Hitting the Wall: Overcoming Life's Challenges!

Friday, August 18, 2023 @ 2:59 PM

You know the feeling. That moment when things seem dark, like the color has been stripped away from your world when either failure or loss tears away plans you’ve made and dreams you envisioned.

Everything that you had been building towards, all of the progress and struggle and sacrifice, everything falls apart, and you’re unsure if there’s a way to pick up the pieces. No matter where you are in your life, whether buying a house, building a career, or trying to relax, there’s the chance you’ll run into THE WALL.

THE WALL is the limit of our abilities, emotions, patience, or luck. THE WALL is the point where we find that our efforts are not good enough and where we find our greatest struggles. THE WALL is where we are beaten.

But it doesn’t have to be. It turns out we climb THE WALL every single day. That’s right. We climb the wall hundreds of times a day. It’s in our head, and we CAN conquer it.

We will talk about some ways to refocus, dust ourselves off, and get over that beast. There isn’t any single, unified approach. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” road to success, even though many self-help books insist there is. But we can use skills, tactics, and mindsets to keep ourselves in the fight, no matter what that fight may be.

THE WALL is where we fail, but it must not be where we give up!

Remember the story of Moses (Exodus 17) when the Israelites were battling the Amalekites? As long as Moses' arms are raised, God's people will be victorious against their enemies. But should Moses' arms fall, the enemy will win. Even though he bravely tried to hold up his arms so the Israelites would win the battle, Moses became fatigued. He couldn't do it alone. His brother, Aaron, and his general, Hur, knew Moses couldn't do it alone. They had him sit on a rock and stood on either side of him, holding up his arms until the day ended and the battle was won.

All of us will hit the wall, as Moses did, no matter how strong our faith is, how dedicated we are, and how strong we are physically.

That's why we need each other. But we can also look at different ways to climb those walls (obstacles) we face daily.

The first and most crucial step in overcoming an obstacle is to identify what prevents us from achieving our goals and define the obstacle itself. To do that, we also must have a firm grasp on what our goal is and the conditions in which we will find satisfaction.

We do this kind of evaluation subconsciously all the time; “I am hungry; I do not have a burger,” for example. The solution to the obstacle is simple and straightforward in this case. We can hit a drive-thru or get the pan out and cook a hamburger ourselves.

However, when the Obstacle becomes more complex, we may have to take more time and effort to examine what hinders our progress.

This may seem basic to some readers, but the fundamentals are important. We absolutely must be capable of expanding our awareness of the situation before we can dissect and dismantle the obstacle. We have to be able to slow things down, to stop and pay attention, focus, and see where we can improve. This step comes with an important task, which cannot or MUST NOT be skipped.

We have to figure out if we can win the fight at all or if we need to.

Ultimately, we cannot overcome everything. We cannot overcome every obstacle.

Failure is as much a part of the human experience as success, and while it often feels like defeat is a precursor to death, it’s rarely so serious.

As we analyze our situation, we may find that encountering the wall has made us realize our priorities are skewed and need to be adjusted, or the obstacles have challenged us to grow or obtain success we would not have otherwise obtained.

Often, our emotions distort our perception, and we place a heightened level of importance on the immediate challenge that might not be necessary or appropriate. By taking a step back, examining our emotional response, and reframing the problem through a lens of rationality, we might find that the thing that currently confounds us may be out of our control or something that can be side-stepped entirely.

Save yourself the frustration of climbing THE WALL if you don’t need to or want to climb it! If you take the time to determine that you care about the problem you are facing, the next steps become easier, and you can adjust how much you care later down the line.

It’s vital to note that other people's actions and feelings are NOT under our control. If your rational examination of THE WALL reveals someone else is controlling your progress, you’ll have to adjust your strategy. More on that later, but for now, focus on what YOU can accomplish.

Once we’ve figured out what the obstacle is and that there is something we can do to overcome it, we have to enact the plan.

Whether it’s physical improvement, relationship goals, or learning a new skill, having a course of action that includes intent and commitment is necessary. An added bonus is to simply write it down. In short, you must maintain the idea that YOU CAN DO THIS in your mind at all times and learn to manage emotions and expectations until that idea becomes a reality, whether it takes a short time or a long time.

Specificity can be extraordinarily helpful in this stage; it’s better to set a plan that includes performance milestones. It’s HARD to lose 20 pounds or play the guitar like Hendrix, but if our plan is “eat more vegetables and less pie” or “learn how to play a chord this week,” we can break THE WALL into manageable “sections.” The smaller the sections, the easier they are to get over.

OK, we have our plan, our goal, and the all-important realistic and rational appraisal of our own ability. We’re almost there! Now, all we have to do is build our skills and find our flow, and this part can take YEARS! Ideally, in fact, it will take the rest of your life. Ultimately, if we can conquer THE WALL, we will do so by improving ourselves, our communication, our focus, and our habits.

If possible, you’ll want to do something easy to say and hard to accomplish; Detach your sense of self-worth from success or failure.

This isn't easy. It’s INCREDIBLY counter-intuitive to reaffirm that failure does not make you a bad person.

Naturally, there is a sense of scale to be considered; failure to meet a deadline is less of an indication of your character than, say, failure to remain faithful in a relationship, so this step needs to be performed carefully. If THE WALL you face will affect other people, you need to communicate with them honestly and openly before you begin attempting a course of action.

This is essentially your chance to call in a secret weapon. If you can, get help. If THE WALL is too tough to break down alone, find someone with a jackhammer. If you don’t naturally have the skill set necessary to achieve your goal, getting assistance from someone that does will help you develop new skills more efficiently.

In most cases, the people who can help you have had to do the same thing themselves. This might be a personal trainer or a gym buddy for obstacles like physical fitness. For relationship hurdles, we (of course) highly recommend therapy, or at the very least, an honest and open discussion with the people involved in the relationship. If you’re trying to develop new skills or a new career, get insight from those who have walked that road before or have expertise in those areas. They may show you holes in THE WALL that you didn’t see before and help you overcome the wall more quickly or successfully.

Finally, you’re going to want to find a community. NO MATTER WHAT YOUR STRUGGLE IS, YOU NEED COMMUNITY, even if it’s a problem you can solve yourself.

We are human. We will fail, possibly several times, until we succeed and ALL hit THE WALL. We need other people who understand the struggle and can provide support, especially those who share our values.

Sometimes, we will need encouragement through the more complicated parts of our personal growth, even if it comes from someone uninvolved in our personal WALL. We need people to celebrate when we finally get over the top, and we need to share what we have learned as well. It is incredibly important that we share the lessons that we have learned with others to lessen the burden of the struggle.

Humans have the most amazing capacity for change and achievement. It may take a ton of time. It might take assistance, organization, or tools. But that’s life. Getting over THE WALL makes our lives and communities better, stronger, and more capable of supporting each other. In the end, that’s the greatest goal.

We can start building bridges once we hit the top of THE WALL. And that’s when we can become advocates to help others overcome their walls and find joy in our and their journeys.