The Good Work Book Blog

This blog continues the discussion about work challenges and solutions, which Fiona and I began in The Good Work Book: How to enjoy your job & make it spiritually fulfilling. Here you can join the conversation.

Feeling bad? Don't know why? You may be suffering spiritual stress

Are you feeling that you have lost direction in life? Are you suffering physical, emotional or mental stress that makes no sense because you believe you doing all that you can to stay healthy, resilient and purposeful? Chances are you may be suffering the effects of spiritual stress.. It’s a form of stress that is all too common in these crazy times when the old ways of approaching life are no longer working out.

Of all the types of stress, spiritual stress is the least recognized and, therefore, least understood. It arises when you have unconsciously adopted a position about living your life that lacks an effective balance between your current human needs and the spiritual imperative to grow beyond the present into a more authentic expression of your unique self. This imbalance is reflected in a distressing sense of powerlessness to create the well-being in life that you want.

A human being’s spiritual nature expands through seeking opportunities to learn how to give and receive Love in practical ways, as well as to operate from the heart-connected wisdom of the higher self. This urge exists throughout life because it ensures happiness and fulfillment no matter what your age. However, if some part of you is consciously or unconsciously fearful of, or unwilling to, accept such growth, spiritual discomfort becomes inevitable because the resistance closes access to the insights that will relieve difficulties. People suffering this kind of stress are liable to feel blocked at every turn.

Such resistance has a number of sources, but the overall effect is create a powerless life that is either a plodding, resigned existence with little expectation of improvement, or one which relies on spiritual fantasy to create a (false) sense of connection to higher wisdom. In the latter case, a person believes they are being supported at a spiritual level because they engage in spiritual practices, but the facts of their lives suggest otherwise; their life, to a significant degree, does work as if they are blessed.

Spiritual stress is hard to pick up because once it sets in it cascades into other types of stress, especially mental and physical problems, so that the symptoms described here are not necessarily definitive. Note carefully: Suffering one or two of these problems is not enough to be diagnostic. However, some of its characteristics are: mental fogginess or disorientation; self-hatred; a sense of loneliness; over-sensitivity that causes social withdrawal; self-punishing behaviours; sadness and grief at a feeling of loss of God; and finally ego-driven conflict with others showing up as rigid self-righteousness or victimhood and blame. Spiritual stress leads to many dangers and needs to be addressed both quickly and appropriately.

If you wonder if you might be suffering spiritual stress, the following questions may be helpful.

• Do you have an underlying unease that what you are doing is not ‘right’ for you but are confused about what to do? Examples: Does the work you are doing feel ‘stale’ whereas once it was enjoyable? (This question does not apply to work that you know you dislike and already have active plans to change it.)

• Does the demands of your job offend your sense of what is a genuinely beneficial relationship to the people you serve?

• Are you acting out of old attitudes that no longer fit with the kind of person you need to be in order to have a happier, safer or freer life?

• Are you tired of self-destructive habits, behaviour or thinking that no longer suit the more loving and healthier person you now want to become?

• Do you OFTEN experience self-doubt and/or self-abusive thinking?

• Do you feel you lost and without spiritual support or direction?

If you answered yes to several of the above questions, you may be suffering spiritual stress. It’s time to commit to action. In particular, you should invest in any kind of spiritual practice that draws you to your inner calm on a regular basis AND also develop those practical competencies that may be needed to empower you in specific areas of stress such as work, relationships or health. Once you genuinely commit to action, your higher self will put you in the way of opportunities to get you on track again. It may take time to reconnect with your inner centre where you can feel the calm and stability that are the signs of being spiritually balanced, but you will get there.

If you are unsure of the cause of any kind of unrelieved stress, co-author of The Good Work Book, Fiona McDougall is gifted in being able to diagnose the precise source of a person's discomfort, and give reliable guidance on the best ways to address it. You can book a short Skype session with her or email her for further details at


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Comments 1

Guest - Jane Robotham on Friday, 01 September 2017 23:23

A very refreshing article. It's been very helpful and enlightening to learn about spiritual stress. I can definitely relate!

A very refreshing article. It's been very helpful and enlightening to learn about spiritual stress. I can definitely relate!
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Tuesday, 23 January 2018