Embracing Obstacles: 9 Steps to Keep Your Emotions in Check
Embracing Obstacles seems very counter-intuitive. Obstacles suck...don't they? Most people don’t like obstacles. That makes sense. After all, when you’ve got a goal that you’re trying to
accomplish, the last thing you want or need is something standing in your way. Obstacles seem to make us stand still. They
keep us from getting where we want to go. They cause us to lose whatever
momentum we’ve built up. In worst-case scenarios, they become the roadblocks standing
in the way of allowing us ever to get there at all.
With all this in mind, it’s no wonder
obstacles look so daunting.
You might as well pack up now and go home. Right?
What if obstacles weren’t as bad as you
thought? What if the one thing you’re facing right now might hold the solution
to the very problem you’re trying to solve?
Consider this for a moment: What if
what you’re looking at is not so much an obstacle, as an opportunity? That it’s your emotions holding you back, making you
think an obstacle is a stopping point, instead of a new beginning?
It’s time to rethink obstacles.
Read on to find nine simple steps that will
help you keep your emotions in check as you reach out and embrace obstacles.
It’s time to see the opportunities you never imagined were there and to travel
new roads you’ve never been down before.
1. Take a Minute
Whatever you’re doing when you hit the
obstacle, quit it. When you stop, you give yourself time to consider the options
without all the emotions flaring up. You guard yourself against acting
impulsively in a way you might come to regret later on.
To do this: Start by taking a deep breath or two.
Define the emotions you’re feeling, then wait for them to calm. Knowing
whether you’re sad, or angry, or frustrated will help you to find that calm
place faster, as you would address each emotion differently. For example, ask
yourself what you’re angry at if you are indeed angry. If you’re sad, accept
the sorrow as being a natural part of the disappointment of meeting something
that keeps you from your goal.
As challenging as it might be, don’t try to
rush through the feeling or push it down. The best way to use this setback as
fodder for out-of-the-box thinking is to embrace the emotion, no matter what it
is. Own it and feel it in your body. Once you feel it’s settled, you’re ready
to move on. This process may take an hour, a day, or a week, depending on how
major the project and how substantial the complication.
2. Accept Where You Are At the Moment (a.k.a.: Resisitance Is Futile)
Realize obstacles happen. The more you fight
them, the worse they’re going to seem. Like standing in quicksand, the sooner
you come to accept the situation, the better it’s going to go for you. It’s the
struggle that pulls you down. So, take a minute to tell yourself this is a natural
and healthy part of the process. Remember, the emotions you’re feeling are
legitimate and real. It’s where you are, right now, at this moment, but the
feeling won’t last forever.
3. Flip the Switch
Next, take a step back and look at the
obstacle from an outside point of view. That means looking at it as if you were
a stranger standing on the outside of your life looking in. What would they see
right now? Question your assumptions to find a unique solution.
After acknowledging the emotions of the
moment, choose to let them go. It’s time to switch over to the logic side of
your brain, where you store wisdom and experiences. That’s where you’re able to
process what just happened and consider your options.
4. Get Creative
Here’s where a little flexibility is going to
go a long way. Start examining the alternatives. Be as creative as possible and
don’t discount anything offhand for being too silly. Sometimes it’s those
silly ideas that are going to get you thinking along a different path entirely.
Sure, it’s normal to feel some disappointment at this point. Chances are you
had your path all planned out. But when you consider all the new possibilities,
it’s easy to get excited about trying something new. Use this energy to fuel
you toward the next step.
5. Embrace the Lesson
Every obstacle holds something from which you
can learn. Ask yourself what you gained in facing the roadblock. How are you
looking at the world differently? What can you share with those around you
about your experience? When you cannot only ask these questions but also answer
them, you’re discovering the meaning in the encounter. You haven’t wasted your
experience, and even roadblocks can hold a purpose.
As the saying goes: When you lose, don't lose the lesson!
I know...I know. I don't want to hear this, either. It's the only helpful option, though. The alternative is to remain stuck, and that sucks even more than trying to learn something from the current not-so-great situation.
6. Break Things Down Into Mini-Steps
This may sound defeatist, but I've always found it helpful to set the bar low for myself. I set the bar so low that I'm bound to be successful! Frequently our problem with obstacles starts
with trying to take on too much at once. In moving forward, re-examine the goal
you were trying to accomplish. How can you break down your goal into smaller
steps? By focusing on these more modest goals, you’ll find it easier to move
ahead. Also, you won’t be quite so overwhelmed by the big picture.
7. Admit You're Human
Everyone makes mistakes. By permitting
yourself to fail, you’ll accept obstacles sometimes occur due to human error.
In some ways, these feel like the worst sorts of obstacles because it’s easy to
get caught up in a negative thinking spiral when this happens. You might even
start questioning your abilities and wind up wanting to give up on your goal altogether.
Here’s where it becomes crucial to keep things
in perspective. By acknowledging you are only human after all, you’re able to
admit when you are wrong and to move on. What’s more, you’ll be better able to
accept when you make mistakes again in the future, because after all, you will.
We all do.
8. Reconsider the Goal
Oftentimes, we have to fire and then aim...if that makes sense. It's always better to do somethings than to do nothing. Chances are, however, that we won't hit the mark perfectly straight out of the gate. I really hate that! But, it can be helpful to take action towards a goal and readjust, as needed. I call this making successive approximations towards the goal.
In the end, it might be the obstacle was
connected to what you were trying to accomplish in the first place. It might be
the goal either wasn’t well thought out or isn’t what you needed to do in the
first place. It might be time to consider the original premise all over again.
Is this obstacle trying to tell you something?
Sometimes the obstacle comes because you’d
made a shift in what you were trying to do. Have you somehow changed your goal
midstream? It might be you need to rethink your plan of attack entirely. When
this happens, your obstacle has instead become an opportunity to move in a
direction that suits your purposes better.
It might seem odd to be thinking about
celebrations when talking about obstacles but consider this: When you celebrate
your accomplishments, you embrace the journey you’ve been on, barriers and all.
Even if you’ve stalled out completely, you can celebrate the progress you made
and the work you put into the project. These are all worth getting excited
about, and the emotions here are worth embracing.
Then when the party is over, ask yourself
where you want to go from here. Make choosing a new goal part of the
celebration. That’s also something to get excited over.
As a note, you should never have to do hard things alone. When you’re facing an obstacle, it’s okay to ask for help. Mentors and support systems are integral to the process of working your way through difficulties. The benefit of a mentor is clear: They’ve very likely been in this position before, and have the wisdom and insight to lead you through to the next stage of development.
Support systems are made up of those friends, co-workers, and relatives who can act as the bulwark to shore you up when you feel like you’re falling flat on your face. This group should only ever be made up of people who support you wholeheartedly. That’s not to say they’re all cheerleaders or "yes-men." A sound support system is willing to speak up when they see you heading in what they perceive to be a wrong direction. They’re also there to encourage you and to remind you why you’re working toward this goal in the first place.
Finally, don’t discount professional help where it’s needed. If you find you’re having trouble separating your emotions from the process, you might need a little bit of help in working things through. There’s nothing wrong with seeking advice from a counselor or medical professional if you find you’re overwhelmed and unable to proceed.
...and another thing...Success Takes Longer Than You Think!!!
for your life.
success you want to obtain…
going to take a lot longer than you anticipate when you start the journey.
We get a
good idea about something we want to be, do, have and the idea captures our
minds and emotions. The honeymoon phase is awesome. Daydreaming and
brainstorming of your exciting new idea and the world of possibility that will
open up once you reach this new goal.
energized and ready to take on the world.
If you are
new to this game, I’m sorry to tell you but you have a mountain ahead of you.
And no one has ever successfully scaled a mountain quickly and easily.
a distance, the mountain may not look that big. It looks like fairly smooth
terrain and a manageable grade when you stare at the mountain from a few miles
away. You excitedly sprint to your starting point.
the work begins and within a very short period of time, reality starts to sink
in at the difficulty and struggle that awaits you.
don’t make it far enough up the mountain to be invested in the journey. They quit
early enough that the pain of investment isn’t harsh enough. The sting of
quitting isn’t harsh enough.
the goal at the summit of your mountain is something that you REALLY want… and
you have enough reasons to get there (and enough reasons not to quit), then
your first mission becomes the “investment phase”.
You have to
put in enough blood, sweat and tears to reach a point where turning around and
quitting would be more painful that continuing.
reach this point, you gain a whole new perspective on life. The struggle
doesn’t go away, but it takes on a new form. You find a sort of peace and
“sense of knowing” during your struggle. You know you will make it to your
goal… you just don’t know how long it will take. But it almost doesn’t matter
because you no longer count the cost. You are focused purely on the journey.
This is an
easy metaphor to understand but it applies to anything in life.
point to first be the kind of person who dreams, has big visions and gives
yourself the permission to set major goals.
CERTAIN you stay with it long enough that turning around is no longer an
it will likely take far longer than you think to reach your peak.
In the end, when you're embracing obstacles you
meet in trying to attain your goals, you’re likewise embracing a new way of
thinking. You’re adjusting your mindset to one of success instead of failure.
You’re accepting there are different ways to do things, and that the things
standing in your way are more often new opportunities than a true stopping
point. You’re looking at life in a way which allows you to go places you never
thought possible before.
The key here is in control. Your emotions
shouldn’t be what’s holding your back. Of course, it’s okay to feel what you do
when you meet with an obstacle. The key is in not staying there when it’s time
to move forward again because you will move forward again if you keep trying.
Embracing Obstacles and More Brain Hacks