No new stressful thoughts?

Byron Katie says there are no new stressful thoughts.

It’s a question and a pointer for exploration, as any other statement.

There are obviously new thoughts. Nobody had thought of e=mc² before Einstein. Or of Wexter before a kid thought him up a couple of weeks ago.

So what about stressful thoughts?

The first thing I have to look at is what is a stressful thought? Why is it stressful?

A thought is only stressful when I take it as true, when I make it into a belief. So a stressful thought I take as true can be, and often is, stressful.

Why is is stressful? A belief is a “should”, and the world doesn’t always cooperate with my shoulds. Even when it does, I know it can change at any moment, and that in itself is stressful.

So there are no new stressful thoughts, because stressful thoughts are what we usually call beliefs, and beliefs are all “shoulds” about the world, independent of their content. In that sense, they are not new, just variations on the same theme.

I should be healthy. I am not. I experience stress. People should be fair. They are not. I experience stress. I need more money. I don’t have more money than I have. I experience stress. I need people to like me. They don’t always. I experience stress.

Stressful thoughts are variations of the same theme of “should”. The world should be different from it is.

The next step is to look at content of beliefs. Are there no new stressful thoughts in terms of their content?

In other words, are there universal stories we use to create stress for ourselves?

I imagine that each culture have some unique stressful stories, or at least some themes that are especially emphasized and in the foreground. In our culture, some of these themes may be around body and appearance, money, status, living the expected life with a good education, job and family in the right sequence and at the right time, and so on.

And if we look at underlying assumptions more closely, these basic themes our surface beliefs are variations on, we may find that these are quite universal across cultures.  I need to do the right thing. I need people to approve of me. I need to stay alive. I need life to go the way I want it to.

So  there are no new stressful thoughts in a couple of different ways. They are all beliefs and have a shared “should” built into them. And they may all be variations on universal themes – found when we look at the underlying assumptions of surface beliefs.

And finally, there are no new stressful thoughts, because thoughts in themselves are not stressful.

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And finally, there are no new stressful thoughts, because thoughts in themselves are not stressful. They become stressful first when we tell ourselves they are true. 

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There may also be more universal beliefs around shared themes, especially around fitting in.

And if we look at underlying assumptions more closely, these basic themes our surface beliefs are variations on, we may find that these are quite universal across cultures.

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Within a culture, most of our stressful thoughts may be variations on the same themes.

And there may also be universal beliefs across most or all cultures, especially when we look at the underlying assumptions and basic beliefs. I am not good enough. Something is wrong. I need people to like me. I need to stay alive. Life should go as I want it to.

So in terms of content of beliefs, there may be variations – often cultural – at their surface expression. But their underlying assumptions, our basic and simple belief, may be quite similar, even universal.

Here too, if we go to the most basic level of beliefs, there may be no new stressful thoughts. They are all variations on a theme, different expressions of the same basic and simple beliefs.

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So there are no new stressful thoughts, because stressful thoughts are beliefs, and beliefs are all “shoulds” about the world, independent of their content. In that sense, they are not new, just variations on the same theme. 

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So in a couple of different ways, there are no stressful thoughts.

There are no stressful thoughts, new or otherwise, because thoughts in themselves are not stressful. (Not really what BK meant.)

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Why is is stressful? A belief is a “should”, and the world doesn’t always cooperate with my shoulds. Even when it does, I know it can change at any moment, and that in itself is stressful.

So in that sense, there are no new stressful thoughts. Independent of their content, they are all shoulds, and shoulds are inherently stressful. I make myself at odds with the world. I work against what is, instead of with it.

Stressful thoughts are not new, because they are all shoulds.

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