Each of us are called to grow and evolve as human beings, and eustressful experiences assist in this process. Awakening us to the wealth of potential that is inherent in our being, these experiences allow us to more fully access and express our innate wisdom, natural talents, and spiritual virtues, such as courage, resilience and engagement.
What these eustressful experiences look like will ultimately be determined by the essence of the person experiencing them, their level of consciousness and the associated beliefs which shape how they see themselves and the world. With this, the individual experiencing eustress will likely have a positive perception of the ‘stressor’, or at least be open to its presence in the context of their life.
Having a negative perception of a person, thing or event generates internal resistance which leads to a state of distress. Someone who doesn’t like skydiving, for example, because they fear that it will cause them to die, will not enjoy the experience of thinking about skydiving, let alone doing it. Compare this to the experience of the person whose passion is skydiving. Loving the process of jumping from a plane and free falling before activating their parachute and floating back down to terra firma, their response to the same stimulus will be characterised by intense pleasure and exhilaration.
With the former person who has negative associations with the activity of skydiving, they would experience significant distress if they were made to jump out of a plane. The latter individual, on the other hand, will not have this barrier between their being and the activity, which will allow them to truly engage with the process and experience eustress as they embark on their aerial joy ride.
Now, it might be possible for the former person to experience eustress when skydiving, if under the fear of the activity, they have an undiscovered liking for it, but until they move past that fear through repeated exposure, they will continue to experience distress as a response to the stimulus of skydiving. Sometimes it is the case that our greatest fears are centred in the area of our true spiritual giftedness. Not being ready to honour our integrity and embrace our innate potential for greatness, we will experience many of the facets of our authentic purpose as pain producing sources of distress.
For so many years I absolutely despised reading, and would not pick up a book if you paid me to. Having a very negative view of education because of my repressive early high school experience and the pain that I had endured through the death of my father during that time, I wasn’t open to any form of learning, and I actively rebelled against the process. It was only after I grew a little older and matured that I realised the importance of education, and when the penny finally dropped, a shift occurred in me that revealed a great love of books.
Consuming them voraciously for almost twenty years now, the lessons from these books have changed my life in so many ways, and I enjoy nothing more than the time that I spend in solitude reading about things that expand my horizons. Nourishing my being while challenging my base of knowledge, I experience a high level of eustress whenever I engage in this activity. What once caused me distress now has the opposite effect, but to get to that point, I had to do a lot of inner work and clear up some negative misperceptions that I had towards learning that were holding me back in life.
Another massive shift in my life took place when I finally allowed myself to fully embrace writing. Until that time I had resisted it heavily because I thought that it required a level of talent and skill that I didn’t have, or ever think that I would have. Being a substantial intrinsic barrier that caused me much distress when I first put pen to paper, it was a feeling that persisted while I remained detached from my calling, even though I was taking steps to explore it more deeply.