“Success is not final, failure is not final: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
I recently went on a long over due vacation, nothing tropical this time, but nonetheless fun, a bit adventurous and relaxing. On the days leading up to my glorious day of departure from what I know as my normal life, the days became longer and more arduous. I’m not sure if it was the long gap between my last getaway, which was actually a business trip to Puerto Rico ( I know there’s no sympathy here) or just feeling very drained and ret-to-go. I remember my last day of work I set my alarm clock extra early so I could get things done in the office and leave at decent time. However, once my alarm struck at 4:50am, I couldn’t do it, better yet, I didn’t want to do it. I lied in bed thinking to myself, its my last day, I should stay home, add an extra day to my well deserved break. But I knew that I had things to get done and my staff was counting on me to deliver. So I literally pressed myself out of the bed with some disdain, well honestly with a lot of disdain, however I realized it was the right thing to do, but when I say “press myself”, that is exactly what I had to do.
In that moment of literally thrusting myself out of the bed, the idea of pressing through difficulty came to my mind. We all face adversity and have hopefully developed our own way of working through it, but I wasn’t reflecting on methodology this time. More importantly I was reflecting on the many thoughts that run through our brains during these types of moments. The thoughts that end up looking like excuses if we’re honest with ourselves, albeit really really good excuses. I’m guilty of it, you’re guilty of it, heck we all do it. The most important aspect is what do we do with it? Meaning specifically, how do we respond more often than not? Are you in the group that gets it done, or do you roll over and press the figurative/literal snooze button over and over again? I have to admit, I do both at times depending on the circumstances, probably like most people, but I’m striving to do better.
This is more than simply being a chronic procrastinator, which according to research done by APS Fellow Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University says that more than 20% of people are. It’s about the why. The ideas that can fill our heads during duress, that cause us to become paralyzed like little kids afraid of the boogeyman in our closets or under our beds. Like facing anything we want to conquer, we have to hit it head-on, so let’s do try to do that. After all, the standard practices of avoidance only leads to more duress, which defines that old adage of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different outcome. It simply will not happen.
So what are the most common things that fill our heads when facing some form of adversity? I picked a few below that I deal with or have dealt over my lifetime.
1. I typically over think the situation – This is a big one for me. I can play a song or view an entire movie in my head about an anticipated outcome before anything ever happens. I will determine what will be said (by all involved parties) and how it will play out without ever saying a word to anyone. This typically leads to my avoidance when I think the outcome will become confrontational, or I take an immediate defensive stance, which usually fails to give the other person a fair chance to authentically communicate with me.
Suggestions for a better outcome – Before your brain has an opportunity to dictate the outcome, approach the person(s) involved. The key is to not allow it to fester for days or weeks. The longer we wait the bigger and harder the situation becomes for us. Another key point to remember is all confrontation doesn’t have to bad confrontation. In most cases my relationships became stronger after engaging in the hard discussion because most of the ideas floating in my head were allusions versus what I believed to be true.
2. I become overwhelmed with fear of the outcome – I know that we are not supposed to be moved by fear, but sometimes it’s just what it is. This will indeed stop you in your tracks, and affect your emotional, spiritual and physical life in a big way. Our thoughts are consumed with what ifs, doubt and anxiety. We lose sleep, peace of mind and simply don’t think straight. During this time, not only are our thoughts about the issue all over the place, they are usually based on the worse possible outcome. Now in some cases these thoughts are substantiated with facts, so if that is you, respond appropriately, whether discussing it with the authorities, a trusted and wise friend or competent counselors.
Suggestions for a better outcome – If your situation is not that severe than perhaps you start with writing a letter to test the temperature of the other person involved. If they’re irresponsive, there’s not much else you can do, but writing a letter or journaling about it gives us an opportunity to purge and release pent-up thoughts. Any real relationship requires both parties to be vested. If they do reply, set a date to talk and establish some ground rules for the discussion. Don’t expect the situation to be resolved in one setting or two, and if necessary, get a third neutral party to be there in silence as support and helping you both maintain the agreed upon guidelines. Commit to the process and be realistic, truthful, prayerful and hopeful for healing for all involved.
3. It’s just easier to avoid people and the situation – Who cannot relate to this one? There have been many of days where I have simply shoved my issues under the rug. I’ve avoided them for years, decades even. Interesting thing is they still never go away. It’s like they’re in the same state I left them in, years prior. Funny how that works, but what is not so funny is how much time has went by and I still have this pressing issue that I have effectively avoided, but unsuccessfully resolved. I choose not to live my life this way any longer. I honestly believe it has a lot to do with my age. At almost fifty, I suddenly feel grown and like, really what are you going to do to me now? I make my own money, have my own home and have no real physical needs from anyone, so why keep avoiding? So I don’t. I face people and the BS if that’s what it is. I realize that avoidance is a waste of my time, because some day I will need to return to the situation when I could have dealt with it in the present versus the later future.
Suggestions for a better outcome – Recognize that making the choice to walk away from someone or a situation is not the same as avoidance, as long as you have put real closure to it. Meaning a conversation of some sort that brings clarity (not necessarily mutual agreement). Since at the end of the day all that really matters is our relationships and how we treat people, make it a priority to keep them intact (even if separate), respectful and with dignity. This means you cannot always expect to win or be right when it comes to a resolution. Be willing to own it if you are at fault. It’s not about being wrong or pointing fingers, but more importantly the big picture. Keep that in your perspective and have an idea of what that should look like so you absolutely know when you get there. Get help with that if its cloudy and then you will have a goal to press towards, then you will be facing the situation with an expected outcome versus avoiding it, no matter what that outcome will be.
So as I conclude each of my post with,”Keep Pressing”, maybe now it makes more sense why I do. Life at times is challenging, but sometimes we make things much harder with our responses or non-responsiveness. Let’s strive to do better in this area. Go ahead and hit that snooze button a few times, but make the point to get up and face your life in its present condition, because although sleeping in always feels better in the moment, it also may be causing you to miss out on some of the most important times in your life.