CHALLENGES TO STAYING POSITIVE

Smiling & Frowning Man

Living with Light #3

My last two posts focused on becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings, releasing the negative and focusing on the positive, so that we can discover our true heart’s yearnings, utilizing the Law of Attraction. In this post, I want to talk about something that, although unpleasant, is often part of the journey towards changing our thought patterns and fulfilling our goals.  I hadn’t been planning to write about this particular aspect yet, but my own experiences since my last post appeared have messed with my original outline for this blog! When something like that happens, I assume that it’s for a reason and maybe it’s what I need to write about at this particular time. So here goes:

Over the last several months, I have been formulating a new set of goals that focused on several areas of my life, and keeping watch on my thoughts and feelings so that I could remain positive. No human being can think and feel positive 100% of the time, but if we can raise the percentage to at least 51% positive vs. negative (the higher the % the better), we will see significant changes in our lives. I was very excited about my goals, and was utilizing many of the processes for manifesting them with the Law of Attraction, which I believe is simply a matter of cooperating with the Divine to bring about the best circumstances for our particular life journey.

However, very shortly after my last post, most of the goals I had been carefully considering and planning came under fire and began to look as though they would completely fall apart. I won’t bore you with a lot of personal details, but here in a nutshell is what happened: First, an online friend reacted with negativity and criticism to some of my beliefs, which hurt me and deflated some of my enthusiasm, despite the fact that I knew I shouldn’t let it. Then, a particular event caused my husband to get cold feet again about a relocation goal which had just been starting to get his support. Some of my efforts concerning other goals seemed to meet with indifference and a lack of results (insert cricket chirping sounds here). All in all, my confidence was badly shaken, leaving me feeling adrift, without direction, discouraged about my goals, and finding it difficult to remain positive and hopeful.

Meanwhile, through another set of circumstances, a goal that I had not been focusing on suddenly came to the forefront. Although I did not feel receptive to it at first, I soon found myself becoming excited about that goal again, much to my surprise. So at least this was a positive development. But still, I must admit that all these circumstances threw me for a loop, causing me to rethink my goals, putting some of them on hold, changing my strategy on others, and focusing on some I had not been previously considering.

I know that I am not alone in this experience. I have heard often about this sort of thing happening to other people when they begin to make positive changes in their lives and pursue their dreams. In fact, it has happened to me before regarding goals I have set in the past. Sometimes I did attain those goals eventually, and in other cases those goals were replaced with other, better ones. So, since I have been thinking a lot about this turn of events in my own life, I thought it would be helpful to explore some of the reasons why things like this might happen just when we have set our goals and started to seriously work towards them:

  • Course Correction: Whenever I set goals, I always pray that what I am pursuing is in keeping with the Divine will for my life. It’s never wise to doggedly and blindly pursue goals without seeking guidance, because we often can end up unhappy because some of our goals may not turn out to be what we expected and instead cause trouble and regret. I totally trust that God always leads me in the right direction, provided I keep an open mind and heart. So when setbacks and disappointments rear their heads, I seriously consider whether Divine guidance is correcting my course and showing me that what I am pursuing is not a true goal and is not beneficial to me in the long run. (More about Course Corrections in an upcoming post).
  • Cosmic Shake-Up: Whenever we set a goal, it requires the Universe, guided by the Divine Mind, to put things in motion to bring it about for us. Because of this, it sometimes means that for a while things will be in chaos. But if we stay open and trusting, we will discern whether there is something we need to do differently or better in pursuit of our goals. Sometimes we just need to wait a bit for “the dust to settle,” and we will see our way clear again.
  • Test of our Determination: How committed are we to our goals? Can we stay the course, even when other people tear down our beliefs and aspirations, even when it seems that everything is falling apart, and/or we feel we don’t have what it takes to succeed at our goals? Sometimes setbacks are a way of putting our determination to the test.
  • Test of our Trust and Faith in the Divine: Even though we say that we want to do God’s will, and that we don’t want any goal that is not in our best interest or that of others involved, because we are human, deep-down we are always hoping that God’s will is the same as our own. It’s only natural that when a goal appears to be crumbling, we will feel deeply disappointed, maybe even a little bitter and angry. But it’s important not to immediately give up on all of our goals. We need to continue to put our faith in Divine guidance and do our best to keep an open mind, trusting that if one goal is not meant to be, then something different and better will take its place.
  • Divine Detour: Almost all of our goals do, out of necessity, involve other people and circumstances. Because they have free will, sometimes other people might be disinclined or unable to do their part in what is needed to allow our plans to succeed. It can also be that another person’s involvement or cooperation in our goal would not be in their best interest. This does not always mean that our goals won’t manifest, but it may mean that a detour and/or delay is necessary. Think of it like your GPS recalculating your route when you come across a road that’s closed.

 

Woman-ClosedRoad

  1. Things in Our Life are Out of Balance: Sometimes we can develop tunnel vision about our goals, and in the process ignore or put on the back burner other goals, gifts and areas of our life that are actually important for us to focus on now. I suspect that this is what recently happened to me. I trust that there is a good reason why I have been called upon to resurrect a particular goal that has been dormant in my life for the past couple of years. I have now included this other goal in my plans. I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I’m enjoying including it in my life again, even though at first I was reluctant, even resentful about it.

These are some of the reasons we experience setbacks, even complete chaos and confusion, when we set goals and make the decision to effect positive change in our lives. Although these “roadblocks” are disturbing and discouraging, it’s important to stay determined to remain positive and keep our minds and hearts open to where our path may lead, even if we can’t see very far ahead right now.

I would love to hear some of your own experiences and insights into this problem. So, if you’d like to share, please comment below.

From Setbacks to Success: Finishing the Race – Pt. 1

Marathon with slogan

Part 1 of a 2-Part Series

In 1990, two men collaborated on a collection of inspirational stories. They were sure they had a winner, but in the first month alone thirty-three New York publishers turned them down. “No one buys short stories,” they were told, “and your title stinks!” Even their agent dropped them; yet they refused to give up. But after 140 rejections, they seemed to be up against a brick wall. No one wanted what they had to offer.

At one time or another, we all face obstacles, setbacks, and failures. Whenever we make changes in our life or embark on a new venture, we meet resistance from outside sources and from within ourselves. Friends and family may question our goals, or maybe we are inwardly fearful of what lies ahead. Random events beyond our control can also disrupt our plans. Confidence fails; doubt and discouragement replace our initial feelings of hope and excitement. But obstacles are a natural part of progress. If we realize this from the beginning, we can gain insight into the possible causes, and learn from our experiences. We can find the courage to press on instead of giving up.

Few people experience as many obstacles as did St. Paul. He was shipwrecked, beaten with rods, whipped, stoned, suffered many sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, cold and exposure. On top of that, he experienced constant anxiety about the early churches who looked to him for leadership. In Damascus, the governor guarded the city so Paul could be arrested. He writes, “…but I was lowered in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped…” Now that’s persistence!

Undaunted by the innumerable obstacles he faced, Paul continued writing and encouraging the early Church even from prison. In his second letter to Timothy he wrote, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”

Perception

Events in themselves are not necessarily good or bad. It’s our perception of the situation that labels it, our reaction to it that determines the ultimate effect it will have on our life. “The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty,” said Winston Churchill.

When our plans go awry, the human tendency is to react with fear, despair, or anger. We are angry with ourselves for our perceived failure, with other people for getting in our way, or with God for letting us down. But doors are opening even while we think everything is hopeless; changes are occurring during even the darkest times. We cannot see this, because our earthly perspective is limited to our present circumstances. It’s only in hindsight that we understand how each piece in the puzzle of our lives is essential to the entire picture.

Attitude

The late comedian Flip Wilson had a character named Geraldine, who used to flaunt her charms with the announcement, “What you see is what you get!” Similarly, what we see when we envision our future is often what we get. Lacking self-confidence, doubting God’s care, and obsessing about everything that could go wrong, set us up for failure.

Equally impractical is the blind optimism that stubbornly clings to unreasonable goals and pie-in-the-sky dreams. People with a well-balanced attitude set realistic goals and focus on success, while still leaving the door open to God’s surprises. They’re confident that nothing happens that God cannot use for good. They know they are guided, even when they can’t see the road ahead or feel God’s presence

 “Make Room for Abba”

Set goals and make plans, but leave them open-ended. Remember, God might have an even better idea, so stay open to it! Jesus referred to God  as “Abba,” which translates into “Father.” If we think of God as our loving Father, it stands to reason that He would want only the best for us. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” Jesus asked the crowd during his Sermon on the Mount, “Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” If God is our loving Father, we can trust that He will give us the very best!

“If you are discouraged, it is a sign of pride, because it shows you trust in your own power,” said Mother Teresa of Calcutta. “Your self-sufficiency, your selfishness, and your intellectual pride, will inhibit [God’s] coming to live in your heart, because God cannot fill what is already full.”

After Christ ascended to heaven, the apostles didn’t know what their next step should be. During this dormant time, they had to wait for God’s direction. “…They went to the upper room where they were staying…[and] devoted themselves with one accord to prayer…” (Acts 2:13-14). For ten days, they waited and listened prayerfully for God’s answer, which manifested at Pentecost with the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Brick Wall with slogan

Every one of us has experienced frustrating times when despite all our efforts, nothing moves forward. You leave voicemail messages, send emails, texts, letters, etc., but no one responds. You launch a new venture, but the people you counted on to support it are strangely absent, whether through thoughtlessness, self-absorption, or because they’re dealing with personal problems. Your new business seemed off to a great start, but now the phone is silent and no one seems to know you exist. Just as you seem to be advancing toward a goal, you’re hit with illness, a family crisis, or financial problems, and all progress comes to a screeching halt.

During times of stagnation or frustration, surrender your anxiety to a Power greater than your own. Quiet your thoughts and listen with an open mind to what Divine wisdom might be telling you. Gradually, guidance will emerge out of a seemingly hopeless situation.

In Part 2, we’ll examine 10 steps you can take to help turn your setbacks into success. (You’ll also find out what happened to the two authors who couldn’t sell their book!)