Do you remember what it was like when you were trying something new and felt a little uncomfortable? I was thinking about what it was like when we first learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. Do you remember? How you were so anxious…trying to quiet your loudly pounding heart as you ran through all the instructions ever given to you and hoped (maybe even prayed) that when the time came, you would be able to put into action what you had practiced so many times before? Everyone was watching and instead of thinking that you would do it right, you immediately thought of everything that could go wrong. You began to chicken out. You wanted to get off the bike. You didn’t want the person standing behind you to let go of the seat as you lifted your leg onto the pedals…even reminding them, “Don’t let go!” in a panic-stricken voice no one had ever heard before. You needed to make sure that they knew you weren’t ready. Because you weren’t! Can you remember? Has your heart picked up the “freaked out” signals via the adrenalin racing through your body? Has fear set in where excitement should live instead? Your head repeatedly screams, “I’M NOT READY! I’M NOT READY! I’M NOT READY!” You are trying to not let your body stiffen because you know that you will need your muscles to be fluid with the parts on the bicycle so that you can ride the bike. What are you thinking? I know you are thinking about crashing your bike…how dumb you are going to feel that you didn’t do it right…how you want to give up and give the bike away to charity…that you are ready to give up. Been there? Why do our thoughts when we are trying something new never go to the opposite side of the spectrum? Why aren’t we excited that we are going to have such freedom because we can ride throughout our neighborhood and to school because we know how to ride a bike? Why aren’t we proud of ourselves because we met the challenge?
Some challenges are more difficult than others…
Like most of you, I love to watch our American compete in international events, especially the Olympics. They are the athletes who dedicate their lives to achieving greatness through athletic ability, hard work, and commitment like most of us have never even seen. They perform on the world’s stage and when one of our own’s success is displayed, we feel a sense of pride as well.
Recently, one of the greatest female swimmers from the Olympic Games, Amy VanDyken-Rouen, was severely injured in a ATV accident in June of this year. Her medical diagnosis was a severed spine, which left her mostly paralyzed from the waist down. She has worked diligently over the last couple of months with different types of rehab, learning how to maneuver her wheelchair, yet still keeping a positive outlook on her new life. I watched her news conference last night as she was released from the hospital and I was inspired by appreciation for the staff who have helped her through this ordeal. At that moment, she was not an Olympic Champion — but a woman, grateful to be alive and even though her legs might not propel her through the pool as they once did, her spirit has not wavered. Although she would have never wished this upon herself, I know that her physical and mental strength will see her through.
What kinds of challenges are you facing?
We all have struggles. You may think everything is hunky dory, but there is always something that tests you. Something that just seems to make things harder because it is there. Maybe you want to lose weight. Maybe you want to quit smoking. Maybe you want the communication in your marriage to be better. Maybe you want to forgive someone who hurt you. Maybe you need to make more money. Maybe you need a more reliable form of transportation.
So, if we all have some sort of hassle in our life that makes us feel bad about ourselves, how do we fix it? Find a piece of paper and make three columns on it. At the top of each column, write “Problem”, “Issues”, “Ideas”, “Obstacles”, and “Solution”.
Write down the problem. Usually a few short words will get the idea.
Write down what prevents you from tackling the problem.
Write down every idea you can think of that will solve the problem. There are no wrong answers.
Write down the obstacles you have with each idea. For example, if your problem is “lose weight”, have identified “no exercise” in your prevention list and your idea includes “join the Y”, maybe an obstacle would be “no extra money.”
Write down the easiest solution that you can do right now. You can always go back and adjust this later. So, using the example in #4 above, your solution could be, “walk/run.” That’s pretty inexpensive if not free.
We can make the challenge bigger in our head, but if we break it down and look at it closely, we can find a way to make just about anything work. Plus, it helps us keep track of the things we have or have not tried. I need a system like to help keep me accountable. How do I know that something like the above works? Because without really knowing I had done it, I had gone through this process when I sought to lose weight a couple of years ago. I didn’t want the cost and obligation for the YMCA, but I know I needed to do something. So I began to jog that turned into running.
Whether we like it or not, we all have challenges and the biggest, most important one we are ever going to face is LIFE. Compared to others, some of our challenges may seem like nothing. But even so, we can find ourselves in grinds that we would rather not be in. But the best part is that we can meet them head on, find solutions to make things better, and change what happens next. I know that some of us do not like being in uncomfortable situations, even the ones we create. Some of us will always find an excuse to look the other way and watch someone else do what we wish we had the courage to do. That secret longing to have 20 seconds of courage never manifests itself into being anything more than a fleeting thought with no intention of real action ever to be taken. The question is…
…are you ready for the challenge?
Michelle A. Homme 2014 ©