Monday, December 8, 2014

3 Tips for Overcoming Obstacles

overcome, faith, struggles, depression, suicide, holiday, cutting, self harm, life, purposeIf you're anything like me, you've spent most of your life climbing uphill. There have been many major obstacles in my life - some that have been placed on my plate and some that I have dished out myself. Fighting depression since the age of eight has been one of the greatest obstacles to overcome because of the debilitating disease itself and all of the additional conditions and consequences that it causes. I have heard people say things like "just shake it off" (long before Taylor Swift) or "you'll get over it." Not only do platitudes fail to comfort they also fail to offer any real direction or help. Not being new to this game, I know for a fact that not everyone wants help. I have been in a position many times where it didn't matter what anyone said or did, I just wanted to wallow in my pit and enjoy the familiarity of loneliness and depression. Sometimes, I didn't know an escape from the pit existed. However, there are many, possibly you, that are tired of living in the pit and want to make changes. That's great! I can assure you that it is possible. God has taught me so much over the years about overcoming obstacles like depression. I can assure you that it's not easy. You don't just "get over it." It takes work, faith and perseverance. I don't know what your next goal is or what obstacle you need to overcome but I would like to share these tips to help you overcome.
This morning I decided to overcome an obstacle. Over the last two years I have become drastically out of shape. My job involves sitting at a desk all day, every day, eating donuts and drinking coffee and my efforts to exercise in the evenings and on weekends have been less than inspirational. So today I got up, got dressed and drove to a boxing fitness center. With Eye of the Tiger playing in my mind and jump rope in hand, I charged into the workout like a champ. Six minutes and three routines later I was sitting on a box gasping for breath trying not to throw up. My obstacle hit me like a brick wall. Will I give up or overcome? Well, having faced a lifetime of obstacles, I've learned a few lessons that apply to this situation. Really, my only two choices are to stay in the condition I am, which I'm not satisfied with, or keep moving forward. I'm going to press on. Let me encourage you to persevere in your trek to climb that mountain. You can, and will, make it. Hopefully, you can benefit from my experience and apply it to your situation. Here are some tips for overcoming obstacles:

1) Don't wait to get started
Procrastination kills motivation. If you have an obstacle before you, start moving now to conquer it. You may fear that you're not ready and you might make a mistake. Probably. Mistakes help us learn. I wasn't ready to jump in to a full workout when I went to the fitness center, but my experience gave me an honest evaluation of what I need to work on - cardio. Now I know which direction to go. My efforts to combat depression took years because I wanted to be stable or "feel better" before working on other issues. Now, I can look back and be thankful for how far I've come. What move are you going to make now to overcome that obstacle?

2) If you get knocked down, get up and try again
This is an old saying, but vital to your progress. Never, ever give up. One of my favorite bible verses says, "No weapon formed against me shall prosper." I find it inspirational for two reasons: what it says, and what it doesn't say. It says that no matter what attacks me, the end has already been determined and those weapons lose. What it doesn't say is just as important. It doesn't say that the weapons can't harm me or do any damage. They can and will. But they can't defeat me. Depression has certainly damaged me over the years, but I'm still alive and enjoying the blessings in my life. Do you have scars? Then you are a survivor. Keep going.

3) Acknowledge every forward step
You will be alive until you die, no? Sounds silly, but there is a great truth here. Are you going to live a life of death or a life of living? The journey of life is yours to take. So what if your goal was 100 steps and you only made 82? That's progress, that's accomplishment, that's perseverance. Remember, it's not over until it's over and every positive move you make is, in itself, overcoming the obstacle. What is the last success you can name, no matter how small? You can do this, one step at a time.