Everyone faces obstacles, some people more so than others. I find that often the most successful people in their fields are the ones who had obstacles to overcome. I grew up with ADHD. I often would be underestimated by teachers and peers due to my mental health condition. I struggled with a sense of failure and inadequacy despite my mother's constant reassurance. I remember a moment when a teacher told other students that I did not need to know the content she was teaching because I would not need to use it as an adult. That the jobs that I would be working would not require intelligence or a formal education. Terrible thing to hear as a child. The sadder reality is, I believed it. The obstacles in front of me were too great in my eyes to overcome, so I gave up. For most of my education in elementary, Jr. High, and High School I had given up and did as little as possible to avoid the inferior feelings I would feel when it came to education. One day though something changed inside of me and I got angry. I do not remember a precise moment but at some point the people speaking life and encouragement in my life were louder then the ones who had doubted me. I had given my teachers plenty to go off to assume my success academically would be limited but I was determined that would not be the case any longer.
My moment of change happened when my desire for success out weighed my fear of failure. I had something to prove to myself, to prove that I can achieve my goals. I failed and had many embarrassing moments in college were my ignorance and lack of knowledge was apparent to my professors or peers. In those moments, instead of deciding to feed my insecurities I learned to use those moments to grow. I was able to find those movements as opportunities to be cherished rather than mistakes that define me and perpetuate my low self-esteem.
One of my professors in graduate school would quote Victor Frankle often saying "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom". In that pause, that moment of silence, our brains are working through years of experiences and beliefs that have brought us to that point. Sometimes those thoughts or beliefs are accurate, but often they are wrong or short-sell the innate potential that is in you. I often tell clients that when we look at ourselves we see all our flaws and short comings, so it becomes difficult to see our potential. To best understand potential I love using this example:
When a parent looks at their new born child all they see is the innate potential that child has. The potential of that child is limitless. What that child could be or achieve is limitless due to the newness of their life. The way parents look at their new born child is how God sees us. Our potential will always be bigger than we can comprehend for ourselve.
So in the moments of silence sometimes we will feel fear, anxiety, depression, or insecurities which will attempt to limit you. I want to encourage you look at your obstacles or limitations as opportunities to grow. Growth is a beautiful thing which can spring new skills, life, and goals. The thing about growth is, as alluring as it may be, it's hard work. Growth takes effort, discipline, and determination to overcome the things that challenge us. Which brings us full circle. To overcome the obstacles ahead, your drive and willingness to overcome the adversity that lies in front of you will be a direct indication/correlation of how successful you will and can be. Here are some suggestions how to start setting goals and overcome the things that prevent you from achieving them:
Start with small achievable goals.
Create accountability to meet those goals.
Seek guidance from people who can help you achieve your goals.
Those simple steps will will set you up to achieve and overcome the obstacles that keep you from achieving your goals. Your potential will always be greater than you anticipate, so do not limit your capacity to change and overcome. I plan on expanding more in depth in future posts about how to go about giving yourself the best chances to achieve your goals.
Aaron Martinez M.Ed. LPC