In search of success and happiness – we sometimes focus on what gets in our way. This can become our greatest obstacle to transition and growth. On True2Soul Radio (Living Fiercely & On Purpose – On the Spectrum: http://bit.ly/2h2IxcG), I chat with Professor of Theology, Author, Founder of Spectrum Inclusion and Advocate: Ron Sandison. He shares how he persevered and thrived, both in his personal and professional life – regardless of what society attempted to impose upon him. Below, I share some more of my thoughts on perseverance and adversity.
I often compare life to a highway. The barriers and partitions of that highway are like our societal issues (E.g. racism, sexism, abelism, socio-economical, etc.) If I want to travel down that highway, most of my attention must be on where I want to go. They can affect my travel only as much as I allow. If I don’t like the direction of the highway, I must choose another. If I focus on these barriers, I’m likely to crash into them. In order to travel forward, it’s imperative that I focus on where I want to go and allow the barriers to remain in my periphery. I have a real life example of this:
Over 20 years ago, I learned to ride a motorcycle, during which time the instructor kept saying “Look where you wanna go!”. One day, while training, I couldn’t help but stare at a fence at the boundary of the property. I was so nervous that I was going to lose control of this massive Harley I was riding and crash into the fence. All I kept thinking was: “I don’t wanna hit it. What if I drop my bike?! I DON’T wanna hit that fence man! I DON’T WANNA HIT THE …” Guess what I hit? Despite where I wanted to go, I focused on the fence – so of course my body and the bike complied.
Long story short, I got out of the situation just fine. Don’t worry – so did the bike 😉 I picked it up (back then picking up your own bike showed that you were worthy of riding it) …and yes, I got my license 😀 Why do I share this story? Two reasons:
LOOK WHERE YOU WANT TO GO: We want to maintain or transition into a happy life. We don’t always know where that is or what it looks like; and that’s what living our life is for – to explore and find out. It sucks to have limits imposed as we embark on this exploration. Limits are not natural. We construct them. We impose them every single day – not just on other people but ourselves as well. We impose the harshest and most stringent boundaries and limits on ourselves. However, if I focus upon and make my entire life about these limits, I can no longer see where I want to go – much less have enough energy to get there. Life will always present challenges. It is how we perceive these challenges that help or hinder us.
PICK UP YOUR OWN BIKE: Only I can determine how I come out of a challenge. Certain people or things can certain contribute to the adversity I experience. However, only I can determine how I respond to it. No one else does that for me. I can receive support in handling adversity, but only I can define what it means to me and how it will help me or hinder me moving forward. Unless it kills me, the challenge itself doesn’t prevent me from living life in this world. It’s how I perceive the challenge, process the challenge, and react to the challenge that determines my future. This perspective is how I retain my power – come hell or high water (as my Mom would say J We can DEFINE and DETERMINE much more for ourselves than we often allow. No one can convince of us of something that we don’t already believe somewhere within us.
I was received a powerful opportunity and reminder of self-determination some years ago. When my son was in Kindergarten, he was called a derogatory name. He came home confused and hurt. My heart broke to see him so hurt at the time. He didn’t know or understand the word, but he realised that the other boy wanted to hurt him with use of the word. I spoke with my son about the “n” word a little bit, but that was not my primary focus.
I spoke to this beautiful child about what I saw, understood and loved about him. I then asked him: “What if the boy called you a ‘table’? What would you do?” He looked at me like I was silly; and he told me: “That doesn’t make sense Mom. I’m not a table.” I concurred. Both of us knew that he was not a table, and therefore being called a “table” was neither here nor there for him. In fact, it’s laughable to be called a table because it is so foolish. I needed for him to understand that it didn’t affect him and was laughable to him because of knowing what and who he is – which is more important and productive than running around trying to prove what he is not.
I wanted him to see himSELF. It was more important to me that my son explored why the word bothered him – than focusing on the word itself. Don’t get me wrong, identifying and understanding the structures of oppression, mechanisms of repression and systems of discrimination are important lessons he has also learned. However, understanding those structures did not (and still does not) supersede identifying and understanding Self – which is so much more significant and valuable.
To this day, this beautiful Being – whom I am blessed to have as a son in my life – reflects back to me constantly. He reminds me that the more clarity I gain with regards to my Self, the fewer limits I perceive. It’s my choice. I can define my life by its expansive potential or by the limitations I perceive within it. How will you define yours?