The Positive Side of Stress (Part 3)

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Eventually coming into contact with my potential as a writer, the confidence that I gained through my diligent practice of the art started to override the fear and doubt that until then had been sabotaging my efforts in a variety of ways. Becoming more integrated in this respect, my passion and creative juices began to flow more freely, which allowed me to experience writing as joyful. Feeling that positive energy and trusting in the wisdom that it inspired, the quality of my work improved dramatically because the walls of resistance had been broken down by my spirit that had grown tired of being supressed by the onerous weight of my distress.

While an experience of eustress can acquaint us with the infinite nature of life, and by so doing inspire a deeper level of engagement with all that it encompasses, distress has the contrary effect of separating us from our spiritual nature. Closing us off mentally, emotionally and physically, our ability to meaningfully connect with the experiences of our life is diminished to an extent that we forget what it truly means to be alive.

Think of a time when you felt distress at work. Having, for example, an unreasonable deadline to meet or an uncooperative boss to deal with, these challenging circumstances that were likely perceived as unsettling, would have interfered with your focus and ability to execute, and as a result your best efforts were compromised. Subdued by the waves of negative thoughts and emotions that filled your mind and body in response to these happenings, your creative and intuitive spark would not have ignited to contribute to the work, in the way that it otherwise would have if you had been in a more centred state of peace and clarity.

Our relationships are also negatively impacted by the distress that we feel. Consumed by the source of our perceived problems, we give less freely to those who we love, and what little we manage to offer them is tainted by the negativity that we project onto them. Taking away from the quality of the relationship, they will be less inclined to be present and supportive of us, not understanding the true source of our discontent.

This is why it is important to be vulnerable and open when we are burdened by distress. Sharing our struggle with others who are willing to be there for us unconditionally, our load is lightened to the point that we become capable of effectively dealing with those testing circumstances. Receiving the benefit not only of their loving and accepting energy, but also their broader perspective, solutions are given the space to emerge and ease our distress.

Appearing also in prayer, meditation and contemplative solitude, these breakthroughs come to us through the process of surrender that sees us turn our problems over to the presence of God within. Giving us the strength, insight and wisdom to deal with these challenges gracefully, we will return to a state of balance from which we can experience more positive and uplifting forms of stress.

By saying yes to eustress, we can move to a higher realm of being and functioning that make the moments of our lives more enjoyable and fulfilling. While life is fraught with challenges, we need not let them overcome us. Ultimately, we have the power to choose our responses to the events and circumstances of our lives, so it is with courage that we must give ourselves to the happenings of life that prompt us to growth. I achieved a great result for Advanced Quantitative Research Methods and have since moved further along in my academic journey. Understanding and embracing the positive side of stress made that possible, and without it I would have remained stuck, which would have been a failure far greater than not getting the required marks to pass the unit.

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Enabling the Acorn to Flourish (Part 2)

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We cannot truly prosper if we are lying to ourselves about who we essentially are. Wearing this false facade, our divine purpose will be prevented from rising to the surface of our being. With this purpose being trapped in the realm of the heart, we will experience great tension and uncertainty, until we find the courage to reconcile the fractured aspects of our being with that source of wholeness that is otherwise known as spirit.

This I know from personal experience. It wasn’t until I gave up my career practicing law that my love and talent for writing and teaching was able to shine through. Holding onto my inauthentic identity, I deprived myself of the opportunity to reveal to the world the essence of who I am. With the tension of my incongruity becoming too much to bear, I effected the shift from a career to a calling within myself. Travelling down the unique path that is mine to walk, I now enjoy a quality of life that far surpasses the drudgery that my previous life represented.

Doing what I love and loving what I do, I sometimes can’t believe the journey that I have been on, and the transitions that with the benefit of hindsight, were not made soon enough. This, I don’t regret however, for I have come to learn that every shift is made in perfect time. Not having previously been ready to bring forth my greatest gifts, I was really no different than the many people who let fear get in the way of the love that they have for what they really want to do.

Everyone has something that they genuinely love to do. Whether it is dancing, cooking, mentoring, caring for animals or raising children, your vocation is the cherished endeavour that you could easily spend your time doing, even if you weren’t getting paid for it. Capturing your attention and awakening your passion, your calling is what brings meaning to your efforts and fulfilment to your heart. Making you feel alive, it is what provokes the state of flow which allows you to perform to the best of your present moment ability. Stimulating wildly your curiosity and imagination, this call to actualise the best version of yourself, powerfully motivates you to evolve and pursue a vision that makes a positive impact on the course of human history.

When I contemplate this aspect of a vocation, my mind turns to the remarkable legacies left by Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Václav Havel. Prophetic figures who wholeheartedly gave themselves to a vision and brought it about, they fulfilled in life their highest potential, and died without experiencing the regrets of the half-lived life. Doing what they knew they were put on earth to do, the impact that they had was vast, and the commitment that they had for their cause still resonates powerfully in the world today.

With this I ask you, how intense is the love that you have for that which you spend the majority of your time doing? If you have no love for, or derive no meaning from, what you do for work, then I can guarantee you that you are not living in alignment with your calling. If you wake up every day dreading what is ahead, then I would recommend doing something different that allows you to express the light that you have within. If this can’t be done now for legitimate reasons, then I would suggest taking small steps towards your calling, so that the stage can be set for more intimately engaging with it in the future. It is not always realistic or wise to dramatically change course, especially when others are dependent on us to provide for them, but we should not let this of itself, deter us from doing what we know in our heart is the right thing to do.

What is right for us at the spiritual level, will always be right for those whom we love. In this, we must not harbour the fear that living our vocation will negatively impact our loved ones. Harmoniously pursued and balanced with other responsibilities, their reasonable concerns should be allayed, and their support won by our willingness to include them on the journey. So much of the resistance that is encountered in this respect, stems from our ego based tendency to single-mindedly pursue one thing to the exclusion of all else.

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