Obstacle or Opportunity?

These last two weeks have been full of obstacles.  Huge, grey boulders of pain and frustration cropped up everywhere.  I want the problem to be outside of me.  I want some one or something to blame.  I want to shake my fist at all the small minded and callously indifferent.  A cause celebre, that’s what I thought I wanted.  Tossing dramatic phases and bits of bad poetry at the ugly grey wall wasn’t getting me anywhere.  In fact, it was making things worse.  Something was wrong but I didn’t know what.

Some times,it takes a while before I catch on.   My attitude, my limited perspective was the source of the problem.  Problems do exist outside of me and some of them are really big ones.  The frustration I was feeling was my problem.  I wanted it to stop.  Expecting that to magically happen from the outside would trap me inside my frustration forever.  I had to own it.  Accept it as mine and determine what I could do about it.

First, I had to tackle the problem of other people’s perceptions when they didn’t match my own.  Which perception would I choose?  Don’t laugh.  Choosing my perception over another isn’t something that comes easily or naturally to me.  A large part of my frustration came from trying to buy what they were saying when I knew that wasn’t true for me.  I had to remind myself that I live inside me.  What I think or feel doesn’t have to be right or wrong.  It just has to be mine.

Second, I had to acknowledge that some of the boulders I was running into weren’t worth the struggle.  It was time to find another way to move past them and beyond.  I started looking at the people in my life.  Were they supportive, consistent, trustworthy?   Did they demonstrate their friendship through actions?  Were they there when I needed them?   Did we share something vital and important in common?

Wanting them to be different, wanting the relationship to be different didn’t make it so.  They make choices and I make mine.  Listening to my heart, I finally heard what it has been trying to tell me.    It is ok to let some things go.

Finally, I had to look inside myself and determine which struggles are worth the effort.  My life is littered with obstacles.  I don’t need to accept other peoples limits as my own.  I simply need to deal with what is limiting me in this moment.  Nothing limits like the restrictions of one’s own thinking.  Seeing things as obstacles makes them obstacles.  It is time to see them as opportunities.

I listened to the weariness I feel when people talk about their problems.  Such talk focuses on lack or what stands in the way or whose to blame.  It focuses on a weird sort of one-up-man-ship.

“My problems are bigger than yours.”

It doesn’t focus on solution.  It doesn’t get beyond complaining and limited thinking.  It fails to accept what is.  It lacks gratitude, hopefulness, joy.    When I surround myself with “problem-based” thinkers, I end up having a lot more problems than I need.   “Problem-based” thinking isn’t working for me.

Yet, moving on isn’t easy.  How wonderful to throw a mental switch and change my relationship to the world, life,and other people.  Obviously, the challenge is part of the prize.  In constantly facing the same issue over and over again, I have the opportunity to try something new next time.   The struggle really is part of the reward.

This was as far as I had written before taking a break to run a couple of errands.  My commitment to re-framing and looking for opportunities instead of obstacles was seriously tested. I don’t think I aced the test.

But then I wouldn’t be me or be human.  Didn’t I write something about the “struggle being part of the reward?”     I’ll be tested again tomorrow.  A slightly different test I’m sure but most of the themes will be the same.     With all the good practice today provided, I’m feeling more prepared for future tests.  Today, was an opportunity after all.

  • Leslie

    Opportunity! Definitely Opportunity!

I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.

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The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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