Obstacles and Opportunities

O bstacles and Opportunities are different sides of the same coin. It’s all a matter of perspective.

I’ll bet you’ve been in that situation where you are merrily going along in life, minding your own business, everything going to plan, when WHAM! Life decides to throw something totally unexpected at you. Probably not in a good way. Life is like that.

Your reaction could be one of “Oh no, why me? Why now? What on Earth am I going to do?” Or it might be, “Oh wow! What a marvellous opportunity to test my resilience and resolve!”

I know which my default reaction is!!

So how do you change your default settings from “This is an Obstacle” to “This is an Opportunity”?

 Obstacles are Opportunities in disguise. To reveal them takes a shift of perspective..

First of all you need to deal with the immediate default reaction. Chances are, your subconscious will go into self-protection mode. Isn’t that lovely? It just wants to make sure you see the danger in the situation and are taking it seriously enough. So, find yourself a nice safe, quiet spot and have a good think. Or cry. or scream. Whatever your subconscious is telling you is required.  Just do it in private because you don’t want to have to clear up any subsequent messes! Write it all down in a journal if you like, or write a totally angry letter to vent your temper (then burn it or shred it!).

Ok. Cleared the raw emotion from your system? Good. Now breathe. Take some good deep breaths. Do some meditation or mindfulness activity to ground yourself. There are lots of great Apps to help you with this or just do something simple. I like to count my breaths – 1 breathe in, 2 breathe out – and so on up to 10, then start again. I do this a few times. Then I like to listen and notice the sounds around me. I don’t analyse them, I just notice them.


Time to shift perspective.

Right. Now look at the situation, this Obstacle, as it is. Just write the facts without judgement. What is the reality of the situation? What impact does it actually have? So for example, say you have been made redundant. How long have you got with your current salary? What impact will losing that salary actually have? Which bills will you not be able to pay? Stick to the facts. If your emotions start churning, take some deep breaths. Emotions pass. They are just your sub-conscious being protective again. If your parent is ill, what information do you have? Are they being taken care of? What do you have to do right now? Who do you need to call?

When you have got the facts of the situation, you can then begin to look at options. What could this mean for you? Write down everything, both positive and negative. Get it out of your brain – or else you’ll do that at 2am! Think all the way round the situation. If it is the loss of your job, what could you do now, that you have always wanted to but never dared to do before. If it is the illness of a parent, what things could change now? Will you need to be in contact with your siblings more? Could that bring you closer?

It doesn’t matter how small, how tenuous the Opportunities are, just write them down. It gives you the chance to see that there is so much more to the situation than your initial default setting led you to believe. By doing this, you are showing your brain that, actually, nothing is ever black and white.

Once you have all the options written down, you will be able to choose how you want to look at the situation. You get to choose whether it is an Obstacle or an Opportunity. If you practise this enough, it will become automatic. You will have reprogrammed your default setting to something much more useful.

Clearly, there are some situations which have no immediate positives to them. Bereavement is often one of them. In the depths of grief, you don’t even want to see positives. That is a whole different issue. However, most other situations have two sides, we just can’t always see them. that’s when you need to reflect, regroup and reframe what you see.

Happy reprogramming! And don’t forget to pop along to Facebook or e-mail me and let me know how you get on with this technique. If you think you might like a little help and support with it, why not contact me for some one to one coaching sessions and we can reprogramme your default setting together! Looking forward to hearing from you!