The effects of stress-producing situations vary enormously among different individuals. The totally personal way in which we filter all events determines how stressful they are. The theory of stress must be modified to include the mind-body connections, for such invisible elements as interpretation, belief, and attitude are enormously important in the actual workings of the stress response.
External stressors are basically triggers. If you don’t feel triggered, there is no stress. A prevailing myth has arisen that some people thrive on stress. They perform best under high-pressure deadlines and blossom in the heat of competition. What’s really happening is that they aren’t being triggered physiologically.
Management of stress therefore turns out to be much more complicated than is generally supposed, because a person’s interpretation of any situation is basically projected from his memory–our reactions to new situations are always colored by our experiences in the past.
Instead of appraising each new situation afresh, we slip into old categories. Neutralizing these old impressions is essential, for otherwise you have no control over stress–the stressful event will trigger your response automatically, making you its prisoner.
Adapted from Ageless Body, Timeless Mind by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1998).