By Morty Lefkoe
It is possible to get rid of your stress.
“Yeah, sure,” you might say. “And how exactly am I supposed to get rid of all the stressful things in my life?”
Here’s how I answered that question for myself.
I was filled with anxiety for most of my life.
I worried about what people thought of me, I was worried about not having enough money, and I worried about my mother who was having a difficult time after divorcing my father when I was three.
If worry causes stress, I was overwhelmed with stress from the time I was a child.
My way of dealing with the “things that were causing stress in my life” could be summed up in the phrase I uttered at least several times a day for the first 20 years of my life: “I can’t wait until I grow up and then I’ll be able to ….”
My life was always focused on changing my circumstances some day so that the anxiety would go away and I would be happy.
After many years of therapy, workshops, and self-help books the stress had lessened somewhat, and I was coping with my difficult circumstances better, but I was still trying to change what was happening in my life to gain happiness.
I noticed that I was now in my 40s and I still hadn’t managed to change things enough to make me happy and relieve my constant stress.
It was only after I started using a belief-eliminating process I had created that I realized that the stress was not coming from what was happening, but from the meaning I was placing on what was happening.
Once I was able to change the meaning, the stress literally disappeared.
For example, before I married my current wife Shelly (to whom I have now been married for 26 glorious years), I had been married twice before.
Neither relationship worked very well or lasted very long. Most of my married life with these two women was very stressful.
At the time, I blamed my wives and said all I needed to do was to find the right woman, in other words, change my circumstances.
So I tried it for the third time, hopefully with the “right” woman. Unfortunately, right after we got married I noticed the stress was still there.
About that time I started looking for and eliminating the beliefs that were causing the problems in my life.
One problem was that I was incredibly needy.
I actually believed that I couldn’t survive without a woman in my life who loved me. That belief led me to place so much pressure on my wives that our relationships were constantly stressful.
Once I eliminated that belief and a bunch of others (most importantly, what makes me good enough and important is having people like me and think well of me), the neediness stopped.
And when the neediness stopped, and when a bunch of negative beliefs about myself were gone and I realized I was loveable and worthy of being loved, my relationship with my current wife transformed.
The same person and the same circumstances, but instead of trying to get my sense of okayness from my marriage, I brought my sense of okayness to my marriage.
It made all the difference in the world. And the stress was gone.
I’m reminded of a news story I read in the mid-1990s when a lot of middle-level managers were losing their jobs.
The article interviewed a number of these out-of-work people. Some of them were very stressed, worrying about making ends meet.
Some of them, however, were very happy and seemed to exhibit no stress at all.
People in this latter group experienced being fired as an opportunity to do something they had always wanted to do and had never done because they were “stuck” in their jobs.
They either created one-person consulting firms, opened some type of retail store, or went back to school and changed professions entirely.
If losing your job means you will never find another way to make money, you will be stressed. If losing your job means you can now do something even more nurturing and satisfying, you will be excited about the same event.
You see, events don’t have any inherent meaning.
Circumstances don’t mean anything until you give them a meaning … and one meaning can be stressful while another might be enlivening.
Stress is caused by the meaning we give to events – which in turn is caused by our negative beliefs and feelings about ourselves, people, and the world we live in.
The beliefs can easily be eliminated with the Lefkoe Belief Process (LBP) and the feelings with the Lefkoe Stimulus Process (LStimP).
Imagine that you are about to undertake an important project and have the beliefs: “I don’t think I can do it. I think I will fail and failure is bad.”
How do you feel? … You’d feel stress – and would blame the project for causing the stress.
Now imagine the same project, but this time you have the beliefs: “I’m competent. I know I’ll do a great job. And if I don’t my results don’t mean anything about who I am.”
How do you feel now? … Notice that the project is no longer causing stress.
The following is a list of some beliefs that clients complaining of stress have identified and eliminated. Can you see that anyone with beliefs such as these probably would experience stress?
Say each of the following beliefs out loud.
If any of them resonate with you, it’s probably a belief you hold. Even though you may have held it since you were a child, and even if you’ve tried a number of ways to get rid of it, you can get rid of it using the right approach.
I had many of these myself and eradicated them all.
“If I fail it means I’m stupid.”
“I’m not competent.”
“I’m not good enough.”
“Nothing I do is good enough.”
“I’ll never get what I want.”
“Mistakes are bad.”
“If I make a mistake it means I’m bad and stupid.”
“Life is difficult.”
“People can’t be trusted.”
“I have no control over my life.”
“I don’t measure up.”
“The unknown is scary.”
“If I do something wrong, something terrible will happen.”
Assume that you didn’t have these or any other related beliefs.
Imagine, instead, that you believed, “There is no such thing as failure; everything is merely a learning experience.”
And, “I’m fine just the way I am; I don’t have to do anything to be okay and accepted by others.”
Would you still be likely to experience as much stress as you do now?
Most of the techniques commonly used to deal with stress focus on how to better cope with stress after we experience it.
For example, meditation, deep breathing, and visualizations can sometimes alleviate it for the moment.
Our work, on the other hand, assists people to totally eliminate their stress (or not even get it in the first place) by getting rid of the beliefs that cause it.
One client, a psychotherapist who lived with constant stress, described how the Lefkoe Belief Process helped her overcome it.
“At my first session with Shelly Lefkoe I told her: ‘I’m overwhelmed. I’m confused. Scattered. I’m not focused. All over the place.
“I can’t organize. Frightened by competition. It keeps me from being successful. There is an emptiness I have to fill. I feel anxious and stressed all the time.’
“Shelly helped me eliminate a number of beliefs, after which my life changed dramatically. Today I have a grounded sense of confidence. I enjoy life more. I feel better about who I am.
“I now believe I am worthy of being taken seriously. Unlike what my mother used to say, ‘No one could take you seriously,’ I know I have much to offer people.
“The emptiness is gone. I have an inner joy. I accept what I can do and have confidence that I can do it. It doesn’t matter what others are doing. The other guy is not such a threat anymore.
“Finally, I have a sense of poise in the world that I lacked before.
“I used to be seen as this naive, wimpy type. I don’t think that’s what I project any more. I project a stronger image. I’m someone I’m happy to be. The anxiety and stress are gone.”
As I said when I started this post, it is possible to get rid of your stress. I’ve done it and I know a lot of others who have too.
Change the meaning you are giving to the events in your life by changing your beliefs, and you, too, will see your stress melt away like ice cream on a hot summer day.
If you haven’t yet eliminated at least one of your limiting beliefs
using The Lefkoe Method, go to ReCreate Your Life
where you can eliminate one limiting belief free.