KINDRED #65

Challenges. They are bound to come up. As we progress along the journey of enlightenment, our scope of ability changes and our challenges can also change with it. They can become bigger as we become stronger. Almost taunting us; an invisible, unconscious voice saying, “You think you’re so smart? So wise, so tough? Try this one on for size.” Then a test of your resolve will come to knock you over like a child playing chicken with the strong waves of the ocean. Eventually a big wave will come that takes you off of your feet. Is being knocked down a sign of failure?
This is an important lesson and can be very subjective. As we grow as works in progress, our challenges grow along with us. The universe will hand down tests that really hit our inner insecurities, making us question ourselves and all the progress we’ve made. I equate it to being a professional athlete facing an injury or a recovering addict facing relapse. Does being knocked down invalidate all the work we have done to get to where we are?
Maybe. I say maybe because this is where the subjective part comes in. For some people a challenge that may seem small to some is mountainous to others. Then there are huge disappointments that, unless you are in the shoes of the challenged, can seem like miniscule issues. Whether it is the misplacement of an important file, the loss of a hard fought for employment or the end of a relationship you count on both heart and soul, the question is the same, what are we going to choose to do about it?
First things first, we have to get back up. Again, this means different things to different people. Some people deal with challenges by throwing themselves into something to divert their attention. Some will engage in full scale denial so that they can pretend the challenge ever arose in the first place. Others will withdraw into a pseudo-fetal position and obsess on every ‘wrong’ decision they have ever made and every loss they have ever endured. Other extreme individuals will go full force into self-destructive behavior, using the blanket statement that, “it’s too late anyway.” They use the challenge as an excuse not to get up, not to continue trying, that they are too damaged an individual and will only bring others trouble and further disappointment. Whatever the case we MUST GET BACK UP! Even If it requires support, crutches or a forklift, unless you get up the water will continue to rush in and eventually the choice to get up will be gone in a very literal way.
It’s important to remember that this happens to everybody! We are not alone, even though it painfully feels like it. The times of huge challenge requiring inordinate strength are often the times we feel the loneliest. Lonely and embarrassed, we torture ourselves with negative questions. What if I reveal myself to be just as vulnerable as my insecurity tells me I am? What if I look like a fraud or worse, what if I am a fraud? People have come to respect me and what I have to say. I will be letting everyone down if they find out. I am professing to be an example of transformation and I’m crumbling like a child. Will everyone lose faith in me as I have lost faith in myself?
Here comes the tricky part in a situation seemingly filled with tricky parts. We’ve managed to get to our feet, now what? One way to progress forward is by taking a step back. Take our ego and emotions and fear out of the equation and break it down piece by piece. Is the challenge or circumstance genuinely our fault? Chances are the answer is no. Even if we believe the answer is yes, is it ALL our fault? Almost nothing ever is. Even if the problem arose from a choice we made, there have to be other factors or personalities involved. So once we have stepped back, brushed the sand or dirt off and looked at the challenge, we must do a clinical evaluation. We have to ask ourselves is this as big in the real world as it is inside our head? Again, the answer is usually no. Even for those of the terminally unique persuasion who find themselves up against challenges that ‘normal folks’ would see as impossible in the first place, the answer is still no. It’s our ego feeling bloody and beaten, clinging to its imaginary blue blanket, crying just LEAVE ME ALONE! If we choose to listen to that voice, the challenge will be much harder than it has to be to break down. So even if we have allowed our mind to indulge that voice for a while, the trick is to realize that is not the truth. To shake it off, stand up and be ready to kick it into gear.
The best way to achieve that is to listen to the other voice, the one that got us onto the path in the first place. The wonderful, beautiful, lyrical voice of your authentic self. It has all the answers, we only have to listen. Like the cartoon angel on one shoulder kicking the crap out of the devil on the other shoulder, picture that battle as the authentic self-versus the ego. Bet all our hope and energy on our authentic self and revel and cheer as it beats our ego out of the ring. Be present to the love and strength of our authentic self and present to how ever-present the truth is to us. Allow it to take our spirit by the hand like no earthly being can and guide us through the next steps of not only getting through the challenge but what we can get from the challenge. We may not see it at first. We may not see it until we believe it must be there. Even if it takes a satellite imaging map, a hard hat, pick axe and night vision goggles, the gift is there. And it is only for us, of us, and through us that it can emerge.
So whether we have fallen on our ass, done a face plant on a red carpet, skipped a commitment we felt too afraid to fulfill or fallen off the wagon; until our body is out of breaths and our heart is out of beats, the journey on this plane of existence isn’t over. Every problem or challenge contains a gift and usually a solution. Do not be afraid to believe in it, to believe in yourself. The authentic self is our best friend and biggest fan. Even if we are all alone, we are never alone. We are loved, we are special, we are deserving and WE CAN HANDLE IT! Enlightenment is a process without destination. Simply by acknowledging that every evolution through-out history has had challenges and set-backs not only will we be more present to our ability to train our mind to seek the gift in every circumstance, we will find that we are in extraordinarily good company.

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