Inside: Do you dread dealing with any type of challenge? Most of us do. The good news is that overcoming life’s challenges can be a blessing in disguise…
We want life to be easy, but it seems that challenges continuously work to stop our efforts and limit the quality of our lives (and that of our kids). The good news is that challenges don’t have to be the vile thing you think they are.
Challenges can actually be a blessing…
I know what you’re thinking… Say what? How?
When we’re in the midst of one of life’s challenges, we often just want to find the quickest path out. I’m sure we all had our share of challenges in the Pandemic of 2020.
But, here’s the thing…
Challenges are often the path to great success and achievement. The challenge isn’t really a roadblock. It’s an opportunity.
This applies whether you’re:
- frustrated with your job
- feeling like you’re floundering as a parent
- trying to help your child have faith in themselves
- irritated that nothing seems to be going the right direction
If there’s one characteristic found in all successful people, it’s the ability to persevere and overcome challenges. Those that struggle with life invariably give up far too quickly.
And this very much relates to our kids too.
Overcoming life’s challenges requires three things:
♥ It begins with the ability to perceive the situation accurately.
This requires having a true understanding of how the world works. It’s important to be free of emotional distress and to maintain your composure. Excess emotion clouds perception and can hinder your ability to take action.
♥ Act intelligently.
With an accurate perception, you have the ability to take appropriate action. All of us take actions every day.
Even lying on the couch and watching television is a course of action. However, few of us take intelligent action. Intelligent action consists of actions that are most likely to lead to success.
♥ Accept and persevere.
Creating opportunities from life’s challenges requires will. When placed in a situation with multiple challenges and little hope, do you continue or do you give up?
The ability to accept the situation makes intelligent action easier. When you lack acceptance, you’ll face too much emotional struggle to perceive accurately or to act intelligently.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t
resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
– Lao Tzu
Here’s How to Begin Overcoming Life’s Challenges…
And you’ll find that when you are able to model overcoming life’s challenges, your kids will notice and be able to overcome their own life’s challenges as well.
Perception is how we view and understand the events happening around us. It also includes the interpretation of what those events mean.
Your perception can be a strength or a weakness. When you’re overly emotional and basing things off inner experience rather than fact, you create further challenges.
Did you know that all of our thoughts are clouded by inaccurate perceptions of past experiences, false beliefs, and fear?
Filtering out these mental challenges requires skill.
However, with practice, it’s possible to keep your emotions under control. With a clear mind, only the truth remains. When you see the truth, you’re starting from the perfect place.
Accuracy and unrealistic thinking are the opposite of each other. An accurate assessment of the situation and the ability to see the possibilities are the key.
“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you are riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts; put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!”
– Bob Marley
Maintain Your Composure
Challenges present themselves each and every day for us and our kids.
We’re constantly presented with a choice either to maintain our emotional state or to become rattled. Whether it’s a traffic jam on the way to work, struggling to figure something out, or a child that has broken your favorite vase, two possibilities exist.
Which do you routinely choose?
Try these tips for maintaining your composure in the midst of chaos:
→ Be defiant. On some level, composure is the result of defiance. It’s the refusal to be intimidated or to view a temporary result as a failure.
→ Take responsibility. Something powerful happens when you choose to take responsibility for a situation: you have the power to change things. When you have power, you’ll feel less stress and worry.
→ Stay present. In times of turmoil, keep your attention on your current task.
Keep your mind in the present moment.
Keep your mind on your work, rather than on the possible negative outcomes.
To stay present when your mind tries to wander, focus on your breathing and your senses. Make a mental list of the things you see, hear, smell, and feel.
You can only think about one thing at a time. Use that fact to your advantage. Negative thoughts about the future lead to anxiety.
→ Focus on solutions. Unsuccessful people are masters at concentrating on their challenges and making them more intimidating than they really are. Keep your thoughts on the solutions.
This requires practice. The more you practice, the more adept you’ll become at this skill.
→ Realize that becoming upset limits your options. Fear and anxiety limit your ability to see all of your options. The most elegant, and often simple, solutions will elude you. You’re at your best when in a state of peace and confidence.
Chaos is one type of challenge. Use chaos as an opportunity to build your emotional resistance. You can control your thoughts and emotional response in every situation.
Focus on maintaining your composure throughout the day.
Objectivity in Life’s Difficulties
Objectivity is elusive.
Objectivity is the ability to see the situation accurately, without the influence of emotion, prejudice, or bias. When you’re observing, you see what is actually there. When you’re perceiving, you’re seeing more than what is actually there.
We often create turmoil with the belief that a situation should be a particular way.
- My family is supposed to be supportive of me.
- My kids should be able to handle this or that.
- I should have more money than Sally.
- I should have more free time.
Accept the situation and make up your mind to move forward.
Become more objective and see the truth with these strategies:
→ Avoid quick reactions. Have you ever noticed that deer run when frightened? It’s not a thoughtful process. A deer either freezes or runs.
The instinct to flee is strong. In fact, it’s so strong that deer often flee from one problem only to be struck by a car.
Reacting quickly is the result of instinct. Your child infuriates you, so you get angry. Your spouse makes a mistake, and you verbally unload on them. But reacting quickly is rarely the best option.
Take a moment to assess the situation before choosing how you’ll react.
→ Consider your sensitive spots. Which topics cause you to routinely overreact? Are you easily offended? Are you impatient? Do you hold strong beliefs that you defend boldly?
When you’re in situations that result in strong emotions, you’re much less likely to be objective. Notice when you’re involved in one of these situations and tread carefully.
→ Strip away your perceptions. Take the situation at face value. Suppose your child throws a royal fit in the grocery store. Depending on your past experiences and your personality, you might conclude:
- He always does this.
- He can’t handle it when he doesn’t get what he wants.
- Everyone is going to think I’m a bad parent.
- He should be out of this stage by now.
However, you can’t know any of these things until you look below the surface and what the behavior is communicating to you.
Why upset yourself when there might not be a reason to be upset? All you know is that he threw a fit this time.
More helpful questions might include:
- Does he need a snack?
- Is he overly tired?
- Did something happen earlier, and this is just the “straw that broke the camel’s back”?
- Have I connected with him and truly listened to him today?
→ Make a mental list of what you know regarding the situation. You might know that your child seems really grumpy and short-toned ever since they came home from school. However, you might not know that she got into an argument with her best friend.
- Before getting onto her for being grumpy or “copping an attitude”, make a mental list of what you know for a fact.
- Then make a list of logical conclusions.
- Do you feel more confident in having a genuine, unbiased conversation to find out what’s below the surface in her reactions?
- Finally, note your thoughts that are unsupported and impaired by your emotions and your own negative thought patterns.
→ De-personalize the situation. Imagine you were giving advice to a friend or a stranger. Neutrality is easier to find when you take your ego out of the equation. challenges and setbacks seem smaller when they’re occurring to someone else.
There are very few people who can rightly consider themselves to be neutral.
We’re all victims of our past and our incorrect thinking. It takes tremendous effort to remain neutral.
The ability to see the truth lays the groundwork for overcoming life’s challenges.
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming challenges.”
– Christopher Reeve
Control What You Can
Everything that happens in your life can be divided into two groups: Those things you can control and those you cannot. Worrying about things beyond your control is simply counterproductive.
Focus on those things you can control.
What can you control?
⇒ Your decisions. At the end of the day, you make up your own mind. You decide what to eat, to whom you’ll speak, and the direction of your life. If you fail to make decisions, you’re deciding to let the world determine your fate.
⇒ Your emotions. You can choose whether you’ll stay calm or become upset. Life is harder if you can’t control your emotions.
⇒ Your attitude. Do you choose to be optimistic or pessimistic? Your attitude influences your thoughts and emotions – and ultimately your actions.
⇒ Your perspective. Are you a failure stuck in an unattainable situation? Or are you a winner in a tough, but manageable situation?
Do you believe there are golden opportunities to be found in the midst of your challenges? Which perspective would be more likely to support you in your efforts?
⇒ Your creativity. Are you going to repeat the same patterns that have brought you to your current situation? Or are you taking full advantage of your ability to overcome life’s challenges and create new, exciting results?
Make a list of everything in your life that’s disagreeable to you.
Make note of all the things out of your control and decide not to let them intrude on your thoughts.
Put your time and focus on the things within your sphere of control. Ignore those things you can’t influence.
“Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you.”
– Joel Osteen
This even applies to trying to figure out how to inspire your kids to not pull into themselves or doubt themselves when something doesn’t go as planned.
Those negative thoughts that end up swirling inside our heads and our kids’ do not serve either of us.