I know these questions will definitely strike a nerve with you, because we ALL encounter obstacles on a daily basis.
It it looks like an obstacle, and it feels like an obstacle, then it MUST be an obstacle……?
Obstacles appear to come in many shapes and sizes.
There are the daily obstacles that may be mildly annoying and may look like this:
- You’re in the car on the way to work, and you run into an unexpected detour.
- You’re trying to log onto a website, but you’ve forgotten the password.
Then there are the obstacles that ramp up the frustration factor a bit, and they look more like this:
- You’re trying to leave for work when your daughter tells you she forgot she has to bring cookies in for the whole class today. Stopping at the store to buy cookies will make you late for work. Again.
- You’ve arrived at work, and as soon as you walk in the door, your boss hands you a project that needs to be completed by the end of the day. Unfortunately, you have 10 other things that need to be done by the end of the day as well.
And then there are what I think of as the bigger life obstacles, and they may look like this:
- You have been a stay-at-home parent, and your last child has started middle school. You’re ready to think about going back to work, but you don’t think anyone will hire you since you’ve been out of the work force for so long.
- You’ve experienced a string of unhappy relationships, and you don’t think you are ever going to find a fulfilling relationship with someone special.
Although these scenarios may look very different, you may be surprised at the similarities in how you respond to them. And you might also be surprised to discover that not all of these scenarios are the REAL obstacles.
Our responses say a lot
When you run into that detour, what is your first reaction? Do you experience an initial response of anger or frustration? And then what? Do you continue to fume, projecting into the future and catastrophizing about how this detour is the start of a really bad day? Or, instead of assuming that the detour is a harbinger of a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” (credit to Judith Viorst), do you look at the detour as merely a little blip in the course of the day?
If you are just re-entering the workforce after a prolonged absence, is it REALLY likely that no one will hire you? After all, there are literally thousands of people who re-enter the workforce after being absent after a while. Why do you think you will be different? And maybe this is an opportunity for you to re-evaluate whether or not you even want to continue the work you were doing. It might be time for something completely different.
How to respond – it’s your choice
When you experience a situation that you perceive as an obstacle, you have a choice. You can judge the perceived experience as “bad” and then make assumptions about how that event will negatively impact your future (and perhaps, at the same time, use the event to confirm a distorted belief that this “always” happens to you); or, you can choose to perceive the event as just an event and nothing more. You can decide if it provides you with a learning experience (which just about everything does), or even if you can find humor in the event.
I’m not saying that a detour doesn’t represent a real physical obstacle, or re-thinking your re-entry into the workforce isn’t a challenge, but are they really the obstacles that you make then out to be, or is it your response (based on distorted beliefs) that turns them into evil obstacle monsters?
The point I’m trying to make is that how we respond to life’s bumps in the road, regardless of whether they are “routine” daily bumps, or big “life bumps”, is actually what, in many cases, creates the illusion of an obstacle, when in reality, there is no true obstacle other than our distorted, limiting beliefs.
So the next time you find yourself judging a situation as an obstacle, think twice. Pull back and look at the situation and decide if you’re thinking clearly and without judgment. It will always be easier to work through obstacles in that frame of mind. It’s your choice.
- Transform Frustration to Motivation (meditationsforwomen.com)