Mapping Your History of Challenge and Growth

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Reflecting upon Life Challenges this week and how they connect with Life Lessons, I find there are themes that run through my own history of challenges or hardships, and so I wonder if this is true for you as well. Some of my most challenging trials are ones that did not end well, in terms of relationships or losses in general. Yet, each one did bring me to some lessons about how to approach a similar situation for the future. The deepest of them–literally losing my dog Ellie and not being able to recover her over a six month search; and, relationship endings or shifts—have each carried multiple lessons and insights. In that sense, they were not without value.

Ladder of Success

I invite you to map your history of Life Challenges and your lessons associated with those. For Stage One, you can use a simple, shorthand technique sampled below in the form of a list. You can map your ages when memorable challenges have occurred in your life, then take note of the lessons or insights you gained from each experience:

Stage One (sample):

CHALLENGE                      age    LESSON

Father’s harshness             4-16  conscience    

Fencing tourneys               18-21   practice!

DN turmoil                          19 psychological depths

Moving Buffalo to Phoenix 24     inner guidance

Dissertation                        32-38  manifestation

SF struggle                        41       detachment

CP debacle                        42       self-assertion

K’s moving                         46       acceptance

leadership challenge         48      good of whole

Ellie’s loss                         55      fallibility

Book process                    50-60  dedication

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For Stage Two of mapping your Life Challenges and Lessons, ask yourself if there are themes or KINDS of Challenges that have recurred in your life. You can group same-themed Challenges together in a new listing. I encourage you to actively contemplate each of these and afterwards you may journal and/or talk with a loved one about the KEY LESSONS you have gained as Strengths from having faced each of these kinds of ordeals.

Stage Two:

KINDS of Challenges  /  Key Lessons Gained

MOVES  I have learned to use relocating as a mode of creative transformation, to facilitate new cycles of growth and creative advancement

LOSSES I have learned to accept what cannot be changed, yet to work hard to change what can be changed (St. Francis’s prayer).

PERSONALITY CONFLICTS  I have learned to detach from those who might have a negative or competitive reaction to some of my beliefs or leadership style. Live and let be.

GOAL ACHIEVEMENT Persistence, perseverance, inner guidance, trust, belief, joy, gratitude.

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What are YOUR Key Lessons?  I welcome your insights, comments, and stories!

Your Life Challenges

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A quest is more valuable when there are challenges to overcome in order to achieve it. In fact the challenges that we face in life are in direct relation with our quests as they help us to strengthen our resolve and deepen our understanding. As in fiction, in our lives as well the protagonist must overcome incredible obstacles if she or he is to arrive at a positive, meaningful outcome. Many of the best stories are TRANSFORMATIONAL; the protagonist undergoes a significant CHANGE OF CONSCIOUSNESS in the process of achieving their goals or realizing their deeper reason for the adventure.

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So we ‘should be thankful’ for our obstacles, right? They may not feel like gifts in the moment we experience them, but if we persist to overcome or to survive our challenges, we often look back with gratitude for the tempering and for the lessons learned.

So, while I have titled this post “Your Life Challenges,” I might just as well call it, “Your Greatest Lessons”! What are yours?

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To begin our weekly focus on this topic, I invite you to explore the lessons implicit in some fictional or historical storyline that contains a persistent and difficult challenge.

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I’m thinking of the epic personal sort of challenge Harry Potter faces, for example, in Voldemort. His nemesis with murderous intent through seven years of struggle, Voldemort in all his evil antics is the perfect foil for the alchemical transformation of a young boy and by extension the entire Magical World of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

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The inherent duality of Good and Evil shows up in Harry as he must contend with the feelings engendered in him by the malicious attacks of Voldemort upon his own parents, his friends and himself. How can Harry conquer Voldemort without becoming LIKE him in the process? Indeed, Harry’s greatest Lesson is that both Good and Evil coexist within everyone including himself, but it is his CHOICES that will determine his character and that allow him to cultivate his strengths instead of his weaknesses. Love and friendship provide the anchors Harry can use to bring forth his best qualities despite all evil influences around and within himself. Ultimately Harry faces the greatest challenge of all: to sacrifice his own life for the sake of all he loves. Only in so doing can he finally and forever rid himself of his own darkest potentials; yet when he does, he is granted a form of rebirth of his unriddled, mature character.

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I welcome YOUR insights and stories!