Stressed? You’re Thinking About Yourself
Good Thoughts Podcast / Dr. Gary Epler with Host Joan Epler
Dr. Gary Epler – The new way of life is being your true self thinking from the heart with kindness and from your mind with creativity. Today we’re going to talk about why thinking about yourself causes stress and what to do about it.
Joan – Let’s begin, what are ten thoughts that mean you’re thinking about yourself?
Here they are: (1) Thinking about your problems. (2) Being angry at yourself and negative self-judgment. (3) Feeling sorry for yourself. (4) Thinking about someone blaming you, criticizing you, or complaining about you. (5) Comparing yourself to others. 6) Trying to be someone else, especially the perfect person you’ve created in your head. (7) Thinking about getting even, retaliation, or revenge. (8) Feeling guilty, jealous, or resentful. (9) Worrying. (10) Finally, thinking about what other people think of you.
Why does thinking about yourself cause stress?ho you are in your heart. For:
What’s the new MRI?
It’s called functional MRI (fMRI) and shows the part of the brain where people are thinking from. For example, have a group of people take the functional MRI and give them a simple task, “Don’t think about yourself.” If they do, a red light will go on.
It doesn’t take long, after a couple of minutes, people start thinking about their problems, comparing themselves to others, or feeling bad about themselves – triggering the red light. After about three weeks, they learn to keep the red light off and stop thinking about themselves.
What part of the brain are people thinking from?
When people think about themselves, they’re thinking from the cingulate region of the brain. This is the primitive, crocodile brain. It’s for instinctive reactions that will save your life in an emergency. This cingulate brain region is not for thinking about yourself. As you’ll find out, I call this the “stress center,” a much better word than the cingulate.
What do you mean?
Let’s check in on everyone three to six months later. They’re healthier. Their heart rate and blood pressure are improved. They’re more productive and three times more creative. They enjoy life. They’re better friends and better citizens. To me, this is an amazing result, even better than any pills I know about. Eliminate stress by not thinking about yourself, or if you’re stressed, you’re thinking about yourself. It’s easy to do and doesn’t cost anything.
That’s a huge breakthrough! Can you have examples of when you think about yourself?
Some are obvious such as any time you think about your problems or you’re angry with yourself. Other examples may not be so obvious such as comparing yourself to others or trying to be someone else. This is stressful. Another example, people often try to be like the made-up person in their head that can do everything. Being like this perfect person will never be attained and causes severe stress. Other examples include thinking about getting even or retaliation against another person. This causes a negative feeling and stress. Feeling guilty and being resentful also gives you an unhealthy feeling. Worry is a special consideration because exploring this further will show you that you’re thinking about yourself. Finally, thinking about what other people think of you is of no value and causes stress.
Is there thinking that causes stress that people don’t know about?
This is a major issue. The ten thoughts we’ve talked about are obvious; however, if you’re stressed and not thinking about any of these, that means you’re still thinking about yourself. Then you need to find out the cause.
Can you give an example?
If you’re spending more money than you’re making, you’re going to be stressed because you either are forced to make more money or sell your house. The stress is coming from thinking about yourself. You need to find out why because you can only think from one location at a time. If you’re thinking about yourself from the cingulate stress center, you can’t think from the mind with creativity and solving the problem. Trying and fighting to make money causes stress. The key word is trying, as this means you’re going to get rejection after rejection that leads to feeling sorry for yourself, blame, and always comparing yourself to others. Trying to make money means you’ll check emails every five minutes, set unrealistic goals, and feel angry when your life savings has an off day. All these thoughts are thinking about yourself in a negative way leading to severe stress, increased blood pressure, and an adverse health outcome. Working and making money by thinking from the heart and from the mind with solving problems are not stressful. Trying and fighting to make money is stressful.
Joan – That’s a complicated example and difficult to understand. The important lesson is if you’re stressed, you need to find out how you’re thinking about yourself. Do you have a call to action?
Dr. Gary Epler – This is what I would like to have you do: First, realize when you’re thinking about yourself. Second, instantly change to thinking from the heart with kindness to yourself. Third, explore and determine the reason or cause of thinking about yourself and permanently stop this thinking. Strive for zero-level stress. This is a new way of life to live every day filled with high energy, creativity, and enjoyment.