Facing Challenge

As I was preparing for a recent workshop, I hit a number of bumps in the road.  Feeling a little deflated, I decided to take a break and do something to bring my spirits up.  I love to play sports and on this particular night, I chose soccer – my favorite.  My body and mind enjoy being active as my team works together to achieve a common objective.

I was sitting in the parking lot, my car seat pushed all the way back so I could slide on my shin guards, black soccer socks and turf shoes.  I was thinking “Do I really have time for this?”  The stress was evident in my body as I gathered my things from the seat next to me.  A young man happened to walk out of the field house and past my car just as I looked up.  For some reason, the print on his t-shirt caught my eye and I read the words:

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”

I felt like an old cartoon character when a light bulb suddenly appears over their head.  In an instant, I felt my consciousness shift as relief filled every cell of my body.

In that moment of truth, I thought about all of the life lessons contained in those few words:

Life can sometimes be challenging, but in each challenge is an opportunity for growth.

Many times we get bogged down in the moment – staring at the circumstances in front of us – not knowing which way to go.  We’re so busy focusing on the brick wall in front of us – the doors and windows bolted shut, we don’t see the rest of the picture.

Sometimes, the way forward is simply a different door.  Perhaps, it’s a staircase.  Maybe we just need to notice the key to the locks is lying on the floor.  Or it could be that we need to double back and go through an intricate maze of intense challenges and trails to learn everything we need to move forward.  The point is – the longer we stand and stare at the locked door focusing on why we can’t…..we won’t.  We won’t move forward.  Progress will be non-existent.  Learning will cease.  Change will…….well…..what change?

I wouldn’t be who I am without every challenge I’ve been through.

Taking the time to appreciate all of the lessons of the past is a powerful way to face the future.

About two months ago, I made a list of the hardest times in my life – every massive “failure”, every time my heart was shattered, every incident that stuck with me as an emotional scar that kept surfacing in my consciousness.  Next to each story of my past, I made a note of what I learned as a result of that time in my life.  I focused on what good I received as part of each experience.

You know what I found?

It was so much easier than I thought it would be to find the good.  When I was in the challenge, I struggled so hard to understand why I was chosen to live these conflicts and yet, when looking back, I know I needed those challenges to make me who I am.  I needed them to make me a stronger person, to give me confidence in my decisions, to learn to love unconditionally, to know how it feels in someone else’s shoes, to give up judgment.  It was amazing to see it all right there on paper.

I can help others through my understanding of struggles.

Going through my tough times has allowed me to have experience I can share with others in order to help them through their similar challenges.

One of my favorite stories is a woman who came to me after seeing me and my ex-husband interact at a picnic I had at my home.  She saw how well we got a long and that our kids seemed to be happy and well-adjusted even though they had to share life between two homes.  She asked me questions and I shared my experience about how our marriage came to an end and how we’d reached the point where we could be friends.

A few months later, this same woman came to me and thanked me for helping her through the emotions of her divorce.  She expressed how she felt so much more at peace within herself and how her children were adjusting better to the changes now that there was less hostility between her and her ex-husband.

A few perception changes were all it took to help her through a difficult and emotional situation.  I’m sure it wasn’t all roses and cheesecake after our discussion.  Even a simple shift can go a long way in easing pain.

Have faith in the unseen.

I don’t consider myself to be a religious person.  However, I do believe that we are all connected through an unseen power.  This power is governed by universal laws that are true and always working….no matter what we believe.

Every effect has a cause and every cause has an effect.  Things don’t just “happen.”  Something sets it into motion.  It’s like Dominoes in a line that goes on literally forever causing one event, feeling or belief after another.  You may not always be able to see the cause….but it’s always present and discovering it may help you to shift your perception just a bit to find inner peace.

There is an equal and opposite of all things.  Therefore, for anything that appears to be negative, there also must be an equal positive.  It’s like looking at a number line with zero in the middle.  You have numbers to the right and numbers to the left.  When you choose a negative number on the left, there is always a corresponding number – exactly the same distance from zero – on the positive end of the scale.  Of course we have an intellectual understanding of this through our mathematical studies, but the same law exists outside of mathematics.  Looking for the positive allows you to feel more appreciation and gratitude for what may otherwise be a negative experience. 

It’s not the challenge that determines my outcome, but how I respond to the challenge.

I’ve heard so many over the years complain about their circumstances and blame others for their outcomes.  If I’m being completely honest, I was one of them.  I’ve come to understand there is a certain feeling of confidence, empowerment and peace that comes with taking ownership.  You see, when I blame others or circumstances for who and what I am, I’m making myself a victim.  I’m saying “You are in charge of my outcomes and there’s nothing I can do.”  While there may be events or challenges I cannot change, I can certainly change my thinking about them.  Evaluating a situation and considering what I could have done differently allows me the opportunity to learn from it.  I can change my direction and make a different choice the next time I’m faced with a similar situation.

So, do you want to know the outcome?

I could have folded in the face of the challenges I encountered with my workshop. I can’t say the thought didn’t cross my mind.  However, my perseverance payed off and we had an enjoyable evening filled with meaningful connection and collaboration.  The group is now talking about making it a regular event!  I look forward to seeing where it takes all of us!

If you’re interested in hearing more about what we’re doing and how you can participate, reach out to me through my Contact page.

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