Not the kind that has Cortisol ripping through our bodies, leaving our muscles tight, our brains in a fog and our psyches wanting to fight, fly or freeze.
I’m talking about the kind of stress that, although it has a tinge of anxiety, is also full of its cousin, excitement. The kind of stress that stretches us to grow beyond anything we ever thought possible in our conditioned, limited minds.
This is sure to create anxiety and therefore be something that, if we are not clear that it is good stress and good for us, we will avoid at all costs. But when we step into it, a whole new way of being becomes available.
It makes sense that stepping outside of our zone of comfort, familiarity and box of things we do well would cause us to experience some shakiness, insecurity and even fear of failure, fear of not being quite up to the challenge. But the choice is between these feelings and eventual stagnation. When we aren’t growing, we are stagnating.
Our cells biologically tell us the truth: when we are in ‘protect me’ mode, the receptors on each of our cells our closed, hunkered down for survival. This comes in handy when we are literally in survival situations. We need to use all of our energy for physical continuation. We are in a holding pattern until we get back to homeostasis.
This state is meant to be temporary. But we often get stuck there; habitually believing all of our life is about survival. And then boredom, depression and lethargy sets in. Not a fun place to be.
When we can muster the energy to take even one step towards newness, bringing with us a beginner’s mind, oxytocin and dopamine start flowing into our system, improving our mood and energizing us.
Our cells respond by opening and becoming receptive and we have the capacity and support and manage the anxiety that always accompanies the new. And this is a dynamic place to live.
One of my favorite books talks about the value of good stress and more: The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. Check it out.