What Getting into Debt Taught Me About What Causes Stress

What Getting into Debt Taught Me About What Causes Stress

By Jamie Matthewman
September 3rd, 2015

For most of my life, my misunderstanding about what causes stress, meant I became so unhappy and ineffective that life felt like a disaster.

I would have sworn blind back then that it was other people, my life situations, a lack of money, rising debts etc. In fact anything except the state of my mind for my feelings of stress.

However I’ve since discovered circumstances have no effect on your stress levels. It can look like they do, if you don’t know how the mind actually works, but they don’t.

Here’s my story about how getting into helped me to see how my understanding of what causes stress was wrong and costly, but a great learning experience.

I Used to Think My Boss Was The Real Cause of Stress

In 2008 I started working for a boss who I didn’t see eye to eye with.

I stuck at the job for about 18 months, gradually becoming more and more unhappy and alienated from the team. One day whilst driving to meet a client, I suddenly felt an unfamiliar tingling down my right arm and a tightness in my chest. My fingers and hands went numb and a sense of fear gripped me.

I called a doctor, who advised me to immediately ring for an ambulance – she believed I was having a heart attack! Not great news! So in an even higher state of panic, I dialed 999 and within 5 minutes the ambulance arrived.

the real cause of stress

I received amazing service and fortunately, after several tests, I was relieved to discover the heart attack I was expecting, actually turned out to be an anxiety attack. Phew!

That was the last day I would work for that business. The anxiety attack was a clear sign something needed to change, I assumed it was a sign to get out, so I quit at a time when I was clearly very stressed.

Now I had a mortgage, a son and the usual financial obligations to meet with no income. I had some savings but it wouldn’t last long, so for the next few weeks I stressed about what to do next.

I decided to start my own internet/coaching business. It wasn’t a completely stupid idea, I’d been training for a few years, but I was still a novice.

Things didn’t work out, over a period of time I ran up significant debt. I had a constant feeling of being on high alert, unable to find a sense of peace. I would have sworn back then those stressful feelings were a result of the debt, but I later discovered the problem, which I couldn’t see at the time, was my thinking.

what causes stress

The Truth About What Causes Stress

I found out the hard way that, whilst it might look like your circumstances are to blame, actually what causes stress is stressful thinking. It has nothing to do with anything external to you. What causes stress is an insecure state of mind, an ineffective place to try and start a business from.

The default, analytical kind of thinking I’d been relying on for answers wasn’t helping, in fact the more I tried to figure things out, the further away a solution seemed to be. My mind was muddy, clouded by insecurity.

The more I tried to think my way to fixing the situation, the more noise I created and the more stress I felt. Admittedly the circumstances weren’t ideal, but I was creating emotional and physiological tightness as I resisted. T
his placed a strain on the natural flow of energy within my body, which compromised my body’s ability to function, and so the struggle continued.

It was futile and as I discovered first hand, there’s only so much mental abuse your body can take. When it can’t take anymore it will show you physically the damage you’re doing – in my case anxiety and severe skin rashes.

I’d eventually come to see that a busy mind, rather than the actual debt is what really causes stress, which is now being proven to be the number one proxy killer disease today, according to the American Medical Association.

the real cause of stress

Proxy because stress is the underlying cause of the presenting illness – leaving the real cause of stress to go unnoticed. This silent killer is responsible for more than 85% of all illness and disease. Physical challenges, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer; all masking the true culprit.

Stress can lead to addictions such as drink, drugs, food and so on in an attempt to silence the noise, but they only offer a reprieve for a short time, then we’re back to beating ourselves up for slipping of the wagon again.

How To Beat Stress

For the majority of people stress isn’t something you can beat, there will be times in life when we don’t see that stress is created from the inside out. We are so conditioned to believe that the external world is to blame for the way we feel, from time to time we’ll get caught out.

Accepting this is the place to start. Don’t see stress as the enemy, see it as a friend, reminding you that you’re not seeing how life really works in that moment. It is a signal that you’re thinking stressful thoughts, nothing more.

The feeling of stress knows nothing about whether you’re in debt or what the circumstances of your life are like, all stress knows about is that you’re caught in a thought storm of stressful thinking.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I’d learned it was my thinking what causes stress in my life that I was able to see that the places I’d been coming from was hardly the state of mind for creating a new business or even being an effective coach.

If I’d known that getting busier, pushing harder to try in an effort to fix my circumstances is actually counter intuitive when you’re not seeing with clarity, I’d have done things differently.

More effort isn’t always the answer and you could waste precious energy and resources on courses of action that won’t get you the results you desire.

So when it feels like your backs against the wall, remember to ask yourself what really causes stress? This will remind you that it’s not the other person, a lack of money or anything external to you. Stress is always caused by stressful thinking.

If you want to feel less stress what matters most is where you come from inside rather than trying to change the circumstances of your life, although I’m not saying don’t change what isn’t working, that’s just common sense.

I’m curious how stress has impacted your life?

Jamie Matthewman

About Jamie Matthewman

Jamie is the founder, main contributor and editor of The Inspired Man.

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