When we feel down, stressed or anxious we naturally fall into a cycle of focusing on our biggest challenges or issues. They can become all consuming and make us feel like we are failing in everything we do. That in turn makes us more depressed, stressed or filled with anxiety and so the cycle continues.
Think about your own issues – the ones which really get to you or hold you back… maybe you are shy or nervous when meeting new people, maybe you find it hard to ask for help and support, maybe the thought of speaking in public terrifies you, maybe panic attacks are paralyzing your chances to move forward in life.
The negatives can seem huge.
BUT… if we step back and analyse our issues we can see a pattern emerge. Not all issues are equal and we can categorise our challenges into three groups
1 – Our Limiting Issues – these are the ones we are acutely aware of which are holding us back or keeping us up at night. They affect our lives badly and stop us doing and achieving everything we can. Each of us will have just a handful of these.
2 – Our Manageable Issues – we all have lots of these. Niggles and annoyances which bubble to the surface and which we would love to improve but they don’t cause chronic problem. Sometimes they disappear as we grow out of them, sometimes they can worsen and sneak into the Limiting category.
3 – Our Strong Suits – these are challenges which we deal with head on, which we excel at sorting out, things which would be major issues for other people but which we deal with easily. Some examples might be being an amazing caring nurse who can be calm when other people are falling apart, being really disciplined when tempted with some sorts of food, being able to dig down and find the energy to finish a task when others have given up, being able to keep the whole family happy on holiday. Just like limiting issues they are completely different for everyone.
We are all much stronger and more capable than we think. How about having a look at your own issues and plotting them on a “Bother Chart”. If you do you will get something like this and if you do it every six months or so you will see how things which were Limiting Issues at one time become less of a focus at another:
If you are really honest and fair with yourself your chart will reveal a couple of things.
- You are dealing with lots of things really really well. Celebrate and praise yourself for each of those things. Be your own cheerleader and pat yourself on the back for each and every item you have in categories two and three.
- Those issues in category 1, the limiting issues have a root cause, something which is hidden or you cannot remember, a belief you have picked up and reinforced somewhere along the way. BUT, that root cause usually creates both positive and negative results so your strong suits in category three come from the same source as those limiting beliefs. Someone feeling unloved and unworthy in their limiting issues can be an amazing carer in their strong suits. A woman who keeps finding herself in relationships with weak dependent men may also be one of the most financially independent women you can meet. A woman filled with self-loathing and secretly eating may also be the strongest, most amazing mum any child could want.
So celebrate your challenges, every one of them. Some have already made you stronger, some are exercising you will and resilience every day and those really tough limiting issues can be overcome and in the process will make you stronger still.