A certain amount of stress occurs in everyone's life. We are all here to grow, and because we are all growing, we will experience stress. We all have challenges. Challenges will differ depending on who and where we are on our path.
Often, people seem to experience some of the same kinds of stress. For example, because we all have physical bodies, we are all subject to various conditions, both positive and negative, to which the physical vehicle is prone. We all have certain needs, desires, comforts, and complaints. We are all responsible for our bodies and understand that it's up to us to take care of ourselves because no one else is going to do it for us. Consequently, we have to learn to eat well, exercise, and get plenty of rest and adequate sleep. As we take care of our basic needs, we find we feel good, physically.
However, if we fail to care for the physical body in one of these areas, we don't feel as good as we'd like to. If we wish to do something about it, we set about to discover what is wrong. Are we suffering from a food sensitivity or allergy? Often these sufferers may go through their entire life unaware that their discomfort or ill health may have been coming from this relatively simple condition. Again, perhaps we're tired all the time and we discover that there is, indeed, a physical cause behind our complaint.
Our Attitudes Cause Our Physical Problems
Through the study of healing, it has been discovered that the mind is responsible for the problems we find in our bodies. It is our attitudes that cause our physical problems. Further, we now understand, that though the mind may be the cause, we still have to correct the physical as well as the mental and spiritual. Therefore, in order to stay well and healthy, we are required to exert ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
The work that is required to stay healthy on all of these levels creates stress, whether we're consciously aware of it or not. If one area gets out of balance, we have to compensate in another area -- so we are continually attempting to maintain harmony between the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies. No wonder we can feel tired at times. Keeping this complex mechanism in order isn't easy, and demands much of us as we continue to grow. Thus, there are pressures from within that keep us busy. We create our own internal stresses caused by our beliefs, attitudes, emotions, and reactions to ourselves and the world around us.
In other words, because of the way we choose to perceive life, we decide whether we are going to add stress to our lives, or, instead, attempt to keep stress at a low level. If we maintain a harmonious attitude and positive outlook, we eliminate much stress that would occur if we were negative and resisted the flow of life. Staying peaceful and serene by accepting ourselves and life as it is isn't easy. Furthermore, knowing when it's time to make appropriate changes and take action is difficult as well. Not many of us are able to do this easily.
Therefore, we add stress to our lives because we are learning. The more we're willing to learn, the more stressful our lives can become. But there is a more positive side to this. The more we're willing to accept the help that's available to us, the more help we get and the calmer we become. We are then able to take on great challenges we never dreamed we were capable of simply because we've learned to rely on Divine help, which comes instantly, without fail, and with love.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
Let us imagine that as we sleep at night we make certain decisions about the day ahead. Perhaps we set up a situation that may be a bit challenging to us, just to see how we will handle it. As the condition presents itself to us, whether it is a necessary confrontation with our boss or co-worker, or whether it is the loss of our pet, let us imagine that a part of us already knows that these things are going to occur. Therefore, when the event actually happens, we may say to ourselves, "Well, here it is. I must have planned this; now how am I going to handle it? Am I going to pass this little test I set up for myself, or am I going to feel like a victim and blame others or God for putting me in this position?"
Life Can Feel Like A Play If We Allow It To
Sometimes life can feel like a play if we allow it to. It is as though we have rehearsed our roles and suddenly we're called upon to play them out as we had planned. If others play their roles as well as we play ours, the scenario works out very harmoniously indeed. The most difficult-seeming situations can be resolved as people are attuned to the play and their part in it.
Could this be why we are so often surprised when someone's behavior changes so positively to fit the situation? Suddenly Dad allows us to have the car when in our wildest dreams we never expected it would happen. Perhaps this time we want to test our sense of responsibility with the car out late at night. Intuitively, Dad knows this is the time, and all goes as planned. The father may not consciously know why he allowed the son to have the car; he probably thought he was just "in a good mood". However, in reality he is playing out his role in the play in order to help develop responsibility within his child. And, most interestingly, he knew it was the appropriate time when there was perhaps no other indication that his son was prepared for this experience. He just knew.
We're continually testing ourselves as our spirit sources guide and direct us so that we may advance, not only spiritually, but materially as well. The material life, which encompasses our work, family, financial affairs, and other concerns of a more physical nature, is just as important as the spiritual. We need to balance both aspects of life. There cannot be spiritual advancement without material conditions improving as well.
Learning How To Handle Stress
Overcoming our material challenges helps pave the way for our spiritual advancement, but keeping a balance between the two can create a great deal of stress for us. Further, the manner in which we handle that stress indicates what we need to improve on so that our lives can become more pleasant and serene.
There are many answers for stress. Some methods for handling stress are healthy and some are unhealthy. The unhealthy methods leave us potentially worse off than we were before the stressful condition. Excessive smoking and drinking are two common ways people handle stress. Overeating and spending money irresponsibly are other ways in which we handle the uncomfortable feelings that stress causes. Sleeping a great deal or watching television constantly are other methods people use to "calm down". The list can go on and on. None of these ways helps us in the long run. They only add to our problems, because they affect us negatively in other areas and do not allow for our full potential to be realized.
Yet in regard to these areas, we need to be gentle and patient with ourselves and once again trust in our process. Attempting to force these so-called negative habits out of our lives only attracts them further to us.
There are, on the other hand, other, more healthy methods for handling stress. These means may involve or at least begin with the mind, body, or spirit. We may choose to exercise in order to relieve stress. Any form of exercise or sport we choose that we like can help relieve tension. Sex also helps to relieve tension, provided that the conditions within the relationship of those involved are love-filled, peaceful, and stress-free. Eating when hungry can help to relieve stress: perhaps the body is in need of certain nutrients.
All these methods should be used in balance and not to excess. When, for example, we find that we are eating more than our body actually needs in order to relieve our stress and that it's becoming a habit, then we're into a more negative approach to handling our problems.
Changing Our Attitude and Changing Our Thinking
Mentally, as we change our attitude about life and change our thinking in the process, we can do much to eliminate old, stressful reactions. Further, as we learn to let go and let God, new patterns emerge within us that project a new approach to life. Our thinking changes, thus bringing about new, more positive conditions to us. Then again, as we become interested in delving deeper into the spiritual, we discover that learning to be still greatly reduces tension on all levels, and we become peaceful as we learn to enter into that calm place within us.
Further, once accustomed to this space where we can come for serenity, comfort, guidance and direction, we begin to develop trust in our Creator as well as in our ability to make such contact possible. As we work together with our Creator, learning to listen as well as to obey the inner voice, stress begins to feel like a condition of the past. Although we may continue to experience it periodically as we test ourselves, we don't remain in a tense situation for long. For we know that all we need to do is seek within for all that we need, whether it be comfort, love, guidance or wisdom and it will be there for us as we have asked. Further, because we've remembered to ask for God's Divine light and that all that comes to us be for the highest good, we will be safe and secure.
Therefore, let's look upon the stresses and tensions in our day as indications that we are indeed in the play, and the way in which we respond to each situation will determine whether we are ready to advance. Our goals are before us, but how we reach them is up to us. The amount of peace we have during our climb up the mountain is largely determined by how well we can form this union with our Creator. The more "involved" we are in our relationship with the divine intelligence that orders the universe, the smoother and more peaceful will be our journey up the mountain. The more we can trust, the more we can let go; the more we let go, the more we let God.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Savage Press. ©1999. www.savpress.com
About The Author
Jill Downs has a BA in sociology and has worked as a licensed practical nurse; facilitated family groups in recovery; has experience working with the elderly in nursing homes and the dying in hospice. At present she conducts workshops on personal and spiritual growth. These essays are her way of helping every reader become fully human, fully conscious and engaged in this wonderful journey called life.