You are stronger than you even know.
But when facing an obstacle, it’s easy to forget the strength we have. It’s easy to get lost in the discomfort of our obstacles, and to lose track of the accomplishments we have achieved. There are so many! It’s easy to look at others who can do what we can’t and to think, ‘Maybe this isn’t where I’m meant to be.’ It’s easy to think of our failure as definite.
And the last thing we want to hear during hard times is the truth: that we can overcome. The last thing we want to know is that our struggles, our challenges, our months of sleepless nights will be just a fading memory, and that our failures are simply opportunity.
The last thing we want to believe is that, in this unpredictable life, there is direction. There is a plan.
Whether we believe that we control the plan or that a higher power guides our paths, there is structure to the chaos. And there is meaning in the struggle.
- If we fail and choose to redirect our lives, there is a plan: to learn, to try, and to explore new options.
- If we fail and keep trying, there, too, is a plan: to stay on the current track.
- If one day, we wake up and realize that we are at peace, well then, for now, this is where we are meant to be.
But how do we wade through the struggles to find the right path?
How do we choose to keep trying?
With three simple ingredients:
The first time we try and fail, we may feel frustration. We may feel uneasy. We may want to get up, walk away, and reach for something we know can bring us success. We may, for a moment, want to stop trying.
We may lose our patience.
But your physician didn’t learn the anatomy of the human body in a single study session. Your contractor didn’t learn to frame a house in one hot afternoon. You didn’t learn to walk in a single jump to your feet.
Very few accomplishments in life come naturally. Certainly, the most rewarding accomplishments did not. In fact, we are a strange species, gaining the greatest reward from overcoming the hardest of obstacles.
And with patience, with time, with trying and trying and trying again, you may just find that you do have the strength and skill to overcome this obstacle you now face.
Oh, but the hardest challenge during a difficult time is to stay positive. And, more specifically, to stay positive about ourselves! We look to the person next to us and see that he is succeeding in half the time. We look to our self-prescribed expectations and wonder why we are falling short. We look to our momentary failures to define us.
And we have to stop!
Because our failures are temporary. And we are MOST DEFINITELY not our failures. We are the strength of trying again. We are the courage of still showing up. We are the compassion of accepting our current experiences and the bravery of asking for help.
If we imagine anyone else in our situation, we probably wouldn’t think any less of them. A child with dyslexia struggles to read; and, with nurturance and support, he doesn’t give up. An athlete with a fractured wrist struggles to return to the field, and with determination and courage (and six weeks of healing!), she puts herself back in the game.
Our situations are no different than that of the child or athlete. Our challenges are no cause for shame or self-ridicule. We may take more time. We may need some help. And we may find that our challenges and our determination to overcome are reason for even greater nurturance of ourselves and even prouder celebration of who we are and who we can become.
Most importantly, though, in the midst of a challenge, we have to remember to live one moment at a time.
And this can be so hard!
When we can’t accomplish task number one, we start to look ahead at tasks two, three, twenty-five, and we wonder how we will ever build up to that level. We consider the whole of our to-do lists and the demand of just this one obstacle, and we question whether we can handle everything that is on our plates.
We forget that, in this moment, we don’t have to handle everything on our plates.
Right now, all we have to do is this one thing before us. There is no moment ahead. There is nothing to carry forward from the moment past. Sure, eventually, another moment will come, and so will another item on our list of responsibilities. However, that next moment is no more important than the present. The past has no place intruding on today.
And the more we let the past and the future interfere, the less of the present we experience. That is simply not fair!
And it’s counterproductive. Because in a state of mindfulness, in a place of full attention to and appreciation of the present, we are at our strongest. We are investing the whole of our energy into this moment, and leaving the worry of the future and the pain of the past at the wayside.
With a mindful spirit, a patient demeanor, and an outlook of self-compassion, we are gifting ourselves the greatest opportunity of all: the potential for growth. And that growth is truly a sign of great strength.
© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.