by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
It's easy for any of us to be defeated by our problems. Whether they are big or small doesn't matter. They're our problems and because of that, they can seem tailor-designed to knock us down.
Someone recently asked me how to overcome their problems. Regardless of specifics, when faced with difficulty, having the attitude to work toward a solution or win victory, is the first step to creating forward momentum.
I praised this person for having the desire to find a way through their challenges.
The Buddhist philosophy I practice has taught me that struggles are actually precious treasures to appreciate. We can actually use them as stepping stones to deeper happiness, solid inner strength and an awakening to our inherent wisdom. All this personal expansion leads to experiencing a rich, more fulfilled life.
The conversation with the person who asked for my help reminded me that I need to repeatedly polish my attitude and actions toward the challenges in my life.
I've learned that developing a determined spirit to win over difficulties is powerful. No matter what the problem is, having that spirit to keep fighting is itself the key to victory. It’s when we lose hope, or stop believing in our vast potential to achieve or transform anything, that problems get the better of us.
There are many things we can do to deal with our problems. But without the mindset toward winning ultimate victory, the results may prove less than satisfactory.
In other words, we can take plenty of action, but if we still hold doubt in our hearts about ourselves or our desired positive outcome, we diminish our results.
You Get Stronger Through Challenging A Problem
If we first work on strengthening the attitude behind our actions, we stand a greater chance of overcoming the problem or reaching a goal. Actions we take are only part of the solution or winning strategy.
Equally as valuable is the inner strength we forge by enduring the problem state.
As long as we resolve never to give up on ourselves, every problem actually can serve as a springboard toward improving ourselves and our quality of life. Building a strong inner intent ultimately manifests in taking wise action. This is the basis for creating a happier environment, and advancing our personal growth.
Plus, the added perk of solving our problem.
Be Like Einstein; Stay Longer
There’s an Einstein quote I love that goes, "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
Problems can function as beneficial to our lives because they push us into the proverbial corner until we learn to strengthen our belief in the unlimited potential within ourselves and humanity.
Problems can force us to work harder to mine that golden potential. Perhaps if we didn't experience our difficulties, we'd never make the kind of effort necessary to uncover our full abilities.
The fact is that we all have problems. Our capacity to overcome these is infinite. And by winning over them, we give others incredible hope to do the same.
Let's continue seeking ways to overcome our problems. In that sense, we are already winning.
By the way, my photo essay, How To Use Difficulties To Inspire Appreciation & Creativity, touches on this same point. I hope it encourages you and others reading this!
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by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
BIG PLAN A
I’ve had surprising challenges since I set out to achieve personal goals. I made bold decisions to leave a career I’d outgrown, sell my home, move out-of-state to be in place as caregiver for my aging parent, then use my new situation to apply myself toward my lifelong dreams of working from home as a creator.
CHANGE CAN BE AWKWARD
I’ve learned through this process that just because I’m doing something for a good reason (help my mother and relieve other family members) doesn’t mean it will be easy or even appreciated by others. Big changes bring out big obstacles.
People need time to adjust to significant transitions. Sometimes the initial shift brings out uncomfortable aspects within a relationship or from within a person. People just flat-out respond differently (including me) when facing new challenges. I’m learning to check my expectations at the door, lower my judgment, strive to listen to opposing perspectives, and work on the only person I have control over; me.
EXPECT NOTHING TO BE EASY
I’ve also learned that going after my dreams doesn’t mean they will be handed to me on a silver platter. It’s been my experience that thinking the hardest part is over is almost always wrong. Something more difficult or unexpected often presents itself. It is best to prepare myself to expect nothing to be easy, and to forge a life-state ready for impending problems.
I’ve found that being true to myself and going all out for my dreams means I may face resistance in the form of judgment from others whose values differ from my own, or who have an outdated version of me in their psyche. That means I must embolden myself to withstand countering views, to stand my ground and persist on paving my new pathway without support or understanding.
Again, expect nothing.
DISCOVERING YOUR ABILITY TO CREATE PLAN B
Reflecting on myself through this period of troubles, I’ve found my weaknesses as well as strengths I didn’t realize were in me. On the plus side, I’ve discovered that despite the fact my best laid plans were completely skewed from the start, I have qualities that enable me to push through and create Plan B.
Let me share a bit of my story to make my point. My plan was to sell my home, and use the profits to cover 6-months to a year's expenses for my out-of-state move while building my online business as a blogger, podcast host and course creator. This plan and timeline were both utterly botched by an inexperienced realtor, an unforeseen hurricane, and unexpected family health emergencies.
My home was under contract to close when I moved to Kentucky from Florida last July. But the buyer strung me and my realtor along a series of peculiar delays. In hindsight, I now know these delays should’ve been avoided by my realtor quickly cancelling that buyer’s contract early on, to immediately put my lovely home back on market. Instead, that buyer failed to win loan approval after three months’ delay, just in time for a hurricane of historic power (Irma) to strike near my home, causing a housing slow-down (but, fortunately no damage to my home).
After the hurricane passed, I stressed to my realtor my urgency to sell my home, as I had not anticipated moving out of state before my home sale. She had a melt-down during our phone conversation, and instead vindictively sabotaged my home sale. Though I attempted giving her time and the benefit of doubt, due to no showings in 6 months, I finally found a second realtor.
My new realtor showed the home 11 times in less than 2 months during the slowest (holidays) season, and in February, I finally sold my home after an 8-month delay. (Whew!)
FINDING THE VALUE WITHIN YOUR STRUGGLES
This is only a partial view of the story, as I simultaneously dealt with additional unanticipated challenges as a new caregiver, a bizarre botching of my investment funds from my previous job's Human Resources department, and with other family issues that slowed down my focus on establishing my online business.
But, I also had a variety of mystic protection and benefits.
I was eligible for disaster relief due to the hurricane, even though my home suffered zero damage! This allowed me nearly 6 months of freedom from one credit card and my mortgage payments! Thanks to my diligent juggling with living off my credit cards while waiting for my home sale, I achieved my goal to keep my credit score unscathed (currently 836!). Having struggled for many years to transform my credit score from horrible to stellar, and keep it there, was a true personal victory.
Due to the delay, I managed to grow my IRA to more than I anticipated, and finally got my funds transferred to my account. I had a wonderful local group of capable men volunteer (in 20° snowy weather!) to move my belongings from an expensive pod to an affordable, more convenient storage unit!
YOUR TRUE VICTORY IS WITHIN YOUR PROBLEMS
I’m grateful for these wonderful benefits, but find my struggles exponentially more valuable. Through adversity, I began to forge tenacity, resourcefulness, flexibility, appreciation, develop patience, tap into my inherent wisdom, and fuel my sense of empathy for others facing unforeseen challenge.
I also learned that my tendencies to doubt myself, complain about my hardships, or be inflexible and narrow-minded do not add value nor provide solutions, relief or comfort to me or anyone around me.
Having to experience a failed Plan A, move on to Plan B, while juggling all the complications that entails, is an infinitely more valuable chapter in my life than having had everything go smoothly from the start.
CHALLENGING WORKOUTS BUILD STRENGTH
Difficulties are like climbing mountains.
The higher the altitude gets, the more the climber has to develop and expand in survival capacity. Just walking down a straight, flat road doesn’t test or build one’s abilities in comparison to climbing a mountain.
But after climbing a mountain, a walk down the road feels like a vacation.
What I’ve learned is that Plan B is about my behavior as a human being.
How do I become the most capable, compassionate, wise, person?
How do I fulfill my greatest potential?
Setting goals that seem impossible to achieve, getting my plans crushed and having to devise a new way through--being forced to find innovative ways to get through a challenge--is what dreams are made of. Responding to each surprising obstacle with the determination to win victory no matter what is crucial to my becoming the best I can be.
The developments I make through struggles in one aspect of my life interconnect and apply toward other aspects of my life. Through my 8-month journey, I forged discipline to write, compose and network, bringing me a sudden burst of freelance work, creative projects, and personal connections. I'm also becoming a better writer, social media manager, and have expanded my content to podcasts and affiliate marketing. These are in sync with what I envision as my lifelong dream path to manifest my full potential as an artist for peace.
Plan B is about my behavior as a human being. It’s about how to respond to the difficulties in front of me. It’s about how I create a better me out of the situation. Creating value out of any situation is transformational for me and those around me.
Plan B, from this moment forward, is about brilliant transformation.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about my perspective on struggles as a means to make improvement. Please share your comments below.
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In my INSPIRATION blogs, you’ll find ways to overcome obstacles, reach goals, and experience more joy in the moment with spiritual awareness and inner transformation.