Category Archives: Uncategorized

From A Threat To A Challenge

As I’ve said before, fear doesn’t give a damn whether a perceived threat is indeed life threatening or not. But being scared of everything isn’t a way to live. So what to do?

In SuperBetter (a book about increasing resilience from a gameful perspective) the author explores the important distinction between perceiving circumstances as a challenge versus a threat.

Playing is always more fun than feeling threatened...
Playing is always more fun than feeling threatened…

It’s a fairly simple change in attitude or perspective. A necessary starting point is to identify the threat. Get clear on that. Then, reframe the situation as a challenge – which by definition is anything that “provokes our desires to test our strengths and abilities and that gives us the opportunity to improve them”. And crucially, decide whether you accept the challenge or not. Once accepted, you’re now all in voluntarily and ready to “rise up” to the challenge.

See the difference? A threat is something that’s happening TO you. A challenge is an opportunity – perhaps something happening FOR you. True, most of us are facing uninvited challenges with chronic issues looming over our lives. But I’m guessing that within your lifestyle, there are some obstacles that could benefit from a gameful attitude of reframing the situation as a challenge.

I’ve been doing this in some areas of my life and find that it brings out a more playful side of me (even though the issue is serious). I’ve also looked at some obstacles/problems and decided not to accept those challenges at the moment. This is another form of relief.

According to the McGonigal, the research shows this mental shift impacts your biological responses (reducing some of the fight/flight reactions) and sets the stage to look for resources (both internally and externally) to address the issue – making it an adaptive rather than a maladaptive response.

Pretty cool eh?   ~Z

Is helping others part of thriving?

“There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.”              Helen Keller

A weighty challenge for many of us as we recognize increasingly the things that we can no longer do well, easily or at all, is learning to ask others for support. Learning to ask from a place of power and self-confidence is an art, and not one that most of us have had much if any teaching or mentoring in. It becomes an important tool in your new toolbox.

Acting and asking… both important for being well...
Acting and asking – both important for being well…

I was also reminded recently of the power and importance of acting to help someone else as a valuable if not obvious logical option to help us feel better about ourselves. Serving and giving are part of being human and whole. Just because I may need help in some areas, may not preclude me being able to help or support others some other way.

It can be easy to get caught up in our own survival. But thriving will require thinking beyond our immediate self-interest of surviving. Thriving requires being human. Being human is a different kind of self-interest. Perhaps of a higher order?

So I invite you to look for or create the opportunity to help someone. Oh, and be sure and ask them first so you’re not “care-taking” them. In fact, I find being asked “Do you want any help?” as one of the kindest and humbling things anyone can say or do for me, regardless of the outcome.

So go feel better and offer to help someone! 

I’m okay that I like myself more when I’m kind or generous. It helps me counteract that feeling of being a victim or being entitled. It helps me feel well…

You?   ~Z

How good are you at setting limits?

I write often about the art of learning to set limits for myself and boundaries for others, because I find it to be a challenging and sometimes complex maze to weave through daily. Partly because setting and honoring limits doesn’t come naturally to me. Partly because I’m still a little pissed I can’t do everything I want, whenever I want. Partly because I’m different everyday and can’t confidently predict how I’m going to feel tomorrow or next week.

Limits and boundaries free us up for the things that bring us alive!
Limits and boundaries free us up for the things that bring us alive!

And yet setting limits cleanly and honoring them, is easily the most important new skill I’ve developed as a person with chronic health issues. When I do it well, I’m better off. When I don’t, the cost can be high. The essence of that cost is that I lose at least a little – and sometimes a lot – of my independence and freedom about how to live my life. My options are few when I’m only able to lie down or sleep…

Of course, knowing and doing are two different beasts. So the act of setting a limit/boundary and honoring it – is in fact a skill that can be learned. If you’re already good at it great. If you’re not, can you let yourself be “not good” at it and try it anyway? Can you practice? Can you set the intention of “growing that muscle” of setting limits or boundaries and approach it with curiosity and self compassion?

Can you have faith that, while it may never be easy, you CAN get better and experience less suffering?

Can you give yourself permission to start practicing the art of honoring what you know to be your limits with one small step today?   ~Z