These are challenging times.
Everyone in my life, everyone that I speak to, has something going on in their lives right now that is challenging them. It could be related to health, to relationship, to uncertainty, to employment...all of it. This realization got me thinking about a conversation I had with a good friend and someone who is connected to self not too long ago. This person has been in my life a few years, and has been a friend and guide to me through some of the most uncertain times of my life so far. The last time we touched base, the conversation became about the opportunity that challenges give us.
For most people, challenges are something negative, something to be overcome and fixed. But in our conversation, he offered to me that challenges that come into our lives were not negative. They aren't something to be resisted. What if, instead, challenges were an opportunity to stop, listen, go within and get curious. What if, instead of obstacles, they are tools. As soon as he said it, it resonated with me. With that shift, he was able to turn my problem area into a growth area, and instead of giving energy to the negative, I was able to tap into a positive and hopeful energy which turned out to be a MUCH healthier place. I am so grateful for this conversation.
As the days went on after this conversation, I carried this message with me. Inevitably, during a pandemic, there would be other chances to apply this thinking. And so there were - were there ever! Each time I came across a challenge, I would acknowledge it for what it was, and then apply this new lens to the issue. It was as if I put the challenge in the center of a room, stepped away from it and walked around the issue to examine it better and ask questions. I got curious and instead of being IN the challenge, I was outside of it, seeking how best to use it and evaluating why it was coming up in the first place. Game changer. Now, the challenge didn't hold the power, my perception and curiosity did. Now, instead of being taxed and exhausted by things, I was able to use it and "shift into discovery mode", as he called it.
Now, I'll add the disclaimer here that deciding to adopt this framework does not negate the sometimes very painful realities around us. Climate change is very real and destructive. Civil and political rights are under constant attack. The lure of divisiveness is very real for some, as so many have chosen a life and actions that are built from a place of deep fear. This pandemic that we are living through touches all of our lives; not the least of which are the animals. Our fellow beings, whose exploitation and the culture that supports that very exploitation fuels this thing that is killing so many. People are asleep at the wheel. These are big challenges.
But I wonder, if as we approach each of them, and figure out solutions, could we come to them with curiosity? Could we examine their deeper, perhaps interconnected, meaning? Could we ask "I wonder what it would take to X?"
What would it take?