[Obstacles – Part 2 of 4] In part one I suggested that when obstacles are seen as opportunities, their potential value becomes more apparent and it’s easier to be open to them. Now I would like to offer some other ways of looking at these blocks and struggles that can change your relationship to them, allowing you to deal with and move through them differently.
One of the hallmarks of this growth process is that you are able – and willing – to take more responsibility for your experience. In this case “responsibility” means beginning to work with two ideas in particular:
1. Much of your inner life is largely unknown to you and, in an effort to reveal the mystery to yourself, you will project it outward onto the people, things and events around you so that you can see it. If you disapprove of or don’t like yourself but can’t acknowledge that, you instead will begin to perceive that others don’t think very highly of you.
2. Likewise, you will draw experiences to mirror your internal state. If an unusual number of things in your life are breaking down and failing, you might be trying to tell yourself that you feel in some way like you’re falling apart. Maybe you’ve outgrown an old belief system and it is breaking down on you. If you notice that a lot of people seem to be mad at you – many times people you don’t even know – it’s possible you’re carrying unexplored anger.
In both cases taking responsibility allows you to stop blaming circumstances and people, feeling helpless or perceiving the world as a hostile place. Now you have a lot more information to work with, and you can begin making changes that can transform not just how you view what happens but what actually happens.
What’s so powerful about this is that it reduces your dependency on the outside world shifting to accommodate you. (“I can be happy as soon as it stops raining.”) When you shift your internal reality, you will either feel differently about what IS, or what IS will be transformed, because you no longer need it to be the way it was.
If you feel disrespected by your boss at work, instead of trying to get him to treat you better, (or switching jobs, where it’s quite likely you will recreate a similar experience), often the solution is to work on self-respect and then notice how many people around you begin to see you in a whole new light.
It’s also possible that as you begin to respect yourself, you will see that this is the wrong situation for you, and you do want to change jobs. You’ll probably pursue a different job in a different way than you would have, and prospective employers are going to meet a different person than they would have.
One word of caution: taking responsibility for your experience often feels like taking the blame, at first, and this can be demoralizing – and even prohibitive. Merely shifting fault to yourself is missing the point and can just make you feel worse.
A big part of this is not just changing your actions but changing your thoughts. New thoughts, in turn, will inspire new actions. And, it requires discipline and practice to recognize that you’ve focused on something completely unproductive and switch your mindset.
The good news is: life will always provide you with plenty of chances to practice! (That’s usually the only way to break habits.)
And those persistent negative thoughts? They’re belief systems you’ve practiced until they became deeply ingrained habits.
In our next episode, our hero will tackle “But I Thought I Dealt With That Already?!” Syndrome. Stay tuned.