We know it from its crushing grip. We identify it by its crippling weight. Its not-so-subtle waves of exhaustion and overwhelm. Its tell-tale undercurrent of anxiety about the future, mixed with paralyzing fear that the other shoe is about to drop.

Stress Is a Symptom of Our Resistance to Change

Stress Is a Symptom of Our Resistance to Change

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

— Anaïs Nin (more quotes)


Hans Selye, the Austrian-Canadian physiologist and researcher who first coined the term “stress” in the 1930s defined it this way: “Stress is the nonspecific response of the body to any demand for change.”

Put another way, it’s not the events in our lives that cause the stress — it’s our resistance to them.

It’s not our circumstances; it’s our unmet expectations, tangled up in our ideas of what should have been.

It’s not the changes, themselves; it’s our refusal to accept them when they arise.

It’s not that we are powerless; it’s that we are choosing to honor the “devil we know” at all costs, even if that means resigning ourselves to a life spent forcing square pegs into round holes.

But the truth is, stress isn’t a sickness to manage — it’s a symptom of our greater disease. A sign that our old ways of doing things are no longer working. A signal that we’re being invited to transform in some major (and therefore, uncomfortable) way, but are refusing to answer the call.

So today, friends, let’s vow not to ignore these whispers, but to listen for them. To honor them. To choose to see them for what they really are: an invitation to grow.

Because stress is nothing more than a sign that our presence is being requested.

It’s how we respond that matters.