Do you struggle with one step forward, two steps back in your get-healthy efforts? Do you hate to say no, when you want to say yes, even though saying no will help you get what you most want?
Do you more often than not choose anything and everything that will make “it” easier, rather than deal with the confrontation change requires?
I remember a few years back when reading Sharon Salzberg’s highly acclaimed book, “Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation.” I paused when she guided me and her other readers to take “mental note” of the emotions that show up when we set out to meditate. She said,
“You may notice yourself resisting these difficult emotions and the bodily sensations that accompany them—pushing them away and feeling ashamed of them. Or perhaps you find yourself getting pulled into them—replaying an argument, or reliving feelings of rage, helplessness, or humiliation.”
Salzberg, with my Dad and others, taught me about the “fleetingness” of emotions — That they come, and they go, like clouds floating by in the sky… But it’s how we respond that’s meaningful, for our health and wellbeing, and for every other goal we hope to achieve in life.
I spoke to a former client recently, a client that totally dominated his 6-month coaching program with me. He scheduled a call to “reboot” his commitment to the many results he gained. Because, though he achieved every health and life goal he wanted in our work together, he said, “Carol, no one I know eats healthy; This makes it really hard for me to stick with all that I learned!”
Three Questions and One Quote:
I asked my former client to consider three questions,
- Did you stick with taking consistent action every day, after your program ended?
- Did you stick with your morning ritual, to help you stay focused on what you most want?
- What did falling off the plan teach you? Help you see?
And I reminded him of a favorite quote,
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” —Aristotle
Beyond Struggle, Beyond Fleeting Emotions
Did you see the 1996 Olympics, or ever hear of Olympic gold-winner Kerri Strug and how she unwittingly became a national hero at that event?
Kerri Strug was a member of “The Magnificent Seven,” the victorious all-around women’s gymnastics team that represented the United States at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. When performing her first Vault, Strug under-rotated her landing and badly damaged her ankle. But despite her injury, Strug completed her final Vault, landed on both feet, if even for just a moment, to help the USA Women’s gymnastic team win all-round gold!
It was a breathtaking site to behold, to watch 19-year young Strug run down the mat for her second Vault, in spite of her injury. It was an emotional site to behold, to watch her lift her arms in victory, while she raised her injured foot in pain. It was a fierceness of mental mastery and conviction to witness, because of the struggle of the moments.
Trust Your Struggle
When my former client paused to consider my questions, my heart reached out to assure him that I SO understood, and… That “one step forward and two steps back” is the way. That “inch by inch, results are a cinch.” That, I too remember the many times I felt like “odd girl out,” and ended up caving to the spoken, and often unspoken pressure to “stick with the tribe,” and “just shut up and eat the pizza already!” Those times that were equally mixed with relief to just “go with the flow” and the freedom to just let go of my own struggle with, “Why does healthy have to be so hard?”
But when we pause, for even just a few minutes, on the mental mastery 19-year young Kerri Strug beamed for all the world to see at the 1996 Olympics, every opportunity that comes to us, including the times that feel challenging and utterly impossible, becomes an opportunity to choose what we most want again.
And when we pause, for even just a few more minutes, on the wise insight Sharon Salzberg offers in her book, “Real Happiness,” that thoughts are just thoughts, and emotions are just emotions, that they both come, and they both go, and both are only laden with the meaning we give them, we learn how every moment becomes our teacher. We can choose struggle as a lesson on “it’s hard,” and we can choose struggle as a lesson on, ‘we know what we want, by what we know we don’t want.’
Every so-called struggle, becomes our best teacher. Every so-called adversity, becomes our best friend. Every so-called struggle becomes an opportunity to open to the lessons of the experience and choose again.
From this perspective, struggle doesn’t feel like struggle. Rather, it feels like a learning opportunity to stalk.
Trust your struggle. Be thankful for your struggle. Without it, I’ve learned, we would would never discover our strengths.
What Could Be Possible?
What could be possible if you could let go of “it’s hard?’ What would would be different for you, if you trusted your struggle? More results? More fun? More ease, more joy, more energy?
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