Stress Management, Well-being and Self-Care

What causes stress?

by James Porter March 12, 2017

You do. 99% of the stress you experience is caused by your thinking, your interpretation and your hardwired beliefs. Sure if you got mugged, or molested or beaten or physically threatened or even wrongfully arrested those would all be examples of stress NOT caused by you. But how often does that happen?

Now think of how many hundreds of times of day it is your PERCEPTION that traffic jams, difficult bosses, rude people, arguments with your family members, deadlines, long meetings, having too much to do and not enough time to do it are the main sources of your stress? These events are only stressful if you BELIEVE they are.

Often times what causes us the most stress are irrational thoughts like: I’m a terrible parent, or, I’m a loser, or, I’m no good at anything, or, I have the world’s worst boss, or this task is going to take forever! Once you really start tracking where your stress is coming from you will see, in the vast majority of cases, it’s coming from you and your beliefs, judgments and expectations about how things ought to be.

The basis of all mind/body medicine boils down to the fact that your body believes what your mind thinks. (The only proof you need of this - and pardon me for being totally frank here - is masturbating over a sexual fantasy.) So if you are worrying about the presentation you have to give tomorrow, or worrying about the dentist appointment you have next week or worrying about the mortgage payment you have to make next month, your brain will start to release stress chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol into your bloodstream that will cause your heart to beat faster, your muscles to tense and your blood pressure to rise.

 Eleanor Roosevelt

So the stress you experience in these situations is quite real but it is still caused by YOU. This brings to mind Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote that “nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Don’t forget, at the time she said this, Nazis were rounding up Jews in Germany and absolutely making them feel inferior without their consent. So there ARE times when stress is NOT caused by you. However most of us are fortunate to live in a world where these times are very rare.

This question was originally answered on Click here to see more of his answers on Quora. Do you have a question for Jim? Email your question to with "Ask Jim" as the subject line.

James Porter
James Porter


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