Many years ago when I was still an undergraduate student at a Cambridge University in England, I had a good friend who was doing medical research on cancer. He was trying to find out what, if any, psychological factors would be relevant to a person developing cancer. He developed a very elaborate psychological evaluation, looking for overwhelmingly negative events which could provoke a “death wish” in the subconscious of the patient. But he only found such an event in about forty percent of his subjects. The death of a child, bankruptcy, the end of a marriage, were all potentially contributing factors for the subject developing cancerous cells in less than a year later.
So what about the other sixty percent? For a long time he was baffled. But then he changed the questionnaire from looking for overwhelmingly negative events to overwhelming events of any kind. He included his scope to include positive things: a new relationship, the birth of a baby, a promotion at work. Once he broadened his parameters to look for change of any kind, whether positive or negative, he found a correlation of almost ninety percent.
Hans Seyle is considered to be the creator of our modern concept of stress. What a legacy! Selye defines stress as any kind of stimulus which is sufficiently overwhelming to be impossible to fully digest or assimilate within the same time frame as the event is occurring. Seyle associates stress with change of any kind. But not everybody gets stressed in the same way: stress = change + inability to assimilate.
By most peoples account we are now in a time of unprecedented change. Environmental factors that have been stable for as long as we have collective memory are now changing. Proven strategies to be successful financially are giving way to a whole new game. According to Peter Russell, author of The Global Brain, our rate of change in technology is currently about eighteen months and getting less. In other words, what was new and innovative eighteen months ago has already been made obsolete today.
A time of rapid change can be tremendously stressful or tremendously inspiring, depending upon your state of consciousness. In just the same way, completing a demanding cross-training program could be challenging and invigorating if your body is flexible and in good shape, or it could equally kill you if you are not ready. Rapid change + inflexible consciousness = stress, breakdown and eventually death. Rapid change + flexible and open consciousness = new opportunity, creativity and expansion.
Ariane de Bonvoisin has emerged as one of the leading authorities on how to cope with change. Her groundbreaking book,The First 30 Days, identifies nine attributes of a successful change agent, someone who thrives on change, enjoys change, and knows how to navigates change skillfully.
Please join me in dialog with Ariane de Bonvoisin for a free tele-seminar on November 5th at 6pm PST.