Getting nervous or depressed when faced with an unforeseen event or a problem is quite common in a world where technology satisfies so many desires instantly. But difficulties are an opportunity to push our limits and discover our true worth.
Towards the end of his life, Sigmund Freud stated “I have been a lucky man, because nothing was easy for me.” By this he meant the many obstacles he had to overcome as a pioneer of psychoanalysis in a very conservative society, in addition to the danger of being a Jew in the height of Nazism.
Difficulties are a touchstone to prove ourselves and reinvent our reality. An existence without challenges or ups and downs is comfortable in the short term, but it tends to lead to apathy and a lack of objectives, since the human being only values and learns from what it costs him.
HOW TO OVERCOME OBSTACLES IN LIFE
It is not on the flat road where the lesson is usually, but on the slopes and slopes of life. In today’s uncertain and tentative times, this article is an invitation to love obstacles.
Zen, which seeks to temper the body and mind, does not see difficulty as something to be avoided but as a training ground for the soul. Everything that costs us being more assertive, disengaging from work, not seeking the approval of others demands our attention and practice and is, therefore, the path that can bring us the most fruit if we enter it.
Considering problems as the spice of life, what makes our passage through the world interesting, may seem absurd, but literature and cinema show that this is so. How many major movies or novels are there without a conflict at their center? Why aren’t we interested in what works and flows smoothly?
Let’s think of classics like The Count of Montecristo or Casablanca. They base their plot on obstacles that appear in the lives of their protagonists and force them to go beyond their own limits. As viewers, we get excited by each danger scene and enjoy seeing what seemed impossible ends up being solved.
WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE TO A DIFFICULTY?
If difficulties are at the heart of life, why do they sometimes cause us fear and discouragement? The attitude towards obstacles changes from one person to another, and even in oneself according to the vital moment through which they are going through. When a “Setback” with capital letters appears in our path, the usual thing is to respond in three ways:
- We feel overwhelmed, lacking strength or resources to face what is happening, which leads us to immobility. At the most we regret, blaming others or bad luck for our misfortune. This victimizing attitude does not solve the situation and magnifies the problem.
- We accept the obstacle but without getting involved in overcoming it. Expressions like “what are we going to do to him” or “life is like this” certify an apathetic and passive attitude. The person who takes this option is limited to waiting for the downpour to subside to resume his life at the same point where he left it, which is impossible, since everything changes.
- It is the attitude of those who see the obstacle as an opportunity to do things differently and learn something new about themselves. Elite athletes, explorers, scientists or artists take difficulty as an extra motivation to improve themselves, although anyone can take this rebellious and creative approach.
Within this third category, there are people with a special capacity to draw strength from weakness and turn their situation around, however desperate it may be. They are inveterate optimists or characters that grow up with difficulties, that encourage them to do their best.
RESILIENCE: THE POWER TO OVERCOME SETBACKS
When we face a personal catastrophe, we speak of resilience, which is the ability to overcome the great setbacks of existence.
Two referents of modern psychology, Viktor Frankl and Boris Cyrulnik, overcame the same drama: both survived concentration camps in which they lost their loved ones and, instead of anchoring themselves to bitterness, they responded with two formidable proposals. The first gave birth to logotherapy and the second established the foundations of resilience in his works.
It would be frivolous to say that these men loved the harsh tests to which they were subjected, but they did know how to find a use for suffering, since their activity was aimed at alleviating the pain of others through enthusiasm and the search for the meaning of life.
ADVERSITY IS A SCHOOL
Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” With this reflection, the English president pointed to the changing nature of things. Life is a lot like a roller coaster and, when we hit rock bottom, it is then to go back up.
Neither pain is permanent nor happiness lasts forever. This feeling of provisionally helps to face the obstacles, especially when we understand our vital script as something dynamic and open to plot twists of which we are the authors.
A peak moment in any process of personal maturation is when we broaden our perspective and see the changing situations of life not in terms of limitations, but of wealth. In this spirit, we stop feeling victims of adversity as we integrate ourselves into a broader horizon.
YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK
Any obstacle, once overcome, is equivalent to climbing a step from which we have a more generous view of the world and a greater knowledge of ourselves.
When we are faced with a work problem, an illness or even a separation, the pain we feel in the face of a world that is cracking is accompanied by the instinct of the castaway trying to swim to shore.
The main lesson of the school of adversity is that we are stronger than we thought. Obstacles force us to mobilize resources that we were not aware of having, so we get to do things that just before seemed impossible.
With the right attitude, going through difficult situations can end up becoming a privilege. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said in his book Night Flight “Also misfortunes are part of our belongings.”
ENEMIES AND TEACHERS
Sometimes adversity does not come from the economic crisis or a health problem, but through a specific person who seems to oppose our wishes, like a particularly gifted and tenacious chess opponent . The question is how we react.
According to Maxwell Maltz, author of Psycho Cybernetics (Ed. Open Project), a manual that revolutionized personal growth in the 1960s, “we are made to conquer our environment, solve problems and achieve goals, so we will never be satisfied with unless life presents us with obstacles to overcome. ”
In the field of personal relationships, this challenge can take many different forms, for example:
- A difficult moment for the couple, when friction makes living together a daily battlefield.
- The irrational demands of a boss or the inability of coworkers that hinder the day.
- Neighbors who seem to want to steal our calm, either because of the noise they make or, at the other extreme, because of their susceptibility to any of our movements.
Faced with these situations that put our nerves on the ropes, the Dalai Lama assures that we should react with gratitude, since whoever behaves like our enemy is in some way our best teacher: “By being with a teacher, we can learn the importance of patience, control and tolerance, but we have no real opportunity to practice it. Real practice comes from meeting an enemy.
THE REAL STUMBLING BLOCK IS INSIDE
So far, we have explored the difficulties as if they were external agents. However, many times the problem is not caused by a friend who intrudes into our life or the cryptic instructions of an Ikea furniture, but by yourself. As Muhammad Ali said “Often it is not the mountains before you that wear you out, but the pebble in your shoe.
It is easy to blame others or the state of the world, but the great challenge of maturity is to detect and get rid of that pebble that damages our feet and prevents us from walking with joy and lightness. These are self- boycotting behaviors that we often overlook, such as:
- An irascible or hypersensitive temperament that causes us to conflict over and over again.
- The habit of procrastinating, that is, postponing what we should do today or drawing negative future scenarios so that we don’t have to move.
- The precipitation for fast results in any pareja field, work, investment.
Knowing ourselves better helps to free ourselves from these or other behaviors that reduce our vital possibilities. This requires willingness and sometimes it could even be useful to carry out some type of therapy.
But being aware of our internal obstacles is the first step of the solution and perhaps also of the adventure of growing as people. It is an arduous task, because habits stagnant by years of repetition are difficult to suppress, but at the same time exciting and full of rewards.
To complete it, we must love obstacles and trust our strengths. As a Jewish proverb says, “I do not ask for a lighter load, but a wider back.”