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The Great Gift of Stress

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The Great Gift of Stress

Why you need life’s pressures.
Robert Holden Ph.D.
Robert Holden Ph.D. More by this author
Sep 04, 2011 at 10:00 AM

“What seems to be the problem?” I asked.

“Life,” my client muttered.

“Is that all?” I replied.

“Yes,” he said.

“Can you be more precise?”

“No—it’s just a severe case of life.”

“Do you feel stressed?”

“I don’t get stressed,” he huffed.

The shame of stress is double trouble. It is a trap that blocks healing and causes great pain. I remember soon after my Stress Busters Clinic opened we mailed 5,000 local businesses offering a free in-house Stress Busters seminar. We anticipated a big response because the city was in the middle of an economic slump and times were hard. We received a grand total of two replies.

One reply was from a Senior Occupational Health Nurse of a motor company. She wrote, “My CEO informs me we have no stress problems. Is this a symptom of stress? Thanks anyway!” The other reply was from a Human Resources Officer at a hospital. She wrote, “Yes please, we definitely need it! My only concern is if we call it a ‘Stress Seminar’ those who need it most will be put off.”

One common misperception of stress is, stress is bad. Stress is certainly a challenge, but it need not necessarily be “bad,” “wrong,” or “shameful.” Stress only becomes “bad” if you handle it “badly,” either by burying it, fighting it, blocking it, avoiding it, or lying about it. The key to managing stress is to work with it, not against it.

Stress is a message. It is a personal invitation to make a change for the better. It is an internal memo that reads, “URGENT—look after yourself!” or “HELP—get support!” or “EMPTY—recharge yourself!” or “IMPORTANT—work smart, not harder!” Stress is not a punishment. It is not a weakness. Stress is information. Use it.

Success with stress starts with inner listening. Listen to your stress; don’t block it. What is your stress trying to tell you? Listen for information. What is your stress trying to teach you? Be ready to learn something. How is your stress trying to help you? Be open to receive a great gift. It pays to listen fast because otherwise the messages just get bigger and louder.

Being inauthentic is the biggest cause of stress. Whenever you are not true to yourself—to your heart, your values, and what is really important—you will get messages. Similarly, when you stop listening to your intuition, your wisdom, your higher mind, and to God, you will experience fear and egoism.

The following “Straw into Gold” questionnaire is an aid to inner listening. It is named after an old alchemy principle that encourages you to use everything, even stress, for your highest purpose. What is your stress really about?

What is the fear? Stress always operates with its accomplice—fear! Listen to the fear that is driving your stress. Is the fear a fact, or is it a Fantasy Experienced As Real?

Where am I not being authentic? You are not in your true power when you stray from your values or when you try to people-please. Commit to being honest with yourself.

Who am I not being honest with? Who are you avoiding, attacking, or playing small with? What are you not saying? Who could you be communicating more honestly with?

What am I not giving? If you are not fully committed or fully present you will experience struggle and dissatisfaction. Often what is missing is what you are not giving.

What am I not receiving? Imagine how much better your life would be if you decided to be a great receiver. Picture how abundant your life would be.

Who can help me? Be open to receiving great support, inspiration, and friendship. Drop your pride, and help will appear.

What am I not listening to? There is enough wisdom within you to inspire a whole world. Listen to your intuition. Follow your heart. Dial direct to God. Be open to the highest thought.

What is the lesson here? One of my own favorite mottos is, everything is teaching you something. Be willing to receive a beautiful lesson right now.

How can I be smarter? Maybe you are stressed because you are trying too hard. Be still and rest awhile. Make way for real inspiration. Use less effort and more wisdom.

What is my real goal? Stop looking at the clock, and check your compass. What is your true north? What is your intention? What is real success? Choose now to get back on track.

There is an old saying, “You are as sick as the secrets you keep.” Stress is an opportunity to be more honest, more focused, and truer to yourself. This is important because stress is often self-attack. Shift happens when you choose to resist nothing and use everything for your highest good.

About Author
Robert Holden Ph.D.
Robert Holden Ph.D.’s innovative work on psychology and spirituality has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, a PBS show called Shift Happens! and a major BBC documentary called How to Be Happy, shown in 20 countries to o Continue reading