I’ve been in extreme stress lately. Not really the acute type. More the cumulative type.
A big part of the stress is that I had lost my coping strategies. When I was feeling distressed before, I would cope. But now, I can no longer use those strategies.
I’m in a new situation. I can’t do my same old things. I have to do something new…or suffer the consequences.
It when we’re at our lowest that two things can happen. We can go all the down to the absolute bottom (death, how dramatic). Or we can change directions.
We can go up. We can bounce back. The further the fall, the harder the crash…or the higher the bounce.
But in order to go back up, we have to go back up a different path. That path may be external, like a new job, or a new relationship. Or, that path may be internal.
We are not called to evolve when things are easy. We’re called to evolve when things are bad, really bad. They’re so bad we can’t solve them as we are…we have to become something different.
This isn’t how evolution works most of the time. The overwhelming majority of the time those who win, or even survive the game are those who are born to do so. It’s Darwinian.
But it’s when things are at their worst when evolution can be Lamarckian. Lamarckian evolution happens under extreme stress. This extreme stress makes us into mutants.
Under this extreme stress, implicated genes start to mutate in as many ways as possible. If one of those ways can solve the stress, the organism rewrites its genetic code in the structure of the solution. I think this is analogous to life lived at our magnification.
Whenever we’re under extreme stress, we’ll try everything we know to do. When that doesn’t work, we’ll try…whatever. We have to solve the problem before the problem becomes a problem we cannot solve.
And if we do solve the problem, we are forever changed by the solution we find. Extreme stress leads us in two directions: extinction or evolution. So if you find yourself at the bottom, know that if you can make it long enough, you can come out the other side evolved, better, and more…than you ever were before.