Dealing With Stress — How To Be At Home In Your World
THE PERSON WHO suffers from stress is always uncomfortable. He or she seems to find it impossible to adapt to people and conditions. Happenings have a way of becoming irritations. Always there are things that are wrong; consequently there is a feeling of not being able to cope with life or to handle all of the demands it makes.
On the other hand, there is the person who is at home in his or her world. This person moves easily through experience after experience with poise and freedom, handling whatever comes up in the perfect right way. Ease and joy are the order of each day.
Happily, we can all learn to be at home in our world. It is not necessary for us to suffer from stressful feelings and reactions to situations in our lives. Instead, we can be comfortable and easy, free and at peace at all times and under all circumstances — at home in our world.
One person who perfectly expresses this quality of divine adjustment and the ability to follow through with right answers and actions is Jesus Christ. Perhaps no one in all history has been so at home in his world and in command of his life. Wherever He was, Jesus not only was able to adjust to the press of the crowd or the time of solitude, but He also was able to maintain His peace and dignity, relaxation and freedom, while taking command of the situation whenever it was necessary. Just by being there, in the fulness of His spiritual mastery, He was in command of His life and His surroundings.
When He appeared before Pontius Pilate, a very powerful Roman executive, it was Jesus, not Pilate, who was at ease and in command. Pilate, with all of his importance, was certainly under stress in this situation. On the other hand, Jesus, knowing that in His spiritual nature He was in charge of His life, was calm and poised. (John 18)
Pilate was in a difficult situation. As procurator of the Jews, he would prefer to play politics, avoiding situations that could cause trouble. Jesus was a popular person, with a large following. Pilate would rather not rile them. On the other hand, he was being pressed by the Jewish leaders to condemn the Man to death. He cared nothing for their charge of blasphemy, but he was very much concerned when they represented Jesus as a threat to the Roman government. (He was even more concerned when they threatened to report him to Caesar if he failed to give the order for execution.)
Surely Pilate was a man under stress when he was questioning Jesus. In his best judicial manner, he entered the praetorium and asked, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33 RSV) Jesus, with full knowledge that this man had the power of life and death in his hands, answered calmly, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” (John 18:34 RSV)
Pilate was not accustomed to being answered in this way, and he spoke sharply.
Jesus explained, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from this world.” (John 18:35 RSV)
Jesus went on to explain that his purpose was “to bear witness of the truth” (John 18:37 RSV). He added, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” (John 18:37 RSV) By this time Pilate was totally confused. He had the last word when he asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38 RSV), but then he left the room to seek some way to rid himself of this troublesome situation.
Jesus was at home even in this place where Pilate was in charge, even under the threat of the powerful representative of the most powerful government in the world of that time. Jesus was at home, and Pilate was nervous and ill at ease, uncomfortable even with all of his worldly power, or perhaps because of it.
What made Jesus at home in even this situation?
First, Jesus was not afraid of losing anything, even his life. Many people are troubled by stress because there is a fear of the loss of money or things, position or power. Pilate, working on the human plane, was very much afraid of losing his position and his power if negative reports got back to Rome. But Jesus was in charge of His life, and He knew it. The threat of a death sentence meant nothing, because Jesus knew that He could walk away from the situation if He wanted to, as He had done on other occasions. He was there to fulfill His divine purpose, and there was no fear of loss.
Jesus was poised because He was in tune with God. Listening for inner spiritual guidance, He had all the right answers. Pilate, on the other hand, was groping in a human way and ended up in confusion.
Then, too, Jesus had reached a point in consciousness where he was neither bound by time nor by place. Being totally in tune with Spirit and in the awareness of the allness and timelessness of the universal plan, He was not really limited to a particular time or place. The trial in all of its aspects was simply incidental to the fulfillment of the divine plan, which resulted in the resurrection and its effect on the world’s consciousness. He was there by divine appointment, and He was in agreement with His mission in life.
We, too, can learn to live so in tune with Spirit that we are at home in our world, at peace with ourselves.
Many people would like to start by changing the world first, but we must begin with ourselves.
Charles Fillmore wrote, “We are now living in a civilization dominated by human thought, and confusion is the result.” (Atom Smashing Power of Mind 68) Even in the midst of confusion, we can be a center of poise. We can, when we tune in to the Jesus Christ consciousness, rather than the Pontius Pilate thought that is in our world today.
Pilate represents the human will, jealous of its power, fearful of loss, concerned about what others are thinking and pompous with its self-importance. This consciousness is bound to be stressful. But we can follow a better way, even in a world where many choose the human way.
It is not our work to start by changing our world. It is our job to begin by changing ourselves, our thoughts and our feelings. When we have done that, we will be so at home in our world that we will know how to fulfill our purpose in living, as Jesus did, and we will be comfortable and poised while doing it.
We can take dominion over ourselves. As Fillmore wrote, “You can do anything with the thoughts of your mind . . . There is no other place in the universe where you are the absolute master.” (Fillmore, “Tools for Victorious Living”, p. 37 and Charles Fillmore Prosperity 92) And when we first take command within ourselves, then we are bound to influence our world — for the better.
We are just beginning to discover the power of our minds. We have no real conception of the wonderful discoveries that will be made in the future simply by our learning to develop the mental and spiritual potentiality within us.
A friend recently had an experience with the power of the mind. He was in the hospital, unable to move very much, and he became very cold one night. He could not get up or even reach down to see if there was a blanket on the foot of the bed. So he thought about calling a nurse.
Suddenly, as he was thinking of calling for some extra covering, he looked down and saw a blanket over his body. He became very warm, comfortable and drowsy. He went to sleep and slept comfortably all night.
In the morning, when one of the nurses came in, he thanked her for putting the blanket over him during the night. She replied, “I didn’t put a blanket over you.” He checked with the other nurse, and she had not covered him, either. There was a blanket on the foot of the bed, but no evidence that it had been unfolded at all. Actually, there was no blanket over him in the morning, but he saw it clearly in the night and was warmed by it.
We are just beginning to realize the power of our thought, and when we learn to take conscious control of our lives and our environment, we will be amazed at what we can accomplish.
There are definite steps that we can take to establish control and become at home with ourselves in our world.
Adopt a positive attitude and refuse to take things personally.
Many people are uncomfortable in their environment because they continually take everything that is said or done in a personal way. Another person makes a remark, and they consider it an insult. Or they may reflect, “I wonder what he meant by that!” Some people look at others and conditions and consider them a threat to their personal safety or wellbeing, or perhaps to their paycheck or possessions.
Many times the individual is made uncomfortable by a situation which exists in his mind only. But if it is in the thoughts and feelings of that person, it will be a stress producer.
Some people take everything in a personal way by being carried away with egotism. Because of their position, they may be constantly on guard and concerned that others recognize their importance. Or they may believe all the good things others say about them and become egotistical and self-conscious about the impression they are making.
Here again, Jesus is our great example. Jesus was as little concerned about what Pilate thought of Him as He was about the false accusations of the Jewish leaders. He stood in the dignity of His own realization of His spiritual nature, unmoved by what was going on around and about Him.
By the same token, a few days earlier He was equally unmoved by great acclaim. When He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, people were throwing palm branches and garments in His path. The multitude cried, “Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt. 21:9 RSV) They were acclaiming Him as a king and were excited about it. Only Jesus was poised and calm, at home in His world, unmoved by the praise and acclaim as He was by the blame.
Jesus did nothing just for the sake of impressing people. He was as unconcerned about the people crying “Hosanna,” as He was about the crowd later calling out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” (John 19:15 RSV)
How can we develop this impersonal, yet positive, attitude that will keep us at peace regardless of what is going on around us? Here is an idea that may help.
Several years ago my husband and I were driving through the mountains of Colorado. We were fascinated by the tall fir trees growing on the side of the mountains, apparently out of solid rock. Because of deep snows, very strong winds and extreme cold in the winter, some of the trees were black and barren on one side, but growing and green on the other.
My husband commented, “Those trees really fight for survival, don’t they?” Then, after a pause, he added, “No, they don’t fight. They just go on growing.” That is the way the trees became at home in their world. They just went on growing, regardless of what went on around them. And so can we.
Hold people and things with open hands.
Anyone who clutches others tightly, fearful of losing their love, determined to direct their lives, is filling his life with tension, anxiety and stress. Closed minds and closed hands are robbers of mind and body, and no one can be at ease while tightly grasping people and things.
Jesus did not hold on to others. He invited the disciples who were closest to Him to join His personal group, but He never tried to force anyone to become one of his followers. He gave His teaching freely to all who wanted it and healed wherever He found a receptive channel, a person who requested His help.
Jesus did not seek personal favors from others, and He did not make spectacular promises to those who would do His will. He walked through life with open hands, willing to help but unwilling to force His help or His teaching. When approached by antagonistic leaders, He spoke the words that came to Him from God; He gave the right answer in the situation, and then went on His way. He didn’t spend long hours arguing, insisting that others believe as He did. He simply said what was necessary in the situation and went on to do the work God had given Him.
When we learn to hold other people with open hands, those who belong in our lives remain, and those who are not to be a part of this life experience go. We cannot really hold anything that does not belong to us by right of consciousness. Releasing others will save us much tension and strain, as well as bringing divine adjustment into our human relationships.
There may be times when we feel that we must interfere in the lives of others because of ways in which they apparently are hurting themselves and others. Even in such a case, our greatest help will be in the area of learning to recognize and to trust the Christ, the God self, in the other person. This doesn’t mean that we don’t care. It simply means that we trust the Christ to adjust their lives and leave them free to find the answer in their own way. When we are trusting God to right the wrong, we will avoid all tension and anxiety in our personal attitude. If there is some step we need to take in an outer way, we will be shown what we have to do, and we will be able to do it without stress and without strain.
Where children are concerned, we care enough to train them correctly, but without rigidity. Recognizing that they, too, are people and have the Spirit of God within them, we must give them the opportunity to let their own light shine and to develop their talents and abilities in the way that is right for them.
In the area of things, let us understand that that which is ours cannot be taken from us. The more we learn to hold our money and possessions with open hands and no fear of loss, the more we will have, and the happier we will be. Tension and fear of loss lead to lack and limitation. Freedom and release lead to ease and plenty.
Let love expand your world.
There is nothing to fear in God’s universe. By recognizing God’s love and His presence in our environment at all times, we can learn to be equally at home in all places and at all times. But love is a quality we must learn to understand and to cultivate in a spiritual way. This is a love that goes beyond the songs of romantic fantasy and even the family relationship or friendship. It is the love that is based on a recognition of God everywhere and a sense of identification with His goodness throughout the universe.
In this understanding of love our relationship with other people extends into a new dimension. We no longer relate to others in the way of human thinking, but rather we follow the example of Jesus in being a channel of blessing at all times and under all circumstances.
Let us consider the example of the happenings in the Garden of Gethsemane when the Jewish authorities and a band of soldiers came to arrest Jesus. The disciple, Peter, who was noted for being impulsive, reacted to the situation in a human way. He grabbed a sword, and, fighting the threat against Jesus, whom he loved, he struck off the ear of the high priest’s slave. It was a natural, human reaction.
As Jesus explained to Pilate later, this was not the way of the divine messenger. He told the Roman official, “If my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.” (John 18:36 RSV)
In Gethsemane he practiced what he would later teach. He told Peter to put away the sword and then healed the man’s ear. This is the way of love, the divine answer.
In the workings of the world, it is natural to resist, to make demands and to hold out for human rights. In the way of Spirit, the answer lies in working with love and wisdom, dealing with others as we would have them deal with us, obeying the Golden Rule of human relationships.
When we let love expand our relationships with other people, we enter a whole new way of living — one that is happier, healthier and free from stress and strain.
Love can free us from stress in regard to nature as well Some people go through life uncomfortable with certain animals or other forms of nature. Some are ill at ease out >1 doors, with space around them. Others are fearful of currents of air, believing that the draft may cause them to catch coliI Many people are afraid of certain animals. Strangely enough, no matter what the fear, each individual manages to attract that condition or that animal into his life time after time. The pattern will continue to recur until he has overcome the tension and fear.
A friend taught her children how to deal with bees, a form of nature which is feared by many people.
The first reaction of many people is to fight the bee, to try to swat it or drive it away. This is the stress-producing, human reaction.
This young mother taught her children to talk to the bees when they came buzzing around. The children were to say, “God loves you. I love you. Now fly away.” They understood that the bees were intelligent and would respond. Sure enough, whenever they saw bees, they told them, “God loves you. I love you. Now fly away.” And they did.
But letting love expand our world goes beyond even our relationship with other forms of life on this plane. It includes entering into a larger dimension of thought, a mental area beyond the people around us and the physical environment in which we live.
Jesus was poised because He had reached a place in consciousness where He was no longer limited by time and place. We, too, can reach beyond ourselves, beyond our world and even beyond anything we can envision at this time as we let ourselves grow into a realization of the allness of the universe and the greatness of the divine plan.
Let us do it this way. Let us develop a mountain top view of ourselves and our world.
From the top of the mountain, as we look down on the valley, automobiles look like toys, and people may appear as ants, busy about many things. But from our vantage point, we have a feeling of peace and tranquility, recognizing that we do not have to fear the traffic or be caught up in the busyness. We are interested in the activity in the valley, but not caught up in it.
If we can return to our everyday activity with this view, interested but not caught up in the world, we will be able to live in the world but not of it, as Jesus did. Love will enable us to meet all situations with poise and confidence, and we will move easily and freely through life, fulfilling our divine destiny without anxiety, stress or strain.
We are important to God’s world and God’s plan. As Charles Fillmore wrote, “We should understand that we are not separate nor insignificant but the vital, important, integral parts of a mighty whole.” (Atom Smashing Power of Mind 61) Our recognition of ourselves as a part of the whole and our desire to fulfill our own particular assignment are essential to happy, successful living.
When we are free from all stress and at home in our world, we are best able to make our contribution to life and living and to reap the rich rewards in our daily living.
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.