How much difference can you create in your life with a subtle little shift in perception? Sometimes the difference between a happy, successful outcome and a dismal failure, is only a slight shift in perception. How we represent things to ourselves determines how we will respond to any given situation. In turn, our response will help determine the outcome.
When life hands you a challenge, how do you feel about it? What is your initial internal response on an emotional level? What is your external response as seen through your body language and verbal expressions? Why does it even matter?
What do our responses reveal about us?
How we respond to any situation reveals a lot about our attitude and perception. So, when we see challenges as opportunities, what does that reveal about our personal vantage point? Likely it means that we have a healthy degree of optimism, self-confidence and openness, along with an adventurous spirit. It would indicate that we enjoy life and look forward to whatever comes next.
On the other hand, what does it say about us when we greet a new challenge with feelings like: “Oh no, I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” Well obviously, this would indicate that we are running low on resources. It might also reveal a pessimistic, closed, and somewhat fearful perception of the world around us. This type of limiting attitude can only attract more of the same. Fear and negativity cannot possibly create a life of joy and prosperity.
The surprising thing is that there is often only a small degree of difference between a positive, optimistic perception, and a negative, pessimistic one. Even though these two attitudes are polar opposites, they both started with the same challenge.
One degree of difference
Our immediate response to any situation sets up a corresponding chain of neurological events. If we can control our immediate response, we can change the outcome of those events. Allow me to illustrate.
When a golfer takes a swing at a ball, one degree of difference can determine whether he comes in under par, or sinks one in the lake. When a jet takes off from LA international, headed toward London, one degree of difference can determine whether he lands in Greenland or Africa. Okay, I admit that I didn’t plot this one on a map, but you get the idea.
Correspondingly, if our first response to any given situation is negative, it makes a positive outcome much more difficult to achieve. That initial negative response will trigger our established response patterns, and we will begin to follow the ingrained pattern established by previous negative experiences. In essence, we will switch over to autopilot in the wrong direction.
Here’s the important point: training ourselves to respond positively, or at least neutrally, will have the opposite effect. An optimistic response to a new challenge will trigger a completely different set of established response patterns. Our subconscious will look for similarities between this situation and our initial response to positive experiences from our past. This will initiate a neurological chain reaction that will help move us in the right direction. Now we will be operating from a much more resourceful state.
So how do we train ourselves to control our initial response to challenges so they feel like opportunities? Let’s look at…
3 Ways to Turn Challenges into Opportunities
1) Liberate yourself – Accept responsibility! The first step is to recognize that we are in control. We need to accept responsibility for our responses, and recognize that they assert a powerful influence on our life. How many times have you heard someone say, “That’s just how I am, I can’t help it.” Until we accept responsibility we won’t have any reason to change.
Accepting responsibility is a wonderfully liberating experience. It puts us in the driver’s seat of our own life. That means that we are in control, and we can change direction anytime we want to. It is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself.
Some people shy away from responsibility because it brings with it accountability. So let me ask you this, is it more empowering to be accountable for your own actions and attitudes, or to make somebody else responsible?
You see, when we give away accountability we create a state of helplessness. So I encourage you, liberate yourself – accept responsibility.
2) Use leverage! Leverage means that you exert the greatest amount of control with the least amount of effort. The time to do this is during the first few moments when you are faced with a new challenge. Once you start down a negative road, it is much more difficult to reverse your course. If you control your first step, you start out in the right direction, and it is much easier to maintain that direction.
This is true in all aspects of our lives. If you are a cookie monster (like me) and you’re trying to exercise control over your cravings, where is the best place to do that? If you said, “at the store,” then you are absolutely right. If you don’t bring the cookies home, you won’t be tempted to eat them. If you don’t take them off the shelf and put them in your cart, you won’t be tempted to buy them. So, the simple act of leaving them on the shelf gives you the greatest leverage for controlling your cravings.
In the same way, weighing a situation before we respond to it gives us the greatest leverage in determining the outcome. In other words, leave the negative response on the shelf.
3) Turn it into a game. When we take life too seriously, it’s easy to overreact to situations. Why not turn it into a game instead? If you tend to react negatively to challenges, try imitating somebody who always reacts positively. Make a game out of it, put yourself in character, play the role until you establish a new response pattern.
Role-playing makes it much easier to break ingrained habits then trying to tackle them head-on. It also makes the whole process more fun. You might feel self-conscious imitating somebody else, but trust me, no one will notice. What they will notice is how you respond positively to challenging situations. In return, they will respond to you in a positive way, and everybody feels better.
Look, you are surrounded by opportunities!
Now you have three powerful ways to control your initial response to challenging situations. Like most of the life skills I write about, these are simple steps that can help you to quickly transform the quality of your life. If you are interested in a step-by-step program for producing unprecedented personal growth, have a look at TRUE SELF.
Do you have a favorite tip for seeing opportunities in your challenges?
Have you ever discovered opportunities hidden in a challenging situation?
The lines are open!
My book TRUE SELF is the fastest inexpensive way (coaching is the fastest) to make positive life changes very quickly. From discovering and dismantling your limiting beliefs, to aligning with and realizing your most cherished goals – and everything in between. TRUE SELF will guide you through the process.