"[E]verything that helped you make it to today can help you make it a brighter tomorrow."
--Paul Wesselmann, from Ripples for Reflection: Weekly Inspirations for Unleashing Your Best Self
Hopefully the extra daylight of spring and summer brings with it a lightening of the isolation, anxiety, overwhelm, and grief that have colored our collective experience this past year. It has been a year of reassessing our values and priorities. While I have yet to re-emerge in the community in any public way, I continue to provide readings and healings via the phone, as well as to wish you the very best!
“God never gives you more than you can handle.” “You are bigger than the circumstances you face.” Well… I would like to explore how we overcome the challenges we encounter, rather than simply offer the platitude of “You’ve got this.” Sometimes, life heaps an avalanche of too-much onto us; these moments require us to have faith that it is possible to overcome the situation at hand.
Life is an opportunity for growth. Growth necessarily forces us to hone our skills. For instance, eighth graders can do a number of things that are incomprehensible to second graders. Is it daunting to grow? Yes. Are we up to the task? Yes. While it may be tempting to hope that no one struggles, we would not wish that no one grow. This is not to underestimate the vital role of compassion, or to undermine attempts to create a kinder, more caring world; indeed, it seems that cultivating compassion and encouraging more care are among the callings we are here to answer. Re-framing struggle as a mechanism for growth, though, recognizes that life is challenging, even in the best of circumstances.
In the midst of being snowed under, sometimes all we can do is to breathe (and pray). Sometimes, we can do more. If we do what we can do, the universe will conspire to help us. My personal observation is that a situation feels insurmountable until—somehow—I find the strength and commitment to know that I will get through it, at which point the way forward opens up. Once I am actually through the situation, I feel as though success was inevitable; there was never a reason to doubt or fear.
Let’s stop here for a closer look. What happens when I move from drowning to overcoming? We will start with the drowning. What is the source of a sense of being deluged? Usually, we feel overwhelmed because something has changed. We may have decided to chase our dreams, change our career, or enter a relationship. Or, we may have experienced a tragedy, gotten diagnosed with a disease, or lost a home, job, or friend. Throughout life, we navigate change from both personal decisions as well as external events (which can be unexpected and unwelcome).
As children, moving through our school (and social) lessons is hard enough—even in a structured environment with resources devoted to our learning and success. As adults, the challenges we face do not come with a formalized organization, fully staffed, focused on helping us to navigate the changes we face; we must create that support system.
Often, change presents a challenge because it is new. We likely do not know the steps needed to advance our cause, much less how to construct a set-up that nurtures our success. Sometimes we are aware of where we would like to end up—and this information is useful—but we are uncertain of how to get from where we are to where we need or want to be.
Enter grit. We do what we know to do, and hope for the best. As we proceed, we get better at arranging the various pieces into place. Although we may feel as though we are treading water, we are building the system that will advance our aims. Eventually, enough of these new talents and pieces converge—with a little divine help—to open a pathway forward. Suddenly, what had seemed insurmountable no longer presents a problem; we have mastered the challenge.
In moving from drowning to overcoming, what has happened? Facing a new challenge is daunting because the road forward is unknown and often complex. Additionally, a crucial part of the transition involves transcending the limitations that we have placed on ourselves. On top of the unwieldy task before us, we must face our doubts, fears, and insecurities. We must re-wire who we are if we are to accomplish challenges that are foreign to the people we have thought ourselves to be. Moving through our self-imposed limits can be harder than performing the physical actions required of us. We must increase our certainty and worth to address our doubts and fears, and then stretch into our new capacity.
This process of overcoming obstacles facilitates growth (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically). The more we embrace overcoming—in all areas of our lives—the brighter, clearer, and stronger we become. It requires that we draw on previously untapped reserves, while embracing a large dollop of faith. But, it emboldens us to show up more fully in our lives, as we look to the next horizon. While overcoming obstacles is not comfortable, it is immensely satisfying.
Perhaps the sayings would be more accurately rendered as: “God never gives you more than you can grow to handle,” or “You can develop the capacity to move beyond the circumstances you face.” What is the next challenge you intend—or need—to overcome? Dive in, and know that you’ve got this.
Heidi Szycher, PhD
Thank you for subscribing - Feel free to forward this link to your friends!
To subscribe/unsubscribe to Heidi's Newsletter, visit the site's Community Page.