How Emotionally Flexible Are You?
(This is an excerpt from my book on personal transformation, Break Your Mold, available Oct 2013 in eBook and shortly thereafter in print.)
That really comes down to this question, What do you do when resistance happens in your life?
Many fight resistance. They might scream, convulse in anger or frustration. They might bemoan their fate or curse their luck. Often people quit, throw up their hands and say, “That’s it! I’m done!” Then they walk away from their dreams.
What does that accomplish?
Anything worth having, achieving, or changing takes effort. Changing how you approach life, and the results you get, takes effort! Sometimes you’ll meet resistance. At others, you’ll glide effortlessly through this process.
Either way, you must persevere. Being Emotionally Flexible allows you to do just that!
Think of your life path as a streambed. Resistance is a boulder thrown in your streambed. If you’re a rock rolling through your streambed, chances are you’ll roll into the boulder, get chipped or cracked and stop moving! Depending on your speed, you might even shatter.
But if you’re water flowing through your stream bed, you’ll meet the boulder, fill up the stream bed until you flow around the obstruction, and continue on your way. Sure, the obstacle delayed you as you filled up enough to flow around the edges. But it never stopped you. It never damaged you. It only slowed you—while you grew enough to get around the obstacle.
Another great example of managing challenges in life is wind. Imagine you’re the breeze floating across a meadow on a warm summer day. As you near the edge of the meadow you discover trees in your path. These are simple. You effortlessly glide around them and continue on your way.
They hardly slow you down.
Next you come upon a shack, sagging against the mountain side like a tired old man. You flow over its splintered wood and through empty windows. You fill its lone room with warmth and the smell of flowers before exiting the other side and flying across the mountain. The shack slows you more than the trees, but you still pass it without effort or difficulty.
But what if you’re a boulder rolling through the meadow? When you hit the trees, you’ll Hit The Trees! You won’t make it far because the trees become a giant net, slowing you, trapping you. And you’re going to break some trees too! Forget making it to the cabin. Every tree you hit steals your momentum. It won’t take long before you’re at a standstill.
Wind and water have two main things in common. They both take the path of least resistance and they both keep moving!
Wind and Water adapt to situations effortlessly and persist in their path.
A rock may try to take the path of least resistance but it’s incapable of adapting. A rock will plow through or break against most things that wind and water slip around. Everything the rock hits slows it down. Sure, it might crush an obstacle, but it loses energy and momentum with each one. And, as you realize, when a rock crashes into something bigger or harder, the rock takes a lot of damage.
Is that how you want to live?
Rocks live tough lives. I know. I used to be one…
Emotionally that is.
How can the principles of adaptation and persistence make a difference?
Here’s an example from my life:
I used to have the emotional flexibility of a boulder. I talked down to myself all the time. If something wasn’t happening how I thought it should, I felt anxious and scared. Often, I’d feel angry because I couldn’t stand feeling out-of-control. But I felt out-of-control any time things weren’t going according to my plan.
As you know, life’s rarely ordered, logical, or predictable! That means things rarely went according to my plan. The very nature of life meant that I almost always felt out-of-control. So I almost always felt angry, anxious, and scared. (You understand the problem with this pattern of thinking.) So I used to try to force order on my life anyway, to make it comfortable for me.
It was all about me… Aside from being a selfish way to live; that resulted in lots of stress and anxiety!
I was trying to control things that were outside my control. There are things you can directly impact or influence in your life. There are many, many things you aren’t able to impact or control though.
Do you know the difference?
So I lived in a state called “Hyper Vigilance”. I tried to control everything, and I mean everything, that happened in my life. This behavior wasn’t just because I like order, logic, and predictability. I hadn’t learned to deal with many things that happened to me as a child. Hyper Vigilance was my subconscious mind’s way of trying to protect me from harm. The root subconscious belief was, If I can control everything in my life, nothing can hurt me.
But you know what?
That belief is fundamentally flawed because:
There’s no way to control everything that happens in life because there are many other players in the game. You can’t control others. Nor should you try.
You’re responsible for how events impact you. No matter how crappy something is, you’re the one who decides what you do with it. That means horrible, even tragic events can be used for your good—and the good of others—when you choose to use them that way.
Once I learned those concepts, life was much easier to bear. I began to love life because I understood that happiness and love are choices.
I started choosing happiness and love. I stopped being a strong, inflexible, fragile rock and started becoming like wind and water. Make no mistake; wind and water are strong too. They can wear down cliff faces, topple trees, and reshape their landscape. They do that when necessary. But for the most part, they work with slow precision creating change that runs deep and lasts.
Which will you choose?
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from my book, Break Your Mold! (Available Oct 2013)
Always remember; You Are The Master of Your Destiny!
Copyright © 2013 Roland Byrd — All Rights Reserved