While I was on my morning walk a few weeks ago, I noticed that the way the sun was shining on the weeds beside the sidewalk cast a beautiful shadow. Each one was a little different, but they looked like beautiful tropical plants. For some reason, my mind immediately went to a conversation I had with a client just the day before, where I was encouraging him to back up and look at life a little less personally. My hope was that he would see that all the stuff that we go through that feels so overwhelming and like it’s too much to handle, is just the weeds we have to uproot in order to see the beauty of the garden. But, like the shadows I was looking at, even the weeds can be beautiful, depending on our perspective.
Some time ago, I wrote a blog about things only being difficult if we believe they are. Here’s the gist of it:
I can’t count the number of times clients have said – “but it’s so hard. . .” I don’t usually confront them at that moment, because it’s taken a lot for them to get to the place where they finally at least recognize what they might need to do to make a change. That process might take some time (most things that are really worthwhile do). But what I’ve learned is that it’s only hard if I allow it to be.
For example, I’m one of those crazy people who loves to work out. When I can, I walk around the neighborhood lake. It’s a slightly hilly terrain, but I walk on a sidewalk, so it’s a pretty smooth path.
One day, several years ago, I met another woman walking in the opposite direction. As we smiled and exchanged “good mornings” she said, “I hate having to climb uphill here when I’m going your direction.”
I just smiled and went on. But I was surprised, because I had never even noticed that I was walking uphill. Suddenly, I noticed that indeed, I was climbing up an incline, and yes, it seemed difficult to navigate at that moment!
I have walked that path many times in the years since that encounter, and every time I remember that it’s uphill. It’s amazing how just having your attention brought to something in a different way can make a difference in how you view it.
But, I didn’t let the new-found realization that I’m walking uphill bother me. I have always enjoyed the challenge of walking up an incline and gratefully focus on how good the muscles in my legs feel as they work to move my body. I love the feeling I get after working my body in an intensive workout – it’s a feeling of accomplishment. Besides, once you get to the top of a hill, you’re either walking on a flat surface for a while, or you’re going downhill, which is so much easier – it’s almost exhilarating . . . like that garden you’ve reached after tearing out all those weeds.
So when my clients struggle because things are difficult, I don’t tell them they are being ridiculous. I sit with them in that realization. While we can consciously choose how to look at something, most behavior changes do feel difficult when they’re new – until we’ve practiced for a while. When we put the effort into a practice of some kind, whether it’s learning to feel through something instead of avoiding it, meditation, exercise, prayer or just challenging ourselves to look at a situation from an alternate perspective; that thing we thought was so hard at first becomes less of a pain and more of a joy. Because we’ve accomplished something for which we can take responsibility. It may never become perfect, or completely easy – that’s why we call it a “practice.” But it can be a thing of beauty that we created, and take pride in.
It’s all about perspective – like those weeds. They represent the beautiful process of growth we each experience when we’re ready to move out of our comfort zone.
If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities.
If you believe it won’t, you will see obstacles.
– Wayne Dyer