What Causes Stress?

Psychologists will tell you, according to Darren Hardy in his best seller, The Compound Effect, “Nothing creates more stress than when our actions and behaviors aren’t congruent with our values.” I think I disagree.

I lead a business book group and we just read this book because it had dramatically altered the life of a member’s husband. Our group creates the questions for the discussion by each writing two questions for the bowl and we pull the questions out for discussion. It’s a great way to uncover broad aspects of a book that a single leader might miss. This was one of those situations.

Page 66. I missed it. I mean, I read it, sure. It didn’t settle into my bones though until someone asked a question about it. I struggled with it so much that someone asked me why I was struggling with it so strongly. Great question.

Changing the Definition of Stress

A member who agreed with the premise (and most did), said, “I want to hear the situation that proves this wrong,” (or something close to that). Well, I said, Catherine’s life causes us a lot of stress and I don’t think that has anything to do with my values. “For example, if a nurse doesn’t show up, that creates stress for us,” I said. “That doesn’t have anything to do with my values,” I added. I didn’t want to go too deep about it, but I was also thinking that when Catherine has a seizure, that causes me tremendous stress and I don’t think that reflects on my values either. The members quickly reframed the point and said that perhaps the thing that causes the stress is a misalignment with expectations. I could certainly agree with that!

I kept wrestling with the written premise, though – and more importantly the very good question of why this troubled me so much. Perhaps it’s because I know how much stress I feel and the possibility that meant my life isn’t congruent with my values really disturbed me. In fact, I am very intentional about living my life to reflect my values.

One of the things I’m trying to learn – consistent with my values – is to be true to who I am, rather than some notion of who I’m supposed to be. And in being true to who I am, I am learning to keep, file and delete some ideas that come across my plate. I researched the premise a bit and can’t find an original source to “the psychologists.” I could find several google pages of Darren Hardy attributions and people accepting it as fact. Maybe I could look a little harder. I think in this instance, this is going to be one of those ideas I’m simply going to choose to delete – with apologies to Darren Hardy!

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