You want to be happy.

Love-life blooming, work swinging merrily along, money in the bank and all well in your world.

But here you are with a broken heart, bills that don’t stop coming, not enough hours in your day and work demands that are relentless.

It feels like you don’t have a chance in hell of living the life you used to imagine living when you were more carefree and optimistic.

It’s no wonder the twin monsters of stress and anxiety are stealing your peace and joy.

Yes, there are days when things seem to be coming together, but it’s not often enough to make a difference to that underlying anxiety, and somehow you never seem to grasp the magic formula that worked for that one day when everything went your way.

If you can relate to any of this, and I know there are times when I can…you don’t have to splurge on the latest expensive workshop for anxiety or managing stress. 

You have a lot more control than you think.  All you need is a little context, a little shift and some new rules.

1. Build a cathedral

Three masons were chipping chunks of granite.

The first mason, who wasn’t very happy as he chipped away was asked what he was doing. “I’m cutting stone and I hate it.  I can’t wait till it’s time to go home.”

The second mason when asked the same question responded, “I’m hammering away at this block of rock so I can make enough money to buy food for my belly.”

The third mason, pounding away fervently at the granite and taking steps back every now and then to make sure it was the best he could do,  when questioned about his work, stopped looked towards the sky and proudly proclaimed “I’m building a cathedral.”

Three men, different contexts, all doing the same work.

Be a proud cathedral builder in life. Stop every now and then and check that you’re doing your best. And whether you’ve just begun or are halfway towards your goal, be proud of what you’ve accomplished so far.

2. Manage yourself, not your anxiety or stress

Stress and anxiety happen not because of the nature of your work, or your life experiences. They happen because you aren’t managing yourself.

The CEO will complain of stress as will the junior executive, the assistant or the janitor.  And for all of them, if they lost their job…they’d still complain about feeling anxious or stressed.

So it’s not the job.

They aren’t managing their bodies, emotions and life energy in the best way.

Stress happens because we have an inability to manage ourselves.  We aren’t managing our thoughts and feelings, our imagination, or our perspective.   (Discover how you’re missing out on opportunities in life)

3. Stop accidental functioning

When you function by accident, not by design everything can cause stress and anxiety. 

If you were in a car and turned the steering wheel in one direction, but the car took off in another, you’d be somewhat anxious. Right? 

And yet here you are, with the most incredible system ever created…YOU…and you have this gigantic problem. 

You are blundering accidentally through life, because you have no control over the most basic of your systems, your mind.

It changes direction every few minutes, because there’s no driver behind the wheel. So should you be lucky enough to arrive at your desired destination it’s totally by chance.

Don’t do this to yourself.

Organize your mind to be focused on the direction of your goals, and aim towards your destiny. Use your most amazing system purposefully and almost anything you wish will happen.

4. Content versus context

If the Dean of a College, or someone else in authority began to dictate what clothes you should wear, what you should eat for breakfast, or that you had to be in bed before 10pm each evening, no doubt you’d react pretty badly.

You’d probably kick up a real fuss and claim suppression of your rights. You might even claim you were being totally disenfranchised.

But when someone outside of you determines how you should feel inside according to the actions they take, or some event or experience does the same, this is disenfranchisement of the most toxic kind.

All done with your willing support.

So stress essentially is caused by our inability to manage our inner situation and our willingness to allow everyone and everything to have an impact on how we think, feel and act.

If you want the quality of your life to change and transform it won’t be because you changed the content of your life, just the context.

Those who life the most joyful lives are not experiencing less challenges than you, but their lives are more magical and beautiful because the context within which they live is different.

They have taken back control of their inner energies and no longer allow other people, or outer events, to put a dent in what has always been an inside job…true and lasting happiness.

(Learn more about managing change)

5. Final thought

[Tweet “Stress doesn’t need to be managed.  If we managed ourselves it wouldn’t be an issue.”]

Encourage one another.

Love Elle



Elle Sommer is the author of 4 books and a workbook. Her latest publications are a series called The Power of Consciousness, and you will find all three books in this trilogy now available on Kindle. She shares quotes, inspiration and positive vibes on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And her greatest desire is to encourage and inspire others to create not just a good life, but a phenomenal life.


  1. I love the story about Cathedral building, Elle. I agree, how we think makes a big difference to our stress level. If we’re in a state of chronic stress, it can take some time to turn it around, but changing how we think and what we say to ourselves can make a big difference.

    • Hi Sandra…you are so right about the time it can take to turn ourselves around. Much like a giant ocean going liner we need a little time and a little space so we can look at stress in an entirely different light. 🙂 Then it becomes an easier process…especially because the stress we experience comes from us and the only one with control over that is US. 🙂

  2. I enjoyed the story of the cathedral building too! Hope you don’t mind that I share it with my clients or friends. I love what you said about managing ourselves to reduce stress. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Hi Evelyn…glad you enjoyed the post and please do share the story. It’s a great reminder for us all. 🙂

  3. This is interesting, Elle. “When you function by accident, not by design everything can cause stress and anxiety.” It makes sense that stress can be caused by our allowing our environment or other people to control us. So important to take charge of our lives. Thank you!

    • Hi Cathy…it is important to take control of ourselves…trouble is, it’s not the easiest thing in the world. It takes a lot of practice, but the rewards are incredible, which is why I’m willing to do the work. 🙂

  4. I think the fourth point is so important. If other people talked to and limited us like we do ourselves, we would never stand for it!Becoming aware of the inner critic and its effect on our lives is huge. Then, controlling and redirecting it is even bigger! Can make a world of difference. Thanks for the reminder

    • Isn’t that the truth Debbie…it always sounds so funny when we speak it out loud. We actually allow other people to limit us and don’t lift one little finger to put a stop to it. Isn’t that so bizarre? Yet we’re all guilty of it. I’m laughing at how ridiculous this is as I’m writing! lol 🙂

  5. One and 3 resonate for me – Love the idea of build a cathedral and I really get accidental functioning- yes that does speak to me and something I need to be mindful of thanks xx

    • Hello Suzie…I think we’re all guilty of accidental functioning. Like you, I’m keeping my eye on it in my life! 🙂

  6. Hi Elle, Very interesting. I totally agree that stress essentially is caused by our inability to manage our inner situation. Being in control of our inner energies allows us to have a better perspective of our every situation and challenges we encounter in life. Thanks for sharing a very relevant post. 🙂

    • It’s funny Sherill how our misery or joy is all about being the master of our inner world. 🙂

  7. I had a really bad car accident. Now the aftermath of everything has.taken control of my mind. I have Ptsd and Depression and Anxiety I think the worse of every pain. I’m not eating like i used to my hair is falling out no energy to do anything. I want to be back to my normal self again where there were smiles.on my face and in my heart.

    • Oh Karyn…I’m so sorry. Sending you healing light and love. May your normal brilliant smiling self be returned to you soon. Many blessings dear one. 🙂

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