Challenge = Opportunity

Can I ask you to pause, right now, and consider this question for me:

Why are you here?

Wait. Stop. I want to break it down even more than that HUGE, big, vague question.

Why are you HERE, in this life, experiencing the things you experience on a daily basis?

But that still feels way too big doesn’t it? How about…

Why do you think you have the experiences you do on a daily basis?

But still…..there’s something else I’m getting at. Something I’m trying to learn for myself:

What are you meant to know and learn through the experiences you have on a daily basis?

Why are you having these experiences?

This joy?

This pain?

These challenges?

These celebrations?

But really, I mean…..the pain.

The challenges.

Why?

What is their purpose?

Because there HAS to be a purpose right?

Right??!?

This is a question I ponder DAILY. Every.Single.Day I say to myself

“What am I meant to learn from this?”

Because honestly, my life could be a movie. No, REALLY, it could. People have actually SAID THAT to me before, I’m not just making it up, I swear! (hey movie people, I’m waiting. I’m ready whenever you are)

This question is what drives me to read incessantly. This question is what drives me to my knees in prayer constantly. This question is why I am always seeking to learn anything and everything I can from whoever I can, whenever I can.

And this is what I’ve learned so far:

“Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity”  -Dr. Stephen R. Covey

_“Good management of bad experiences leads to great growth”_

greatest growth
Okay, so here’s an amazing thought: Challenges are an opportunity to get a glimpse of our highest self.

So how should we handle these challenges in our life?

FIRST STEP, we need to address the challenge head on. Don’t spend time looking for a way around the issue, or wallowing in despair at the enormity of it. Have you noticed, even mundane things get ignored and pile up and become bigger issues then they should be… Like in my house right now? About 5 loads of laundry are being  ignored (seriously, I have my foot resting on a bin of clean towels as I write this). And when you ignore that pile of laundry…does it go away? No. It gets bigger. So it is with the bigger challenges in life. Just take a step, then another, then another. You’ve GOT to get moving on them, you can’t ignore them.

THEN If you make a practice of facing your challenges—even in failure—ESPECIALLY in failure, with awareness, you will find most challenges are not challenges at all. They are opportunities. They are truly meant to teach us. You could even say our challenges are messages.

SECOND STEP: Where you at homie?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why is this a challenge?
  • Do I believe that I am capable of being successful at this challenge?
  • What are the possible outcomes if I succeed?
  • What is the outcome if I fail?

Knowing the answer to these questions won’t make your challenge disappear but they will bring you further into your awareness and understanding of them as well as your emotional reaction to it.

THIRD STEP: “And always let your conscious be your guide” -Jiminy Cricket. The more time you spend looking for the answer outside of YOU, the more time you’re avoiding the challenge. I loved this quote from the article “How To Face A Challenge With Confidence” on chopra.com:

“Even those who appear to help are only acting as instruments in the greater process of love and grace that is the true nature of your relationship to the universe.”

As a Christian, I interpret that as “even those who appear to help you are only acting as instruments in the hand of God”

FOURTH STEP: Examine Your Paradigms. “You are pure potential experiencing life through what seems like limitation.” Mindset is everything. You really need to change your paradigm and see challenges as OPPORTUNITY. (to grow of course!)

FINALLY, FIFTH STEP: Forget about it. Stressing about the outcome is how this turned into a huge challenge to begin with. So stop that. Focus on the PRESENT, on what you’re actually DOING…not the future. I can personally attest to the fact that when you attach emotions to your challenges, your challenges have power over you. You think about them ALL THE TIME. They control your days and your nights (how you sleeping?) The sooner you can detach emotion from your challenges, the sooner you take back your power over the situation.

So, a quick recap (in case you’re one of those people who skips to the end to see if the beginning is worth reading…)

-You’re right where you are this very second because you’re meant to be. It’s also supposed to be hard, so if you’ve got challenges, you’re doing something right

-The hard things are actually opportunities, you need to shift your paradigm. Challenge = Opportunity

-You hold the answer to your challenges, only you. So stop wasting time expecting someone else to answer it for you.

-Live in the present and stop attach emotions to your issues. Issues attached to emotions have power of you.

Ok, now back to me. (I’ve always wanted to say that! hahahaha!!) But for reals, can I tell you where I’m struggling right now? Not being in control. Specifically, not being able to control the thoughts and actions of others and the affect their thoughts and actions have on me. In this situation, if I were to apply the steps mentioned above I would:

  1. Recognize the only thing I can control about the thoughts and actions of others is MY response to it. The opportunity for growth that I have with this challenge is to learn to trust.  To trust that if I take responsibility for me and stop focusing on things that I cannot control then things will all work out as they are supposed to and I need to trust that the entire process is meant to make me a better mother, wife and leader.
  2. If I succeed at focusing only on what I can control, my own thoughts and actions, than I will have less stress and be happier. If I fail at focusing only on what I can’t control and start fixating on things outside of my control, I will be miserable!
  3. Trust that everything I go through in life is strategically placed for my own benefit and for my own growth
  4. I will not stress about what is out of my control, I will live in the here and now and focus on all the blessings I have in my daily life.

Now here’s another thing I have trouble with: patience. Being patient with myself and with others through the challenges (I mean opportunities…) of life is hard. But I love this quote:

patience

So, let’s shift our paradigms about challenges.

They are actually opportunities.

And let’s be patient with ourselves as we travel this journey together.

Peace out ya’ll.

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