How to Stress Less

We live in a society that is constantly on the go. There is always something to be done. This has led many of us to leading a life with a completely packed calendar. I've been sharing over the last few weeks some great info I had received about building margin, or breathing room, back into our lives.

However, I think there is one more area that we must look at as we address this problem. A co-worker of mine has a sign in her office that says, "Good Morning, Let the Stress Begin". While I must admit I feel that way many a morning, I don't want to feel that way. And, I know that while I cannot control ALL the stress in my life, there is quite a bit that I CAN control. As I learn to control what I can (or maybe, in some cases, that should be LET GO), I know I will also see some additional margin in my life.

Below are several ways of thinking that will lead to stress. Believe me, they really do. Ask me how I know? From personal experience. :) Unfortunately, I am able to see myself in more than just one item on this list. As you can probably guess, these are the areas I will be addressing in my own life. How about you? Anything here ring a bell?

These were taken from the book "Stress Less" by Don Colbert, M.D. In this book Mr. Colbert lists "10 Types of Distortional Thinking" as given to him by Dr. David Burns.

1. All or Nothing Thinking - You see things in black-and-white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.

2. Overgeneralization - You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.

3. Mental Filter - You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that colors the entire beaker of water.

4. Disqualifying the Positive - You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count" for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.

5. Jumping to Conclusions - You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
a. Mind Reading - You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don't bother to check this out.
b. The Fortune Teller Error - You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.

6. Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization - You exaggerate the importance of things or you innappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny. This is also called the "binocular trick".

7. Emotional Reasoning - You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."

8. Should Statements - You try to motivate yourself with should and shouldn'ts as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. "Musts" and "oughts" are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements towards others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.

9. Labeling and Mislabeling - This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself. "I'm a loser." When someone else's behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him. "He's a ... louse." Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.

10. Personalization - You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event, which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.

8 Thoughts Shared:

Debra said...


I so need to get this book! I could see a little of me in each of those! Thanks for sharing that!

Blessings to you!

LAURIE said...

No doubt stress is part of our day ... but how I start my day is by asking God to give me the ability to have His light shine thru all the stress. I had to laugh at that sign your co-worker has, but really isn't it all in our attitude? Thanks for sharing these great things about stress.

Oh by the way...if you check out an older post

I am starting a new feature on my friday posts, to feature my faithful readers. I hope you will check it out and consider becoming one of my featured blogs as I honor my "circle of love" friends!

love, Laurie

Super B's Mom said...

WOW. I am guilty of all of those. This is great food for thought. Thank you!

Natalie said...

Something I always need to work on.

Joyfull said...

Great list, I love reading Dr. Colbert's books! Thanks for sharing this.

Beth E. said...

I'm guilty of #3 and #5...gotta lot of work to do, don't I?! Great post...thanks so much for sharing excerpts from Dr. Colbert's book. :o)

Sab said...

Thanks for sharing this! That was real interesting to read... I might have to adjust a few of my ways of thinking...
that's good, right?? ;)

Meredith said...

hmmmmm......definitely something to chew on. Don't we all have days that we do some or parts of all of these? Or is it just me?:)