Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that wish to elect a state and remain there. This is a kind of death. – Anais Nin.
Stress is often thought of something that must be endured, as something that annoys you and vexes you until it stops. People search for ways to minimize stress, to relieve stress, to avoid it. But what if stress was really the path of your self discovery? What if stressful situations were markers along the road of your journey of self growth?
Looking at that quote from Anais Nin, stress occurs when you grow beyond your current state and must move to a newer more appropriate state for your life at that time. Since you are inside your own state, you can’t see when it is appropriate to change states. It’s a lot like another quote, this time from Alan Watts: “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.” Stress is the trigger for you to consider changing, as well as the necessity to fight the stress.
Ms. Nin equates this to a kind of death. She was speaking poetically. But in reality, a person’s refusal to grow – to change states when life demands it – can cause stress, which has bad effects on you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Staying in a state when you should change is as stressful as changing your state, which is stressful even when you need to do it.
So how is stress a journey of self-discovery?
1. It informs you when you have grown beyond your present situation. The cliché is the analogy to a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but it’s also very apt. Stress can occur when you have outgrown your boundaries but refuse to move on.
2. It means you are making progress against resistance. At some point in your journey, whatever that journey is, you will meet resistance. Whether that is an external stopping point, or an internal brake, some stress will occur when you meet the point where your progress is impeded. Stress tells you what effort t you need to overcome this sticking point.
3. It may be telling you that you have veered off the path. While you are moving along your path, your journey may seem relatively effortless. But when you get distracted, or get pulled onto side branches, stress may trey to guide you back.
4. You are on the wrong path. Let’s face it. If everyone could pick their correct path and walk on it unobstructed and unimpeded, there would a lot of coaches and HR departments out of work. Stress, internal or external, may be a signal that you are traveling the wrong way. This is why you should engage in self-examination whenever you experience stress. Not only to see how you are handling the stress, but to determine whether you even should be handling it or whether you should be changing your state.
5. You are on the right path. The path takes you somewhere. Specifically, it takes you away from where you are now. This act of leaving can cause all kinds of stress. From the stress of simply moving to the stress of straining or breaking old relationships, stress in this context tells you that you are in fact moving and making progress. Even if it doesn’t feel that way.

Treating stress separately from self-discovery is like treating your muscle soreness separate from your lifting weights. You can put all the salves and pads on your sore muscles and get some relief. But if you continue to exercise and aggravate the pain, the nit won’t get better. When you can correlate your exercise and your treatment, however, you most likely will make both of them more effective.
There are many causes of stress, and many methods of treating it. Treating it as feedback on your journey of self-discovery is one way that gives double benefits. One benefit is that your reaction to stress should be lessened form the “fight or flight” reaction to one of curiosity and investigation. Another is that you will be more sensitive to feedback, which can make your journey more effective and efficient.

Author's Bio: 

For more information on attacking and transforming stress, please get our 3 exclusive reports (The TRUTH; The REMEDY; The OVERVIEW) by joining the STRESS JUDO COACHING community. STRESS JUDO COACHING was created by Rick Carter, based on dealing with stress during 15+ years as a trial attorney and 20+ years in martial arts. You can become a black belt when it comes to fighting stress.