I’m convinced of very few things, as I’ve found that the weight of blind convictions is often too heavy to carry around on our backs – a burdensome set of expectations and assumed perceptions. As such, when I do feel so inclined to truly believe in something (as in, subscribing to a mental programming in line with that belief) I hold that belief to a pretty high standard. With that said, I’ve been ruminating on a topic lately (a belief) that begs a respectable amount of attention, due to its highly influential impact on my psyche.
With the intention of providing some thematic staging, I’d like to ignite a conversation about challenges. I hesitate a bit in mentioning the word ‘challenge.’ Not because it’s a strange word in and of itself – but rather, because the word ‘challenge’ has such a variety of subtle inferential definitions around it, that it’s unclear if it’s a good or bad thing to be ‘challenged.’ With language, we so often understand words in direct correlation to our own realities and subjective experiences. With that said, it’s important to be clear about what we mean when we speak and write.
In this case, I’m defining challenge as the presentation of an event or situation that causes an individual (or many) to summon all of his or her (or their) strength in order to rise to the occasion; to succeed in passing a test, that either he or she (or they) or somebody else has set in motion.
I’ve been consciously challenging myself a lot lately – putting myself in situations that require me to focus all of my energy on devising a solution – pushing myself beyond my preconceptions of what I’m capable of. Whether it be physical, mental, or otherwise–the end result is consistent: I’ve put myself to a test, I’ve passed, and I’m filled with a sense of satisfaction that is indeterminably difficult to put into words because it feels so good, so right. This challenge-ignition-satisfaction cycle is unlike anything I’ve experienced in the past. Sure, I’ve embarked upon many activities that have forced me to engage with high levels of focus and determination. But this – this recent burst of self-efficacy – it’s unmatched by my prior experiences. And this, leads me to believe: the more we challenge ourselves, the greater our ability becomes to be challenged. And I think that’s fucking rad.
I’ll give you an example. I’ve long been afraid of heights – the idea of being high up in the air, vulnerable to gravity and the bone-shattering ground below. Well…I started rock climbing in the last couple of months, and I’ve been staring my fears directly in the eyes. And you know what? That fear is diminishing each and every time. In challenging myself to face those fears–to climb the steep wall despite my automatic and innate hesitation (and to trust in myself, my belayer, the equipment)–I’ve become a stronger person, and I’m coming to better understand what it means to be alive. With this knowledge, all areas of my life seem to have become noticeably more enjoyable. Without fear standing in the way, the experience of love has re-emerged as the dominant reality filter.
My suggestion? Challenge yourself on a daily basis, even if it’s by doing (or thinking) something relatively small. In forcing yourself to break barriers and destroy limitations you’ve subscribed yourself to, you’ll likely be surprised at how easy it becomes to keep doing it…over and over and over again.