“Scott, how in the world could you know the greatest stressor in my life?”
I know. It’s presumptuous. But because of my job, I listen to hundreds of men and women tell me about what’s weighing them down and preventing them from experiencing the kinds of fulfilling lives they desire.
When you begin to look past the situational issues that seem to plague so many of us (finances, health, parenting, marriage, etc.), one stressful fact remains constant: relationships.
I’m not lessening the stress that unfortunate situations cause people. Rather, I’m highlighting that our relationships are very often the single greatest cause of stress in our lives.
Because we’re all fallible humans capable of hurting each other, every one of our relationships will experience some degree of conflict sooner or later. With each new relational responsibility, the possibility for increased stress rises. Like a dam ready to burst, this stress will eventually—and maybe even torrentially—overflow into other areas of our lives.
Situational stress may mask relational stress. After all, it’s often easier to deal with a situation than with a person. But a relational problem may be the root of the situational issue. So, if we try to fix the situation without addressing the relationship problem, we may have lessened our stress for a moment, but the real issue still remains: a broken relationship.
Now, I’m not saying that other people are the cause of your stress. That’s a victimhood mentality unhealthy for any relationship. Rather, I’m saying that the relationship itself—a party of two—causes stress. Do you see the difference? When you blame others for your stress, you take no responsibility. When you blame the relationship, you have to take at least fifty percent of the responsibility (and I would argue you should take even more, but that’s for another post).
Once you realize that relationships are often the single greatest cause of stress in your life, you can discover how to better relate to others so you can experience less stress in every area of your life.
To learn more, see Chapter 10 of The Stories We Tell Ourselves.