Why challenges are actually something to be welcomed
I came across this rather controversial idea recently… It’s a new way (for me in any case) of looking at challenges and it completely turned my thinking upside down.
Up until now my belief around challenges was that every challenge also has some good in it… so it’s the same idea as thinking every cloud has a silver lining, or what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But the thought was essentially that challenges are negative with positive elements.
And looking at challenges from that point of view always seemed to be the positive way of looking at problems… I thought. But I still faced every challenge with a sense of dread, and a keen desire for it to be over as quickly as possible.
This new idea though, gave a completely different perspective. It’s best illustrated in a question… Ask yourself, “what kind of person do I want to be? What kind of values and strengths would I like to have?”
My answer to that would be that I’d like to be someone who is brave and courageous enough to live my life to its full potential… Sounds easy enough. Am I there yet? No… But this new perspective offers a path to it.
The idea is that the only way of developing the qualities that we want, becoming brave, or compassionate for example, is by actually facing challenges, not shying away from them, not hiding in a cupboard until they’ve passed by (which is how I’ve often felt), but really facing the challenges. Standing up and saying “this frightens me, but I’m ready”.
Following along this line of thought, in order to become who I want to be, I NEED challenges. And it’s kind of obvious right? I mean why would anyone become brave if there was no need to be brave? It’s only when our limits are tested that we can extend ourselves, developing a greater understanding of ourselves, and others. And so to take that one step further, when challenges arise, we can be welcoming them as the opportunity to grow into who we want to be… Radical I know!
And so there I was contemplating this philosophical idea when just as luck would have it… a challenge arose. This was a challenge that I recognised instantly. I have seen this challenge arise many times before. Notice that I didn’t say “I have faced this challenge before”? That’s because every other time that it has appeared, I have run to hide in that cupboard, most definitely NOT facing the challenge. But this time I wanted it to be different.
So I took a deep breath, resisted the temptation to run, and asked myself “how can this challenge help me to become the person I want to be?” Instantly I saw exactly how. I could clearly see how standing and facing, instead of running and hiding would inevitably lead me to feeling stronger, more self assured, and much more courageous.
Now I don’t want to make this sound easy… I had a good couple of weeks where I was digging into the issue (my issue) and shedding light on questions like: Why am I scared of this? Why am I finding this difficult? What thought pattern of mine needs to change? On and on the questions went, and my mind was whirling, recognising that something big was shifting.
But at the end of those weeks, I emerged clean and strong with no more doubts about what had been a life long issue for me. I felt empowered. I felt like a better version on myself. That sounds too good to be true right? Luckily for you though, I’m not selling anything… No steak knives here, just a new perspective that could change the way you approach life, and improve the way you feel about yourself.
So next time you see a challenge, I encourage you. Ask yourself, “How can this help me to become who I want to be?” Then take a deep breath and walk forward!