I know it might sound like a strange question, but what does the word ‘challenge’ mean to you? I realised recently that for me it’s been very tightly associated with an external circumstance (problem/opportunity) in my professional or personal life that I feel I need to address. I believe there is a lot of power in creating a new definition for that word that focuses more on our inner journey, because that can get us out of putting out the fires and getting in the same loop again and again and help us use challenges as true opportunities for growth.
So far I’ve reached this: a challenge is an invitation to widen up my definition of who I am or a core concept (eg. love, relationship, career, pain, friendship). Why widen up? The core job of our normal consciousness, or ego, is to slice concepts down and put them into neat boxes. There come times, however, when an internal or external set of triggers shows us that this filing system is no longer relevant and needs an update, the old box doesn’t make sense anymore.
If you look back at your breakthrough moments, you might find a pattern – that usually a core concept all of a sudden became something wider (together with your sense of who you are). For example, I used to define love as something I experience with my romantic partner, whereas now to me it’s a state of being in which I am fully present, connected and appreciative of this moment and anyone or anything I happen to be sharing it with. It has allowed me to approach my relationships with much less neediness and much more appreciation, which has shifted their nature instead of perpetuating the pattern of “I need love and attention. I go and demand that the person I am with give it to me right now.”
So I came to the conclusion that we can address challenges with asking 2 questions:
1) what is a core definition that is being challenged for me right now?
2) how do I widen my perspective to get out of my familiar pattern?
To answer the second question, I find it useful to work with methods that can get to the subconscious. It can be helpful to read a book and get some fresh ideas, but having them sink in to our behaviour is a totally different story. Which is why I’d recommend those:
1) solitary walks in nature – exposure to external wilderness, out of our urban boxed environment is huge in terms of shifting our patterns and widening perspective. You might not be able to put your finger on how that works, but by the end of the day you are changed and you can FEEL it.
2) shamanic journeys – exposure to inner wilderness, where we get to meet face to face the part of us that creates our dreams and ‘doesn’t make sense’ to our rational minds. I’ve found that for me it loosens up the attachment to my ‘boxing system’ and gives me symbolic guidelines to help me on my journey. Sometimes it takes just 20 minutes of journeying to get out with that new perspective that I needed, fully embodied.
3) coaching – a structured way to shed light on our self-limiting stories and create new ones. There’s many ways to do that effectively and I love applying those on myself and using opportunities to receive such support from others.
So how do you define a challenge? Drop me a line – looking forward to hear your definitions and approaches in addressing them!
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About Lessons in Paradise
I believe we already are in paradise, regardless of where we are and what’s going on in our lives. I believe life is a journey towards becoming aware of this and enjoying as much of it as we can in the limited amount of time we have here. The ‘Lessons in Paradise’ vlog is the space where I share my process of shedding patterns and beliefs that obstruct our view in order to replace them with presence, awe and wonder. It’s also my invitation to you – an invitation to connect and journey together by sharing what we are going through and helping each other see through to the greatest expression of ourselves.