Stress, in addition to being itself and the result of itself, is also the cause of itself.
From "The Spirit of Buddhism: The Future of Dharma in the West," by Sogyal Rinpoche:
So often we make something huge out of a simple problem, and blow it out of all proportion. How many of our difficulties start with one tiny misunderstanding: someone didn't give us their usual smile today; our teacher gave us a stern look or our best friend criticized us; this morning's cup of coffee tasted bitter; we woke up feeling a bit cranky... that's all it takes to ruin our whole day! We can find ourselves so fragile, so frail and vulnerable that any offhand remark, any hasty reaction or ill-timed joke, can puncture our confidence completely. If we don't catch the misunderstanding there and then, it can act like a seed that germinates and grows bigger and bigger...
We revel in self-pity or depression. But above all, we cannot let go of it. As if hell-bent on bringing everything to a painful point, almost as if we wanted to take revenge on someone or something-which always turns out to be ourselves-we lurch unfailingly toward a crisis. Meanwhile our delusion, or our depression, looms like some macabre sculpture we are fashioning, or a building we are feverishly constructing, enlarging and extending, and finally topping with the discovery of some deep-seated, ancient problem, so that everything is assembled into an ideal home, complete with all the best reasons why we should be depressed. Yet what escapes us all along, apart from the fact that our problem is not even that serious, let alone disastrous, is this: it is built from nothing! It does not really exist.
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