These days I heard a few friends and students said, “Yes, I want to see how I deal with my challenges with all the new skills I learned, I hope I can be as calm as possible when I deal with the next obstacle.”
I guess many of us tend to focus on the result: how to make it successful, calm, peace, loving…
Knowing what result you want is good, it gives you a sense of direction, but many of us let this result-oriented attitude take over…
The question I have for you is: How do you know for sure you can achieve the result you want? How much control do you actually have over this desired results? Look at your past as a reference, how often did you have the control over the results? And how often and likely did “unexpected things” happen?
We have very little control over our thoughts, over our health, the quality of our sleep, the indigestion of our stomach, our aging process etc. If we could not even control our own body, how much control do we actually have over external events?
So if we set our focus on the result, in which we have very little control over, how likely are we going to succeed?
If we want to success, wouldn’t it make more sense to actually focus on something we have control over? And If that’s not results, then what would that be?
Every obstacle comes with a valuable lesson
Obstacles are situations that challenge us, that keep us on our toes, that push us to evolve and rise above the status quo. They are called challenges because they are beyond our comfort zone, they are beyond the known, and often they bring out our inner demons. Growth has never been easy. Think about growing up losing your teeth and replacing with the new, meeting new friends because you had to change school, adopting new environments, going through puberty, starting a new job…
Growth has never been easy. Yet, with every challenging growth, there is always a valuable lesson and an opportunity for growth behind it, once learned, we become freer and more capable. Lessons are not meant to bog us down; they are there to help us evolve, to refine ourselves, to be stronger, and wiser.
As mentioned before, because each obstacle stands in the space of the unknown, it’s never going to be comfortable. And because obstacles are beyond the known, how could we focus on the result if we don’t even know what is it to know about? If we don’t’ know our strategy, we are bound to lose. This leaves us little room for victory and more for sorrow and disappointments.
Focus on what you can control
Many conditions have to come together in order for a situation to flourish, and a lot of these conditions are beyond our control. Say you want to make your marriage work. A happy marriage is a joint effort by two people (your families and other life situations also play a big role); your single effort alone is not sufficient, yet you can only do your part. Doing your part does not guarantee fruitful results but without your effort, your marriage is going to go vain for sure. All of us know this, yet many choose to work hard, but at the same time blaming the spouse for this and that, using the outcome (which is highly biased, always subject to change, by the way) to dictate their happiness, and the result is often not very desirable.
But what if you focus on your lesson, namely, what you need to practice in such a situation to be the person you want to be?
What is your lesson?
First of all, you have to understand what your lesson really is. Every time you feel challenged, be it physical, emotional, or mental, first, give yourself space to calm down (yoga or meditation help). Once you are not so charged by your emotion, ask yourself, “how am I challenged in this situation? What have I not learned (usually what you face is a similar pattern that has been happening in all of your life) or not faced?” Mind you, the real lesson always serves the Highest Good of yourself. If you say, “This is teaching me not to trust people.” Well, if you check with yourself by asking the second question, “Does this choice serve my Highest Good?” So if you stop trusting people from now on, this will isolate yourself from others, causing you a greater degree of loneliness. Obviously, this does not serve you in the long term; it doesn’t serve your Highest Good. Hence, this will NOT be your true lesson.
Your lesson, if you get it right, is always about yourself (not judgment of others), about what you need to let go of, about how you need to love yourself better (for your Highest Good), so you can better love and respect others so you two can live a happier, freer, more harmonious life.
Often times lessons are there to teach you to become more authentic about your feeling, even if it may cause some short-term disharmony. Because in the long run, the truth always set us free.
For over two decades I felt very incompetent in front of native English speakers, especially when I was in Canada or the United States. For as long as I could remember, I did my best to talk to others, but I often found myself speaking with much self-doubt and judgement. There was one time I went to the US for training and I caught the nervousness as I spoke to people. Yes, I speak fluent English but I was very much aware of my accent and my not-so-perfect grammar as I spoke the language. At that moment, I realized for the first time this fear had been with me for over 25yearsr, and I wanted to put an end to it (at this moment I was setting a goal).
Instead of focusing on the result (putting an end to this fear of speaking English), I decided to simply focus on my practice, which was to “say what I need to say, say it nice and clear.” So whenever I had to speak, I simply focus on “saying what I need to say, nicely and clearly.”
Guess what? My fear disappeared, in a matter of one day. 25 years of fear speaking in front of native English speakers was gone in one day! Looking back, what I did in the last 25 years was focusing on the results. It brought me a lot of anxiety, judgements, and disappointments in myself, and it didn’t work. Interestingly, simply by focusing on learning my lesson with all my heart, the fear was gone like a puff of smoke.
Keep focusing on the lesson, practice, practice, practice
The moment we focus on the result, we set ourselves up for value judgement, we start rating ourselves and disempowering ourselves. This doesn’t help anything nor anyone. It only pulls us down.
But if you focus on your lesson and simply keep practicing, every effort is a gain. Yes, you may fail, but you will never regret. I think living an un-regrettable life, with dignity, is more important than anything. At the end of the day, it is our guilt, our regrets that torture us most.
So live your life fully, by focusing on learning your lesson, learning it well, for this is the only thing you have full control over.
With control comes power, confidence, and success will be on your side.