I started a 30 Day Journal Challenge (insert adorable little bitmoji with eyes rolling). I never should've have ventured into these waters with the attitude that I brought with me (as evidenced by the eyes rolling). From Day One I fought it. I didn’t like the prompts; they were too corny, too forced, too psycho-babbley. I didn’t like the seemingly threatening emails that were in my mailbox every morning guilting me into dropping everything in order to write. (Ya, that was all me with the guilting thing). The notion of sitting down to journal hung over my head all day until finally I would just sit down and hastily complete the task at hand. Fine. I’ll just do it!
That is really not the right way to approach a 30 Day Journal Challenge. I seem to have an unhealthy, if not dysfunctional problem with challenges. So, if anything, this whole thing got me thinking about THAT. Thinking about challenges in general. Here’s what I learned.
Challenges come with different…shall I say, challenges? For the most part, people think of challenges as something to strengthen your character. They're something to face, and then subsequently overcome, thus generally making you a better person; the elusive diploma, the much deserved job promotion, the completed marathon, the clean and sober slate. More often than not, challenges are an opportunity to grow, or evolve. They can open up your soul so completely that the only thing left is to drop to your knees in awe and gratitude. Challenges such as these are amazing…Unless they aren’t.
The double-edged sword with challenges, at least for me, is when they take the tone of a dare or provocation. And all too often, I let that happen. I blame DNA. Ok, no - there is no blame here, just awareness. (Spoken like a true yogi). I am aware that I seem to have a deep seated compulsion toward competitiveness. It served me well as an athlete. The drive and commitment resulted in success on the court, but all too often it could turn ugly. Just ask my tennis friend who accused me of “opening up a can of whoop-ass” on her one day to the point of moral exhaustion and defeat. Eventually, I relinquished competitive sports in the name of sanity ( and friendship). It initially started as a need to recover from injury, but eventually I fessed up to the fact that a competitive spirit was just not serving me well anymore. The challenge to defeat someone had superseded the challenge to simply play.
So, back to this journaling challenge, and the ugly turn it took. After the first day I felt the competitiveness rising in me as I felt challenged to not back down…to not fail. Then I got angry and accusatory. That same feeling of when a terrible call is made by a ref, or an opponent on the tennis court calls a ball out that was so obviously (in my opinion) in. This was not a good feeling to have when simply playing along with a well-intentioned challenge. I sat back. I took a deep breath. I recognized it. And then I breathed some more. A lot more. And I thanked whatever it was, whoever it was , or however it was that I landed on this journey of awareness that might still be eluding me if it hadn't been for a silly little yoga class at the J…and some pretty awesome DNA.
As the season of challenges approaches with the start of a new year, and all kinds of recommendations for how to improve your life start glaring at you with no mercy, stay mindful. If a challenge is calling to you, approach with awareness. What is your true desired outcome? What pitfalls lie ahead, and how will you handle them? If you tend toward the “I will take you down” attitude, can you change it to the “I will rise up” one? Whatever the outcome, trust the process. And always…ALWAYS…breathe.
Trust the Process