Leadership Development

Discover the Real Source of Stress…and move beyond it.

In the Unstoppable Workshop, we begin with an amazing experience called “Inside and Outside the Box” created by my friend Jimbo Clark of Innogreat. It’s like an NLP 101 course, on steroids, and it is 100% hands-on. In the exercise, participants receive an actual cardboard box that fits over their heads, and decorate and eventually wear it. (As in the photo!)  

The fast-moving process involves getting to know the different parts of ‘the Box’ (the Mind) and understanding how the Box can be a trap or can be used to escape from limitations. It is great fun and invariably produces a wide range of useful insights and ‘aha’ responses.

In this short article, I invite you to explore the relationship between “the Box” and ‘stress’ and see how this opens up new ways of seeing, and Being Unstoppable. Most people operate from an outmoded model of stress…and that can be…stressful. It is time to move beyond the old model.

 The Outside of The Box: This is the self-image you present to the world, the way you want to be perceived by others. It’s who you think you are. “This is me…accept this as me,” it seems to say. In fact, it takes a huge effort to maintain the ‘ideal’ image you want in the minds of others. Mostly, it doesn’t work over the long term. Result: worry or stress about how you are failing to convince others ‘this is me.’

It is in truth an attempt to control the minds of others…as if saying…”If I can get THEM to believe this is who I am…I’ll be OK.” This in turn is based on the idea, the belief, that who you really are isn’t already enough…so you must present an image based on your belief about who you SHOULD BE…and if it doesn’t work, if it fails…then you see yourself as a failure. More stress. Then you usually try harder to prove the image is really who you are.

Here’s the problem and the irony: no one is involved in accepting the image you present. They don’t really care who you think you are. But why? Because they are busy presenting their own ideal image of themselves that they want others to accept. While you are so focused on ‘getting it right’ (also known as ‘pretending’) the others are involved in their own pretense. The whole game is stressful…and ludicrous…is it not?

Inside the Box: Filters. Opening up the Box, participants learn all about Filters: the many ways your mind colors and shades your experience in response to events. These filters include your history, language, culture, beliefs, memories, language, concepts, attitudes, thoughts, etc. The ‘stress’ you feel is a direct result of the picture of the world you get after your experience is filtered. It happens at the speed of light. Something happens in your field of awareness and your filters do their work, and, in a Nano-second you get an interpretation of ‘what this means.’

The thing that happened may not (and usually does not) ‘mean’ what your filters tell you it ‘means.’ And the ‘meaning’ you create gives you a feeling, which is often ‘stress’ or a feeling of ‘tension’ in the body. Your meaning comes to you as an image or thought…and every thought comes with a feeling in your body. Most people think the ‘stress’ was ‘caused’ by the external event.

Inside: Preferences. Next we look at the things you like and things you don’t like, your ‘preferences.’  What you consider as ‘good’ and useful and what you consider as ‘bad’ and harmful. This is also produced by your filters. If your filters result in an image or understanding that is pleasurable, you say it is good. If it produces an image, thought or feeling that is painful, you say it is bad. The good stuff lights you up and you are energized…the ‘bad’ stuff is like a dark cloud and depletes your energy. You say, ‘this stresses me out.’

Then, participants discover that Filters and Preferences are a result of the programs they have installed during the course of their early life. You can change the programs, which will change your filters and that will change your interpretation of ‘what happens’ in your life. IF…you know how to change the programs.

Learning how to change the programs is what The Unstoppable Workshop is all about. It turns out that “Inside and Outside the Box” is an effective and playful way to gain a foundation of understanding how to go beyond the Box.

The Back of the Box: “Pressure” or “Tension”. The back of the box, is all about Pressure. Tension or pressure are just alternate words for the ‘stress feeling’ in your body. You want something but it seems you can’t have it…it seems elusive or ‘difficult.’ You long to move forward…but something holds you back. This is a result of the thoughts, beliefs, concepts you have created from your programs.

If you want X but you believe ‘X’ is going to be ‘stressful’ or ‘difficult’ you will experience the tension in your body. “I want X…BUT…” creates the experience of stress. It turns out that the back of the Box is just the outcome of all the other parts of the Box…it is Holographic after all, like the mind.

OK, so what? Most people are stopped by the feeling of tension they experience between their present reality…and the imagined stress that getting a better reality is going to bring them. In other words: they have anxiety (fear) about the future.

“It is going to hurt. I might fail. People might laugh at me. It will mean I AM a failure.” So, for many, it seems better to play it safe and avoid the ‘dangerous’ actions that could produce all those ‘bad’ things. Whew! This entire process at the back of the Box is commonly known as ‘the Comfort Zone.’ In that zone you may feel safe, but, sadly, you aren’t really going anywhere.

 Going Beyond the Box. In The Unstoppable Workshop, ‘The Box’ is a foundation experience and takes a couple of hours. Upon that foundation, we deepen the understanding of stress, fear, limiting beliefs, negative self-talk and how all these things work to stop us having the lives we want…unless we stop doing the things that stop us….and start doing the things that will change our programs.

We teach participants how to make the needed changes using vivid group exercises, guided imagery, games and other active methods of experiential learning. (It turns out that mere ‘insight’ doesn’t produce much leverage for change: the leverage comes from taking specific actions to change the programs that Boxed us in.)

Back to Stress. During the course of the workshop, participants learn to distinguish two different models of ‘stress,’ one of which is an illusion and one of which provides a new way of ‘seeing’ oneself and all of life. (We are indebted to Sydney Banks and Jack Pransky for offering these models.)

 The Outside Model of Stress. In this model, it’s as if you believe certain places or situations contain lots of ‘stress particles.’ Like working at the office, being in traffic, making a presentation, job interviews, cooking dinner, etc. The belief is that if you can avoid situations with lots of those stress particles, you won’t have much stress. This model also includes ‘managing stress’ by doing yoga, exercise, meditation, singing or dancing…activities which you hope will ‘relieve stress.’

But the stress itself is imagined as coming from ‘out there’ and it seems there is little you can do to prevent it. It’s almost like the stress particles are ‘germs’ or ‘bacteria’ and if you can avoid them, you will stay well and happy. In this model, ‘stress’ is believed to be ‘inevitable’ in certain circumstances so they only solution is to come up with ways to ‘manage’ it. In this model, it seems that ‘stress’ is ‘out there’…coming at us. All those particles…that don’t exist.

The Inside Model of Stress. In this model, there is actually no such thing as ‘stress’ existing outside of your being. The idea of ‘stress particles’ is pure illusion, created by The Box. In your being (your Box) certain filters and preferences result in the feeling of tension or pressure in your body, feelings that you label as ‘unpleasant’ or…’stressful.’

All the feelings in your body are in response to some thought, idea, concept or belief…not the result of ‘what happened’ in the outer world. There is no ‘stress’ that is not preceded by a stressful thought, a meaning you created, or a label you attached. As Syd Banks liked to say, “You are always living in the feeling of your thinking.” And for the most part, the thoughts that trigger the stress occur outside your awareness.

So what? If you change the meaning of ‘what happened’ (your thought) into something that is acceptable, non-threatening or not dangerous, you will not experience stress in your body. Ever wonder why different people, in the same ‘stressful situation’ will have different responses? It is because they are processing it differently, explaining it to themselves differently and so they get different feelings. This is often called ‘re-framing’…putting a new frame around an experience so you see it or perceive it in a different way.

Once you ‘see’ this possibility, you can’t ‘un-see’ it again. You are on the way to freeing yourself from the illusion of ‘stress.’ When you don’t see the possibility of re-framing…you are stuck with whatever meaning your Box gives you. In other words, until you see that you have a choice, you don’t really have a choice. Before 1900, people were unaware of germs and so they didn’t see they had a choice about catching bacterial diseases.

Jack Pransky, in a wonderful YouTube video, explains that, “Before the discovery of germs, millions of people died from contaminated food or water and it was considered ‘just a feature of reality’…’just the way it is.’ No one understood about bacteria and so they lived and died in the ‘reality’ of dangerous diseases, beyond your control. Once germs were discovered and understood, it opened up very specific things people could do to avoid dying of those diseases, and people’s health improved hugely. It was a revolution of science, similar to the revolution of Self-Awareness that is currently unfolding on our planet.

Imagine Living Stress-Free. In The Unstoppable Workshop, you will discover that ‘stress’ is not inevitable, not ‘just the way it is’ but that you have almost complete power over whether you experience stress or not. The key lies in changing the programs that are giving you ‘stressful’ feelings and the key to changing the programs is in changing your thoughts, your beliefs, and your self-talk. Over time, your Box will ‘filter differently’ and you will have a different interpretation, a new response to life events you used to believe were automatically going to be ‘stressful.’

You will know a new freedom and a new confidence…once you SEE that life is experienced “Inside-Out’ and not “Outside-In.” Like Skynet in The Terminator, you will become Self-Aware. But unlike Skynet, being Self-Aware will not trigger the end of the world (Judgment Day) but will unleash the possibility of a new world of peace, calm, confidence.

As a result of this new way of seeing, instead of getting angry when life events don’t go the way you believe they ‘should’ you will simply become curious and ask yourself, “I wonder how I could use this.” You will no longer avoid the turbulence and waves of outer chaos…you will get busy learning how to surf them and put them to use in creative ways. You will lose your fear of imagined ‘future stressful situations’ and become truly Unstoppable.

My Invitation. I invite you to go beyond your Comfort Zone, beyond your Box, and discover the magic that awaits you there. I invite you to make an investment in your own Self-Awareness that is liberating, transformative, and provides a pathway to experiencing the life you want for yourself. 

The Unstoppable Workshop has been created using the best of experiential learning and is a safe and supportive environment in which to discover and access your full potential. Learn the specific ways to stop doing the things that stop you, and Be Unstoppable. It’s all waiting for you at The Unstoppable Workshop.

Find out more here:

Read my book, “Being Unstoppable,” here:

David Chard is a coach, facilitator and author with many decades of experience in leadership and personal development. In 2010 he founded EngagingMinds Worldwide, Inc., a company that focuses on creating conscious leaders. He created “The Unstoppable Workshop” to help people replace stress, worry, fear, anxiety with a daily experience of confidence and possibility. The workshop invites individuals to invest in their own personal development. It is also available to organizations that want to invest in their people.

Quote: “Everyone is born Unstoppable…until they accept the limiting programs (conditioning) of their culture of origin, the limiting beliefs, maxims, negative talk of those around them. Being Unstoppable is not about being super-human; rather it is about removing the barriers to the awareness of one’s fundamental Unstoppability.”