Challenges happen. We all face obstacles in life. Some are big, and some are small. The great news is, whether big or small, you can use the same steps to overcome these obstacles.
Some days it could be something small like stubbing your toe on the door that can send your whole world spiraling down. Or maybe your toddler hits you, and you take it so personally that everything seems to fall apart. Other days the obstacles are much more tremendous and more real; you bomb a meeting at work, or your partner loses their job. Obstacles are real, but thankfully they don’t have to stop you. Deepak Chopra says that “obstacles are opportunities in disguise.” Here are a few tips on overcoming those obstacles and using them as opportunities for your life.
Accept that Life Comes with Challenges
Know that if there is one thing true for all of the world, it’s this: We will have challenges. While I would love it if it were so, it merely is not smooth sailing all the time in this journey of life. That is simply as true as the fact that you need to pay your taxes. Accept that the challenges will come and rather than worrying about what you can do to avoid them focus on how you will get through them when they present themselves.
Accept and Control Your Emotions
An essential step to moving past the challenges in your life is to accept the emotions that you have but not to let them drive your decision making. Problems are real, and they are frustrating, annoying, depleting, and upsetting. They can make you angry, sad or even depressed. But that’s OK. That’s natural. Accept these feelings. These feelings are a part of being human. It’s OK to be upset.
Once you’ve accepted your feelings, acknowledge that they do not have to determine what you do next. Don’t let your emotions drive you to take short-term action that derails your long-term plans. If you can use your feelings to keep moving forward, great. If not, once you’ve acknowledged and accepted those emotions, put them to the side as you think about what to do next. Rather than focusing on how you feel in this moment, focus on how you want to feel in the future. Use that future state of emotion to help you make decisions on what the next best action is.
Reframe Your Negative Thoughts
Along with obstacles come negative thoughts. It’s natural. Reframe those thoughts to something positive. Reframing your thoughts will help you to work through your barriers and come out more positive on the other side.
Rather than thinking, “this will never work out” instead consider, “what can I do differently to make this work out?”
Instead of thinking, “this wasn’t meant for me,” think, “what am I learning from this so that I can grow into the person I am meant to be?”
If your thoughts go to a place where you feel like it’s all or nothing, realize that this simply is not true. No one is perfect and few things are as black and white as they seem to be in the moment. Take some time to think about how they could be different. Don’t give yourself the option that they must be this way.
If you find yourself thinking all is lost and that this obstacle will be the complete downturn of your life, reframe the story that you’re telling yourself to one where this obstacle is the exact challenge you needed to live the life that you want to live. Put yourself as the heroine of the story and use your thoughts to create a happy ending based on everything that you learned coming through this obstacle.
Focus On What You Can Control
You cannot control everything. Recognize and understand this. It’s difficult to do when you’re facing a massive obstacle, but it’s crucial. Spending your time and energy on things you can’t control stops you from being able to take action on the things that you can control. Once you recognize what you can control, take action there. The best place to start is with yourself and your reaction. If nothing else in life, you can control how you react to different situations.
Something that has helped me in times of serious obstacles is to make a list of everything I cannot control, and one of everything that I can control. I then focus on what I can control. When thoughts, frustrations, and anger come up on the things I can’t control, I look at that list of things I can’t control, so I know that this is not something that I can do anything about. What I can do something about is XYZ. I look at the list of things I can control, then I divert that energy into changing things that are within my power.
And religious or not the serenity prayer is something that is quite awesome for all of us; it goes like this,” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Repeat this to yourself often in times of obstacle.
Ditch The Drama
Do not make new challenges for yourself by creating drama around the obstacles that you are already facing. Let the drama go. Drama helps to drive the negative emotions that keep you from the clarity you need to possess to take the right actions for your long-term success. When it comes to working through obstacles in life, ditch the drama. If people are bringing drama to you, step away from them. Even if they seem to have good intentions, their extra drama will only make it harder for you to work through your obstacles. Drama in and of itself is an obstacle. Let it go.
Don’t Give Up
Never give up. Obstacles are going to occur, and while that is frustrating and quite honestly sucks it’s simply something you’re going to have to deal with if you want to create a life that you love. Do not give up.
Ask For Help
You do not have to face your obstacles alone. As a working mom, it can be so easy to feel like we have to bear the burden put upon us, and that is just not true. When you are facing tough times, whether they are big obstacles or small obstacles, ask for help. Help is how you will get through your challenges. The trick is to think about what type of help you need before you ask for it. When you’re going through an obstacle you might just need support, someone to vent to and to share your frustration with who will take that frustration and help you to reframe it into something positive. If that’s what you need, let your friend, your mother, or your spouse know.
Sometimes you need more tactical help; you need people to do things for you. That’s OK too. Think specifically about what you need from someone and then ask them for it. Sometimes the help that we need doesn’t even have to come from a person; it can come from technology or service. If the obstacle requires you to free up time so that you can deal with it, maybe look at outsourcing some of what’s going on in your life for a moment. Can you get a cleaner for the next couple of months, or perhaps have your groceries delivered? These things might be an extra expense, but for a temporary time to help you through your obstacle could be just what you need so that you can come out shining on the other side.
The point is that you do not need to go through your obstacles alone, and, when you can get help, you’ll get through them more quickly.
Look for the Lesson
This one is tough in the moment. Yet, our obstacles put us in a place of being very uncomfortable, and when we move through uncomfortable situations, we learn. Take time to pause as you work through your obstacle and think about what am I learning here? It will most likely be challenging to put a positive spin on this in the moment. However, if you keep asking yourself, “what am I learning here?”, once you get through your obstacle, the lesson will be much more apparent. And in having a lesson, you will find more peace with yourself at the end of this trouble.
Look For The Opportunity
The obstacles we face in life can be opportunities if we let them. I have met some obstacles over time, such as growing up on welfare, being the only black woman senior leader in the room, having a young son, and being the breadwinner. One thing that I learned from each of these obstacles is that each obstacle has forced me to look at life in a new way. That opportunity has afforded me new ways of thinking and a new path to action. I’ve also grown more resilient and determined over time. As you work through your obstacles, remember that they can truly be opportunities to help at leveling up your life.
To overcome obstacles with confidence check out, How To Be A Confident Woman.
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