Have you ever come across an individual who just takes everything into their stride? Nothing seems to faze them! At the other extreme, there are others where every little thing is just too much to handle and they seem to have more than their fair share of "catastrophe". So, what's the difference?

4 inches.

That's right – the gap between your ears! Think about it for a moment. When you get stressed, is the stress external or internal to you?

Many people would say that it is external. Indeed, the trigger is external, but whether you feel stressed depends on your own internal response. That internal response boils down to your thinking that has you feeling out of control or out of your depth. At the most basic level, it generates a feeling of fear, albeit of varying degrees.
So, what is stress really? Stress happens when you have two concurrent but conflicting thoughts. For example, "I have to do this by the end of today" and "I don't have enough time". Or, "I've so many things to get done" and "I'm the only one doing it. Have you been there before?

If you look at it more deeply, it comes down to a feeling of lack or inadequacy – inadequate time, resources, ability, confidence, boundaries and so on.

Do you find yourself worrying about whether you will get things right, whether you'll be able to get everything done, what other people will think…………? Often, these anxieties can be ill-founded.

You've probably learnt very well how to go down the spiral of "What if it all goes wrong?" Well, what if it didn't?!

People say, "You'll only be disappointed if you think about what you want". But then, as the saying goes, "When we think positively, we risk disappointment; when we don't, we ensure it."

Sometimes, the people who appear "laid back" are the ones who get things done with the least amount of stress. Yet, often, appearing laid back is frowned upon. Do some people get a sense of importance from all the racing around – you know, other people saying things like, "I don't know how you manage it, you are amazing"? Food for thought.

It's not about positive thinking either. It's about thinking thoughts which are aligned. You know if your thoughts are aligned because any negative feeling that you have will disappear. For example, thinking, "It will all work out OK" but feeling unconvinced isn't going to work. Some other thought leading to a different action which causes the negative feeling to dissipate is needed.

And, has it ever occurred to you that we never ever get it all done?

Just imagine getting the important things done and still having time off to relax and play. What would that be like?

There are many things that you can do to help manage and handle stress; breathing techniques, taking time out, meditation, relaxation and so on. Here's what I have found to be the most powerful – taking control of your thoughts, and following on from that, your subsequent approach and attitude towards things. Why? Because your thoughts come before the stress! So………

  • Slow down for a moment and let go of the chatter for a few moments.
  • Know that you never get it all done. The question then becomes, "What do you want to get done today?"
  • Choose the one that you feel most motivated or inspired to do and then focus on it with a passion!
  • Ask yourself, "What would make this feel easiest and the most fun to do?" Playing some music, getting the kids involved?
  • Assume that when someone isn't being how you would like them to be, they are doing the best that they can. It has more to do with them than it is to do with you!
  • Stop beating yourself up
  • Instead of worrying, consider "crossing that bridge" if, as and when you get to it
  • Look out for everything that is working well

What if you tackled everything coming from a place of pure enjoyment?

No one can decide what is right for you. Only you can know because only you know how you feel inside. It takes conscious thinking and effort in the beginning. The key is to start, at least in some small way.

"If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment." – Marcus Aurelius Antoninus


Written by Veronica Lim, Executive Coach. Veronica works with professional and business women to take back control of their lives and to live freer, easier and richer. Check out her websites at
www.innerthinking.com and www.millionairethinking.com