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Dealing with the obstacles of life
Life in many ways is like trying to climb a huge and intimidating mountain. You may not even be able to see the top and have no idea how far up it goes. Getting to the base can be a challenge all on its own. The mountain itself is not the obstacle, it is the combination of thousands of smaller obstacles one after the other. Only by conquering them all will you get to your goal.
Regardless of their size, these obstacles can seem too large to pass at times. Or they can be small and easy, to the point where you don’t even recognise them as obstacles anymore. Like my year 8 art teacher told me, ‘everything is easy once you know how to do it.’. Except for maybe passing a kidney stone, but that’s neither here nor there. You will face obstacles regardless, and if you’re not, then you’re not challenging yourself enough!
Below are a few things to consider when you’re feeling down about the circumstances you are facing lately:
Focus on what you can control
So much of our attention is spent on things outside of our control. Through the eyes of a stoic, this is wasted energy. If you can’t do anything to change something, does it make sense to worry about it? Not really, no. It will take a while to embody this way of thinking, as it will feel unnatural. But when you do it is sure to make a huge difference. With less energy wasted, you can focus on tackling the obstacles you can control.
You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.Marcus Aurelius
Embrace the pain for what it represents
Only through pain and challenging circumstances can we really grow as individuals. And when that challenge does come along, embrace it! How fortunate you are to be given an opportunity to grow faster than you would have otherwise. If you are facing a challenge, it’s the universe telling you “Hey! There’s work to be done on in this area of you. Here’s an opportunity (in the form of an obstacle) to help you improve it.”
Remember, the obstacle is an opportunity, not a punishment.
‘Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?Marcus Aurelius
Only make comparisons to your former self
By comparing yourself to others, you will always fall short in some way. This is because you are comparing yourself in your entirety, to the tailored persona they choose to display to the world. You only see of someone what they choose to show you. Furthermore, they couldn’t show you everything of them even if they wanted to, because you are not that person and your perceptions are tinted through the lens of your own experiences.
With that, only make comparisons to yourself. How you used to be, how you used to think and feel. That is the only fair comparison you can make.
Persistence beats effort
We as humans thrive on instant feedback so we can measure our efforts and make changes accordingly. But without those fast results, we quit our efforts too soon as we feel we are wasting our time. We need to take a look at the bigger picture. The progress we have made just isn’t visible yet. If your method is sound, keep up the consistency and the results will manifest soon enough
Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.Jacob Riis
Don’t forget to look behind you
In our constant pursuit of bigger and better things, sometimes we can forget just how far we have come so far.
Periodically take a moment to look back at all these amazing things you have accomplished. You do amazing things every single day, you just pay them no attention anymore. If you are currently alive (which I hope you are), that means you have survived every obstacle ever thrown at you. Go you! That’s quite the impressive track record.