“Real difficulties can be overcome, it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.” –Theodore N. Vail
I’m going to be bold enough to state that in any given person’s lifetime, (s)he will have 100 times more imaginary difficulties than real ones. What do you think?
If we go through a typical week and imagine all of the difficulties, even the big difficulties, we would realize that much of what we think is a difficulty is actually just a small challenge that is blown out of proportion. What we like to do is create an entire story around this “challenge” so that we can get emotionally involved in it and make ourselves feel justified for being in a bad mood and mistreating people. For example, if your boss makes you stay late at work you might think “Why does she always do that? Does she hate me or something? Why doesn’t she get someone else to do it? I was supposed to go out to dinner for my anniversary tonight!” Then you stay at work late all the while cursing your boss in your mind and stressing yourself out. Sound familiar? Or could you at least see that happening to you?
That’s just one small example, and even if it wouldn’t pertain to you I think you could imagine a scenario where you blew something out of proportion and made a small challenge seem like a big difficulty. The cool thing about coming to grips with this reality is that you now have a choice! You can now see yourself adding an entire story around this challenge, adding your emotions to it and listening to that voice in your head tell you how unfair it is. In that moment you have a choice to either feed into that fallacy, or rise above it and handle that small challenge like the insignificance it truly is.
Here are 5 simple steps to getting out of your (imaginary) difficulties:
1) Realize that it’s all in your head
Well it is! It’s that voice in your head that’s stating its opinions about your performance and abilities, what you “deserve” & “need”, and everything in between. Quiet that voice, thank it for its concern, and move onto something more productive. Truly assess the “difficulty” without adding any emotion, then either handle it like the small challenge that it is, or prepare yourself if it actually is a large difficulty.
2) Have gratitude…for yourself
If you’re in a funk and don’t seem to have that confidence that you usually do, challenges will follow you around like those annoying gnats that hover over your head and won’t go away. Chances are you’re not acknowledging yourself for all of the work that you’ve put in and all of the abilities you’ve earned. Instead of having the attitude of “c’mon, I’ve worked and worked on this, what’s wrong with me?!”, try out a more productive approach like, “wow, I’ve done so much work and put so much time into this, that’s really impressive. I know I have everything I need to be successful, I’m going to be great!” Sometimes all it takes is that simple switch of attitude.
3) Compliment others
This works for me all the time. For example, when I’m missing all of my shots in a basketball game I get so heated (pissed off)! That anger is REALLY amplified when the guy I’m guarding is making all of HIS shots! But something magical happens when I let that go and genuinely congratulate my opponent on making his shots. The pressure goes away and I can see again, and it no longer seems like a big difficulty, just a small challenge that can be easily fixed. The point with this step is to stop making everything about YOU, and get a bit more grounded in reality.
Every time you practice, not only do you build on your skillsets, but you also further solidify your confidence in that area. My highschool basketball coach had a saying that has stuck with me over the years: “practice doesn’t make perfect…perfect practice makes perfect.” So if you’re going to take the time to practice, do it right, and with everything you’ve got. Confidence supersedes almost any challenge. You’ll be amazed at how many of those “difficulties” seem to disappear the more you practice.
5) Let go of past mistakes
Holding onto past mistakes is one of the (if not THE) main contributors to your lack of confidence and overwhelming amount of challenges on a daily basis. They do not define you, so don’t allow them to. Think about them, learn from them, then let them go to rest. When you carry them along with you, all you do is set yourself up to repeat that mistake. Then guess what…you get all bummed again and mistreat yourself, continuing the downward cycle. Instead, think deeply about that mistake, take in any lesson you can get from it, then let it go.
Have you had success with getting out of your head and treating these small challenges as what they truly are…rather than blowing them out of proportion? Let us know in the comments below – who knows, you might actually help another reader!