What Makes Challenges, Challenging?
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsh
Oftentimes, I tell my students that feeling balanced fluctuates from day-to-day.
It would be nice if we woke up one morning to realize that we have arrived at balance. Unfortunately, balance is not static. In every facet of our lives there are always going to be different challenges affecting our balance, to provide us with an opportunity to grow and challenge ourselves.
We tend to grow and learn at the outer edges of our comfort zone. If we always stayed within that ‘comfort zone,’ never took any risks and saw the challenges that we face as obstacles, not opportunities, then we are just asking for more challenges. We will remain stuck in familiar patterns and never step outside ourselves to see that there is so much more to experience outside our self-imposed limitations. We want to remain safe, but safety does not mean holding on for dear life. I see it in my practice and with my friends everyday, and I understand how hard it is to see it in ourselves.
In the book Illusions by Richard Bach, there is a story about creatures who clung tightly to the twigs and rocks at the river bottom, because clinging and resisting the current was their way of life. It was what everyone did and what they had learned from birth.
One creature decided that he was tired of clinging. “Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.”
We need to be fearless when challenges present themselves, even if that means getting out of our comfort zone and trying something new. Trust that it is all part of the journey.
What challenges us?
It’s often the fear of the unknown that causes us to feel stressed and doubt our ability to handle challenges. We often feel defeated because of our limited perception of our abilities. We feel that the challenge is bigger than we are. Look at any successful business – it didn’t become successful without it’s challenges and difficulties. If we gave up every time a challenge came our way, we would never move forward or realize our dreams.
How many times have you created a whole scenario or drama in your head around a challenge, and then realized it wasn’t real? Was it something from your past creeping into the present, an old record we play when feeling challenged in any way? We can either keep repeating the same behavior, creating the same result, or have the desire to do things differently this time around. You can use the past as a way to empower your present. Sometimes we need to observe ourselves, almost from a distance, and be grateful for this insight. As each limiting behavioral pattern rises to the surface, we can kick its ass! Why not challenge them and find another way to see things? When things don’t work out exactly how we planned, we are challenged to be creative and come up with another approach. Remember the expression, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’. When you work hard for something, you will appreciate it so much more.
So, how can we relate this to our health challenges? Have you ever noticed that every challenge we face and overcome, comes with a blessing in disguise? Maybe the challenge is an opportunity to get healthier while unlocking our inner strength and fortitude. We always have a choice.
Let’s say that your goal is to lose weight. You use language such as “I hope”, “I can’t promise”, “I will try”, “not sure I can”; lots of excuses rise to the surface as a defense mechanism. You doubt your ability from the start. Part of you is hanging on, and the other part doesn’t believe that you are up to the challenge. Then the memories of your past attempts and failures seal the deal, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your attitude and perception are created by you, not by your circumstances. You always have a choice. You can start out feeling defeated or you can choose to see the blessings and use this experience as an opportunity to inspire and motivate others, especially those facing a similar challenge. Remember, anytime you experience personal growth you help others around you in some way.
It is said that, ‘the greater the struggle we have in our lives, the greater the victory.’ That is why we have challenges; the opportunity to rise to the occasion, and the lessons that we ultimately learn, give our accomplishments their true value. The more we can overcome, the greater the sense of accomplishment and joy we can ultimately feel.
© 2016 Ara Wiseman. All rights reserved.