Do you have a creed? Perhaps you’re not aware of one but, like everyone, you have a set of beliefs that you carry inside of yourself.
This is the third arena of three which can leave you open to feeling threatened and then open to taking actions to defend yourself.
To refresh your memory the first arena was all about worth and if you were to make a list to describe it you might start each item with “I am” or “I am valuable because…”
The second arena could be described in a list where each item starts with “I need…”
The one we are looking at in this edition would start with the words “I believe …” Your list, like mine, will have some big beliefs such as “I believe in God” or “I believe in life after death” covering your view of the universe.
Further down your list, maybe beliefs about morality, justice and fairness.
Even further down your list there will be a thousand beliefs of which you may not even be aware.
“I believe people should wash the coffee mug they use”; “I believe people should not touch my lunch in the fridge”.
Let me make some observations for you.
Behind every stress in your life there will be a belief of yours somewhere that has been challenged and you have become irritated.
Second, it is often in these large sets of smaller beliefs where the stress gets generated. You may get frustrated if someone challenges your faith in God but, unless you are being persecuted for your faith, fights far more frequently break out over coffee mugs, parking spaces or working practices.
As with the needs list, the longer the beliefs list the more likely you are to be offended.
Perfectionists, legalists and very conservative religious people tend to have longer lists and are often more stressed. When you are stressed it may help you to see if you can find your belief in the equation.
A tip for finding your belief is to look for the shoulds, shouldn’ts, oughts or ought nots in your mind (people should be more…less… etc.).
Like the needs list if you can shorten your list by saying things like “Does that really matter?” or “Do I have to be offended by that?” or even “Could I adjust my belief here?”
In the culture of Jesus’ day, the authorities kept wanting to add more and more rules and regulations. For example, one commandment covered keeping one day in seven separate (holy) and so kept apart for God and rest.
Not content with this ‘don’t work’ principle the leaders decided to define what did and did not constitute work. Eventually there were hundreds of regulations prescribing what could and could not be done on the Sabbath.
Jesus was criticized for healing on the Sabbath or eating some bread on the Sabbath. He was not an angry man, but this kind of thinking did provoke his anger.
If you want to see global stress reduction in action watch how Jesus kept reducing the lists of commandments down and down until the end there was just one. Love. Love God. Love your neighbour. Love yourself. At one point he explained that the only way to tell his followers was “Do they love one another?”
Here is stress reduction in action. But there is a twist, there always is with the Nazarene, namely that he recognized that in and of ourselves we could not obey even this one command to love.
So, you find him saying “Without me you can do nothing” Using the picture of a vine as his example he described himself as the main vine and his followers as the branches. Stay connected and the nourishment and energy source will flow into you.
In other words, if you are fed with energy from Jesus of Nazareth, he will empower you to keep the only commandment that matters, namely that of love. He will teach you what it means and in so doing reduce your stress levels dramatically.
Love has a million applications, but only One source. When you believe that, and that belief is sustained by the nourishment of God your lists will stay small.
Coming soon in the Pandemic Series, The Three Ring Circus of Stress.
Work well today,
© Geoff Shattock July 2019
35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
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