If you were going to run a 26km marathon, would that physical ability just appear? No. You would train for it.
Would you start training the day of the race? No. You wouldn’t. Instead, you would prepare for the challenge. You would train for weeks, months, maybe even a year before the race.
Would you run 26km on the first day of training? No. You wouldn’t. Instead you would gradually increase the distance to increase the challenge.
I find it interesting that this “just makes sense” to us when it comes to successfully conquering physical challenges yet we tend to largely overlook these principles when it comes to successfully conquering mental/emotional challenges.
What is a mental/emotional challenge? It is an event, situation, or circumstance that typically triggers a negative or depleting emotional reaction from you. This is also know as a stressor. It could be of any nature, really: the bedtime routine of your children; the storm clouds on the horizon when you have outside work that needs to be done; the confrontational boss; the inconsiderate family member; the stack of bills; the flat tire; the final exams; the squeaky chair. These are all mental/emotional challenges.
These challenges happen all the time. It’s a guarantee in life.
So how do you make for “success” with these mental/emotional challenges?
The same way you would make for success for a marathon race: training over time and training with gradually increasing challenge levels.
What does this mean?
Let me explain in an example. Let’s say I am a grade school teacher. I have a student in my class that is particularly…difficult. It takes an abundance of patience when I work with him.
Does that abundance of patience just suddenly appear? No. I have to practice and train myself to increase my patience. I will need to train myself before I am faced with the challenge, just like training before a marathon. I will need to practice patience, gradually increasing the challenge level, just like increasing the distance while training for a marathon. This could be choosing to practice patience in a traffic jam, in a checkout line, while on hold on the phone, or with my own children. This way, when I “run the marathon” of teaching my class and this student, I have developed the abundance of patience I need to conquer the challenge.
Every mental/emotional challenge with which you are presented, can be successfully conquered with training.
Actually, every challenge is an invitation for a higher expression of a positive quality or virtue from you. This could be compassion, love, courage, boldness, patience, light-heartedness, persistence, understanding, forgiveness, peace, or gratitude. And when you train to increase this quality and express it, you conquer your mental/emotional challenge.
Because these mental/emotional challenges are guaranteed to happen all the time, there is always an opportunity to practice any and all of these qualities. Your life is like a perpetual marathon.
The question then becomes, will you embrace the challenges, meet them, and grow to conquer them? Will you choose to use the little challenges to prepare and train yourself for bigger challenges that are sure to come your way?
The choice is up to you.
But let me just say that if you choose to use every challenge, no matter the size, as an opportunity to train and grow in your positive qualities/character/virtue, you will begin to experience more freedom, more happiness, more satisfaction, and a greater sense of control in your life than you have ever dreamed.
What do you choose?
As a guide to help you in your training, sign up for The 42 Day Choice Challenge. Every day, you will receive a short video with insight on how you can use everyday stuff as your training ground for the “marathon of life”.
Here’s to conquering stress.
The Stress Experts
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