Let’s say a single stressful or irritating event happens. You notice, react, and then forget it. Does the stress from that event stick with you and build up? It probably doesn’t. For example, you get up in the morning and find your drawer is empty of work socks. You realize that you forgot to wash your work socks when you did the laundry yesterday. You experience a moment or two of irritation. Then you put on the same socks as yesterday and decide to wash your socks tonight while you are watching TV.
Now let’s say a stressful or irritating event occurs and you place special importance on it by adding it to your negative balance sheet in your mind. You interpret it as more than a single chance event. Is the stress from that event cumulative? It probably is. Using the sock example, you decide that a lack of clean socks is just one more sign you are a failure and you will never get your life organized. Further, you believe it is probably a sign that you are not meant to go to work today and you call in sick. The way you interpret and react to little life events can lead to increased stress and increased risk of relapse.