Saturday, March 15, 2014

Embracing Your Obstacles

There will always be people in life who envy you, who resent your success, who are threatened by your accomplishments, who do what they can to sabotage your efforts.

Those include people in a workplace who place politics and "optics" over productivity and innovation.  Those also include naysayers who don't dare admit the possibility of achievement because that would undermine their excuses, their failure to make a difference.

You know who your friends are when you reach a breakthrough success.  Your friends are ready to celebrate with you: they share your joy.  Those who cannot celebrate with you?  Perhaps they're struggling with their own demons.  Perhaps they are burned out and exhausted.  That doesn't necessarily make them horrible people.  They just can't be your friends.

It's natural to feel anger and resentment toward those who stand in your way and seek to undermine your success.  I've seen people consumed by hate, plotting revenge and wishing nothing but harm on those who have hurt them.  Sadly, they fall prey to the very negativity they resent in others.

But you can use liars, naysayers, and mediocrities to make you stronger.  Here's a simple exercise:

When you find yourself in a negative mindset, talking to yourself in frustrated, angry, and discouraged ways, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and visualize the person who has been most destructive toward you--the person you most resent.  Vividly imagine his or her face and imagine that he or she is saying to you the very negative things that you're saying to yourself.  Feel what it's like to have that other person berating you, putting you down, telling you that you can't succeed, that you're a loser, that you're no good.

Suddenly you feel angry.  You don't want to hear that kind of message from anyone--and certainly not from the person you most resent!  With your eyes still closed and that image still vivid, imagine telling that other person off, standing up for yourself, and putting things in a much more constructive light.  Now you're angry at the negativity, not at yourself.  You're refusing to talk to yourself the way an enemy would speak to you.

Holding anger and resentment can indeed be a poison.  Channeling it toward the patterns we want to change distances us from those patterns and frees us from them.  We won't want to own a pattern that we associate with someone destructive.  Very often, the first step in a change process is becoming so disgusted and angry with our old ways of doing things that we're propelled into new ways.  

Those who have wronged you can make you stronger.  In vowing to never be like them, you set a positive course for yourself and free yourself from bitterness--secure in the knowledge that living well is the best revenge.

Obstacles are like weights in a gym:  when lifted, they make us stronger.

Further Reading:  Using Emotion to Change Emotion