We all have hills to climb. Those obstacles we neither asked for, nor desired. But they are present and we must engage them on a daily basis. These obstacles generally leave us asking the question “What now?” We have major and minor obstacles we deal with throughout our lives. The minor obstacles are usually daily. The alarm not going off, getting stuck in traffic, missing a deadline at work, or forgetting an appointment. Even though they are minor they can still be frustrating, but usually only temporarily. Then there are the major obstacles in life; the call from the doctor, the broken relationship, the unexpected death, or the pain which will not go away. These are overwhelmingly frustrating since we do not know how to deal with them. We do not know when, or if, they will go away, and our expected pathway in life has suddenly taken an unexpected turn. It is at this point we have to make a major decision in our lives. When we are faced with obstacles we have no control over, then we have to decide how we are going to respond.
This has probably been the most difficult decision I have had to make in my life. But it also was not just one decision. It is a daily decision I make every morning when I get out of bed as to how I will face the day. I battle my pain every day and no longer have memories of living a life without pain. I cannot sit idly by and wait for some miracle to happen, I need to be the miracle I want to see. Throughout this process I have had several milestone moments where I had to decide how I would live my life or respond to my pain. But it requires me to press down hard every morning and realize I do have an awesome life and can make a difference for others when I get out of bed. This is why there are 5 very important reasons we need to engage our obstacles on a daily basis.
1. Control Our Obstacle
You need to control your obstacles instead of letting them control you. If you do not engage your obstacles head on then you will be living a life where you let your pain control your lives. You will be at the mercy of your pain to decide how you feel, what you do, or how you act. This pathway will lead to anger, frustration, and depression because the path will never lead to where you want to go.
But if you control your obstacles then you get to decide how you live your life. You build your obstacle into your life plan and daily routine in order to eliminate the guilt and frustration which may come with living in pain. You live a life on your terms. Even though you do not get to decide how you may feel on any given day, you do get to decide how you respond to your pain and others throughout the day.
2. Find Your Purpose
The next reason you need to engage your obstacle is that it may lead you to your purpose. This may sound strange, but hear me out. One of the greatest issues of living in pain is feeling worthless. Common tasks which most people do not even think about are insurmountable to you. Simple tasks like cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, going for a walk, or shopping groceries can leave you exhausted, in pain, and irritable.
With these tasks becoming increasingly more difficult it is easy to become defeated, to feel worthless, and think you have no purpose. But by engaging your obstacle you are facing the fact you do not have any control over this issue, but you can control you responses. By engaging your obstacle you are taking a realistic view of your life. In this process you just might find your purpose. Most likely it will look nothing like what you thought your life would become, but it may be far greater than you ever imagined.
I never liked to talk about my pain, never thought I would write about pain, and really had no desire to talk to others about pain. But it was only through the process of accepting my life and pain for what it was and the fact my pain would really never go away, was I able to find a purpose in my pain. It was through engaging my obstacle head on was I able to see how I could help and encourage others in their pain and hopefully offer them a light on a very dark path. Never underestimate your own purpose in the midst of the pain you are fighting.
3. Start Your Day Right
You also need to engage your obstacle because in the process you will start your day off right. Let’s face it, sometimes the worst part of the day is simply attempting to get out of bed. I cannot even count the number of mornings I have laid in bed knowing this is the best I will feel all day. I know the moment I get out of bed the pain will get worse and I will have to deal with it the rest of the day. Certainly not great motivation to get out of bed.
But if I engage my obstacle, if I have found my purpose, then the pain is simply secondary. It it not a focus of “I don’t want to get out of bed because of the pain”, I have changed my thoughts to “I need to get up because I have a purpose and reason to make a difference.” This may seem simplistic but life will become increasingly challenging if your focus is always on what you cannot do on any given day instead of what you can do. Change your focus so you can start your day off right and in the process begin living an extraordinary life regardless of your limitation.
4. Find Your Habitat
Engaging your obstacle also helps you find your habitat. One of the larger issues of dealing with pain is no longer being able to do the things you once could. Or no longer being able to engage in a career you have worked at for years. If you live with a limitation you can longer live like everyone else. The longer you attempt to live like others the longer you will live with frustration.
When you engage your obstacle and your purpose begins to appear, then you can begin to discover the environment you should be living. This may be in the same career, may be a different venture all together, maybe a different way you address relationships or look at others. But what you are doing is creating a habitat which works for you. A place where you are comfortable and can work, live, and play all on your terms. Finding your own habitat eliminates the guilt, frustration, and sometimes borderline depression because you have purpose and are living a life on your terms.
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to live a life on your terms and live in your own habitat. This is the upside-down life and it can dramatically transform how you see and live life.
5. Increase Your Productivity If you have been able to engage your limitation properly, find your purpose, and live a life in your own habitat, then you will be able to increase productivity in your life. One of the greatest frustrations in my life was not being able to live up to other people’s standards because of the lack of energy due to my pain. In attempting to live life like everyone else I was not very productive because I was trying to work and produce on a scale which I was incapable.
By moving to my own habitat and living life on my terms I discovered how I worked best. I found a schedule which worked for me and I incorporated my limitation into my daily plans. By taking these two steps I found I was more productive on days I felt better and on days I did not feel good. I no longer felt guilty or frustrated when I could not create. This was life on my terms and I no longer had to make excuses for not keeping up with the pack.
One of the greatest battles I faced is feeling worthwhile and feeling productive. This is part of the raging inside of me of the Raging Sloth, I wanted to feel like I was doing something useful and making a difference. But this was difficult at best when I was at the hands of someone else’s scheduling or meeting. When I engaged my obstacles and chose to turn my life upside-down it dramatically transformed how I saw and lived my life. My life does have purpose and I can still make a difference regardless of how I feel on any given day. You also have purpose, meaning, and can make a difference in this world. But it will start by engaging your obstacle and owning it so it does not own you. This is the first step in living your life upside-down to become a Raging Sloth.