I used to think challenges were bad. My thinking has turned around on that.
Did you ever try to do something that was so easy, so piece-of-cake, so guaranteed that you didn’t have one emotion, doubt, or fear about it? Boring, isn’t it?
“Oh my God,” I thought. “How am I ever going to find my way through this? If I don’t figure this out, I’ll die. Or go to jail. Dear God, please help me.” The fear, anxiety, and sheer importance and improbability I faced when I first got sober both overwhelmed and motivated me to stay sober. All of it pushed me to search for answers, to get up off my butt and go to meetings, to ask for help, to be of service.
Challenges get our attention in a world where that’s often hard to do.
“What is this? What’s happened to me? I’m sinking in quicksand,” I thought when I began to face my codependency issues. The confusion, fear, and anger felt uncomfortable enough to motivate me to change.
The same was true about the challenge of being a single parent, after my divorce. The sheer terror of being faced with the sole responsibility for raising two children was both too much and just what I needed to get my attention and help direct me to the next set of lessons in life. The challenges of single parenthood brought out my best.
When my son died, the challenge became too much. This time, I didn’t bounce back. But eventually, just the teeniest part of me became curious about where something this devastating might lead.
Even the small challenges—those problems that interrupt our day or our mood—can serve to get our attention. If we are mindful, we can find positive motivators in small problems.
“Why didn’t anyone tell me how hard this was going to be?” I’ve heard many people express these kinds of fears about sobriety, recovery from codependency, parenthood, life. I’ve said it myself. Remember, it takes heat and pressure to turn carbon into diamonds. The pressure of challenges is what shapes and forms us.
Value: This week we’ll explore the value of a genuine rise-to-the-occasion, feet-to-the-fire, step-up-to-the-plate challenge.