Every day, life gifts us with opportunities to which we are free to accept, or to struggle with, and I don’t know about you, but when I find myself having chosen to struggle I am always left exhausted by the ensuing battle.
Noah Webster defines Struggle as:
To contend or fight violently with an opponent; to make great efforts, or attempts; strive; labor; to make one’s way with difficulty.
Can you feel the weight of the effort just from reading the above definition? Opponents, fighting violently, and making ones way with difficulty - no wonder we’re all fried!
When I was a kid, running around the neighborhood with my friends, we were always challenging ourselves, as well as one another e.g., who could run to the corner the fastest, who could stand on their head the longest, and I once challenged myself to ride my unicycle down five, steep, cement steps (no handrails), and that was before helmets and kneepads! (I did it, BTW!) Those challenges were fun and filled with a love for life and laughter no matter who won – or crashed. It wasn’t so much the winning, but the doing that was fun. The opportunity! You remember, don’t you? It was the challenge that got our adrenalin going and our imaginations soaring. It was the love for the game and for one another that pulled us forward in those challenges. And just look at what we created and accomplished, and all without fear or struggle.
The big question now is: As adults, how do we view our struggles through the lens of challenge and, once again, let the love for the game pull us forward to opportunity and the quality resolutions we want? Our challenges are so much bigger now, we have families and people depending on us, and it’s much easier to let the fear of our struggles push us forward as opposed to allowing our love of the game to pull us forward, isn’t it?
Before I understood this I was burned out from “making my way with difficulty” and allowing the fear and pain to influence my choices and push me forward before even considering the consequences that I decided to give up on struggle - cold turkey - and make different choices.
The first choice I made was to view struggle as a challenge; and to see the challenge not as a problem that needed to be solved, but as an opportunity to create something great. This way of looking at my life gives me clarity and focus - much like when I rode my unicycle down the five cement front steps of my childhood home – there is now an opportunity and I enjoy the process – plus, I usually land on my feet (and, with a smile, versus a worn-out and sweaty grimace). This also taught me that it is the opportunity within the challenge that is the gift. This is what makes the work – the action – fun.
The second choice I made was to stop labeling the challenge as good or bad, or right or wrong, but simply accept it as ‘what is.’ When we view the ‘what is’ through the lens of challenge, our energy shifts and we create space within where we can access a clarity and focus that is fertile ground for sourcing empowering choices and actions, a bit of fun, and, most importantly, time and space for the love to pull us forward to a powerful and positive resolution.
So, try it. The next time you find yourself in the middle of a struggle, step back and accept ‘what is,’ and see the ‘what is’ as a challenge. Look for the opportunity within the challenge, revel in the clarity and focus you find, take action, and enjoy the landing - on your feet!