.] 

Not The Best Approach 

This coping strategy, while very popular today, is not the best way to go.  It might be OK if all you want to do is deal with the symptoms of your problems, but if you want to address root causes, you’ve got to think differently.  You’ve got to get very specific about each individual problem you might be having, because individual problems often have individual causes.

Thus, the difference between thinking your problem is “stress” and breaking down your difficulties into individual discrete “problems” is the difference between dealing with symptoms and dealing with causes.  And this is not a trivial difference.  It is also not just a matter of interchanging equivalent or similar words.  

[Make sure you are absolutely clear about this point.  I am not simply talking about words here.  Problems are real… “stress” is not.  Problems have real causes… “stress” does not.  When you mistakenly believe that your problem is “stress,” you will be prone to focus only on its symptoms.  On the other hand, when you focus on any specific problem you may be having, you are now in position to deal with underlying causes.  And there is a HUGE difference, that has nothing to do with words, between only dealing with the symptoms of your problems and learning how to deal with their underlying causes.] 


Here are just some of the benefits you can gain from always reminding yourself that stress is just a word: 

1.     You’ll stop making the mistake of thinking your problem is stress. 

2.     You’ll start focusing instead on the real problems in your life. This will force you to define your problems more specifically. 

3.     Instead of asking “How can I deal with my stress?” you’ll begin to ask more focused, problem-specific questions. 

4.     Your answers to these problem-specific questions will be much more useful in helping you deal with “stress.” 

So you see, it can make a world of difference by taking your focus off this mythical entity called “stress” and putting your focus where it rightly belongs…on the specific problem or problems that are troubling you. 

In the next post, we’ll continue to explore these benefits. In the meantime, if you haven’t signed up for my free monthly stress relief newsletter, you should do so.  Each month, we explore one specific hidden cause of stress, and then each week between issues, I’ll send you a brief email to further expand on that topic.  So it really is an ongoing training program about the hidden causes of stress, and I think you’ll find it very informative and helpful. 

[We’ll revisit Part 2 in this series in my final blog entry for this week. I will also give you a few examples of specific problem-focused questions, so you can see for yourself how more empowering they are.]

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