Excerpt from The End of Stress by Don Joseph Goewey.

There’s a tool that can facilitate a shift from stress to peace and reverse the damage an unhealthy mind-set can cause. It’s called the Thought Awareness Tool: I could see peace instead of this.

The first step in utilizing this tool is to be aware of stressful, fearful thoughts, anxiety-provoking situations, “offending” personalities or events, and anything else that provokes in you stressful, unkind, hostile, or pessimistic thoughts. Note them all casually, and notice the way these thoughts morph into negative emotions that produce a perception of threat.

As you experience each of these negative feelings, don’t try to change them. Just observe them, and if you criticize, blame, or condemn yourself for thinking and feeling negatively, simply observe this as another negative thought. As you observe stress-provoking thoughts, tell yourself, This thought or feeling exists in me, not in reality. Then take a moment and allow the truth of this to sink in. Don’t believe the stressful thought. The reason behind this practice is that if you don’t believe an anxious, stressful, pessimistic thought, it will have no power. It will simply be a thought that comes and goes instead of turning into stress, anxiety, or depression.

Once you have done this, tell yourself, I could see peace instead of this. Focusing on the idea of a peaceful alternative, and repeating this idea to yourself in an unhurried manner, will help your perception of the world change in a positive way.

Finally, as your attitude shifts, remember that although negative thoughts and feelings are in you, they are not you. They come and go like clouds. But the essence of your being is like the blue sky these clouds travel through and sometimes cover. Let your mind go completely and become the blue sky for a moment.

Practice the Thought Awareness Tool every day, throughout the day, until it becomes your immediate response to stress-provoking thoughts and perceptions. You will find the step-by-step process for using this tool at the end of the chapter, along with the link for downloading a copy of it.

As you practice this process, your lower brain will begin to quiet down. Most of our stressful, anxious thoughts happen unconsciously, outside of our awareness. Until these thoughts are made conscious, they will continue to automatically trigger the stress response system. But as the lower brain begins to receive the message from you that this or that thought is just a thought, not an emergency, and that there is nothing to fear, it will begin to stand down. This will not only preserve the energy that stressful thinking drains, but it will prevent you from acting on a paranoid thought and misperception in a way you’ll later regret.

If your day is particularly busy or stressful, you can use a shorter application of this tool. Whenever a fearful thought begins to make inroads into your emotional well-being in the form of depression, anxiety, or worry, intervene by simply by taking a deep breath, letting your mind go for a moment, and then silently stating, “I can replace this feeling of [depression, anxiety, or worry] with peace.” Keep repeating the idea until you feel some sense of relief.

The key to using the Thought Awareness Tool effectively is using it repeatedly. At first, it might feel awkward or difficult to apply, and even hard to remember to do it, but stick with it. The more you practice it, the easier it becomes to do and the more it works. Eventually it changes your brain’s autopilot from one that habituates stress to one that keeps you at peace.

The following examples reveal the enormous difference the Thought Awareness Tool can make. These examples present two people with very different problems, but who stress about their particular problem in the same way.

The first example is of a man whose wife recently died after a long illness. In his grief, he ruminates over things he thought he could have and should have done for her, and these thoughts eventually morph into the fear that he’s failed her. He thinks he should have quit work and stayed home with her in the last few months of her life, forgetting that doing so would have run the risk of losing his health insurance. He mulls over his wife’s last few days, as she went in and out of consciousness. He feels there might have been something more he could have done to help her survive the crisis. All of this recrimination snowballs into a litany of mistakes he perceives he’s made over their thirty-year marriage, culminating in his judgment that he was not the good husband he’d once believed himself to be. This initial reaction is common for people who’ve lost a loved one.

The second example is something that happens every day in business. It’s the shock that senior managers feel when the company loses a major client, causing a significant loss of revenue. Of course, this represents a real crisis that requires clear thinking, but initially the crisis can overwhelm leaders. At first they become angry and often point the finger at other people, but soon they find their own finger pointing back at them. They can become frightened by all the mistakes their fear says they must have made. “The buck stops with me,” a leader usually says, “so I must have failed in some way.” This turns into the fear of having failed everyone from investors to employees to their family. Their emotional overwhelm completely discounts the fact that for years, they have led a successful division that provided exciting jobs and a good living for scores of people. They are smart enough to deal with the situation, and know that they have to quickly come up with a plan and rally the troops, but their present state of mind immobilizes them.

Both of these people in the examples had allowed their fear to dominate their attitude and cause them to think negatively about themselves. This self-condemnation makes a difficult situation worse. The downturn in attitude in both examples is a result of believing thoughts that are fundamentally untrue. When fear grips the mind, it becomes difficult to see how simply eliminating fearful thoughts can instantly make everything better, including higher-brain function. The prescription is to begin monitoring painful, stress-provoking thoughts and observe how much of one’s painful emotional state is a product of thoughts, not reality. The next step is to refute stressful thoughts simply by refusing to believe any of them. Accomplishing this is a matter of going past whatever the negative ego says until one reaches the refreshing, elevating experience on the other side of not believing the painful picture fear paints. What naturally emerges is a calmer, more intelligent, more realistic and optimistic way of seeing and being that opens the way to moving forward. In the example of a grieving husband, once the way forward becomes clear, the husband is free to grieve his loss while holding in his heart the dignity of the love he and his wife shared; in the example of the company losing a client, the senior manager was free to look at the company’s problem fearlessly and to inspire the management team to fix it.

The End of Stress: Four Steps to Rewire Your Brain

The End of Stress: Four Steps to Rewire Your Brain

We all understand that stress damages our health, decreases emotional intelligence, lowers performance, and limits our potential to succeed. Yet studies show that more than 80 percent of us are doing nothing about it.

If you are part of the 80 percent, make no mistake; stress is serious. It can shorten lifespan by 10 years. It isn’t something you should someday do something about. You need to attend to it today. And you can. There is a solution to stress. Not stress management, not stress relief, but the end of stress.

After years of research and testing, Don Joseph Goewey has developed this simple yet powerful 4 step process that you can easily apply to your daily life. One to two months of using these tools and processes, and you will finally be able to say goodbye to the ubiquitous stress that has thwarted your goals and your happiness.

This method, which is based in neuroscience, has achieved unprecedented results in high pressure work environments within large organizations. The shift it facilitates not only alleviates your stress, but also establishes the neurological condition for higher brain function to expand and flourish, leading to greater success with your goals, more joy in your work, and more peace at home. 4 Steps, 8 Weeks, the end of stress.


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