How Challenges Become Opportunities

challengeAre you a person who loves challenges, or hates them? I must admit I’ve spent most of my life as a person who hates them. I always thought of challenges as frustrating, maddening obstacles keeping me from where I want to be. I even used to take them personally, feeling like the world must hate me and like to see me struggle. Oh, I did overcome most of them, and there were plenty, believe me, but I always wondered why it just had to be so damn hard.

As I grow older and (hopefully) wiser – I’m learning to see them differently. Most of us know that great rewards require great sacrifice and effort. You know the old saying that nothing worthwhile comes easy? In a sense that’s true. If everything we wanted was handed to us, we probably wouldn’t have a lot of appreciation for it. On the other hand, when we work hard for something and then see it manifest before our eyes, we get such a powerful sense of pride and accomplishment. We can point to it and say, “I did that. It was tough, but I did it anyway.”

Challenges are truly opportunities. Opportunities to grow and learn, to strengthen ourselves, to test ourselves and our faith. They reveal how badly we want to create the dreams in our hearts, and how hard we’re willing to work for them. This is such a blessing. It may not seem that way at first, but with a tiny shift in attitude, we can see that we have been handed an incredible opportunity.

The next time life hands you a challenge, stop and consider for a moment what it means. Is the Universe saying “no”, or “I want you to try harder?” Don’t look at challenges as an end, look at them as a door leading to your heart’s desires. That door might be locked, but you have the key. Maybe you forgot where you put the key, or you forgot that you even had it to begin with. It might take some effort and patience to find it again – or you might even have to create a new one, but believe that you will, even if you’re not sure how yet.

I’m learning that it’s not important to have all the answers right now. When challenges rise up before us, we may not know how to get around them, or through them. It might seem hopeless at first. Challenges can seem so overwhelming when we don’t have a solution. However, life itself is very much like this too. Sometimes life is like bumping around in a dark room, trying to find the light switch. It is possible to get through the room without finding the light switch immediately, we just need to step slowly and carefully. Moment to moment, we find our way.

Rather than giving up when obstacles appear in your path, look at them as welcome challenges. The biggest challenge is choosing your own attitude. Will you get flustered and angry, or will you get excited and determined? Will you lay down and cry, or will you roll up your sleeves and get to work? Some of us take on a victim mentality when obstacles arise, and I can see why this happens. I look back and see clearly that’s what I did. It does feel like the Universe is picking on us, doesn’t it? I think we’ve all been there! I know I have!

Why not change your mindset and think of obstacles as a personal challenge? Rather than feeling like the Universe is picking on you, challenge yourself to figure out a solution. Say to yourself, “Okay, such and such has happened, now what am I going to do about it”? Put your problem-solving skills to work.

Some people even actively seek out personal challenges to face head-on, so they can develop their skills and sense of courage, so that life challenges seem much less of a hurdle.

Once we begin to change our attitude about obstacles and challenges, they can actually become fun. Our competitive human nature rises up and gets ready to win, no matter what. We develop a steely determination to not be beaten.

We can even learn to welcome challenges with open arms, safe in the knowledge that our skills and strengths are going to be much improved when we get to the other side of them, and we always do. Now I can look at myself and say “Thank you challenges, you’ve made me who I am today”.

In fact, I like to pretend there is a great critic in the sky who laughs mockingly at me and says, “You can’t do that.” I simply grin wickedly, roll up my sleeves and say, “Watch me!”

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