At some point in time we all run across, or through, some kind of obstacle course. Though physical ones are the best known, intellectual and emotional courses can be just as taxing and trying. A sometimes difficult thing to remember is that virtually all the obstacle courses we encounter we’ve chosen to attempt; it may feel as if we’ve been thrown into many of these challenging places, but we wouldn’t have landed anywhere near the start of one unless weren’t on a path that leads directly to the particular obstacles found there. Often we blame and accuse others of putting us in the midst of the obstacles we are facing, however tossing blame and accusations about serves only to make our way over, through, and around harder than it needs to be. We also tend to feel alone in at least some of these situations, or to feel tested; though we may think and feel that we are, indeed, alone that is not necessarily the case. It is never wrong to ask for help and it doesn’t make you appear weak or incompetent, but strong enough to know when to seek assistance and wise enough to do the same. Shouldn’t an obstace course be approached calmly instead of in a panic?
Sometimes we so much admire a person, place, or concept that we rush headlong into any kind of relationship that we can with them and fail to take the time a close and impartial look at the thing we are enamoured of in more than one way. We become blinded by the light of what seems to be perfect for our needs and wants and ignore the fact that there is more than one side to us as well as to the object that is blinding and attracting us at the same time. It may well be that whatever is behind that shining light really is just the thing for us, but making that assumption can be very detrimental to our well-being. We can do things to avoid the shock and deflation of discovering the possible faults and shortcomings associated with our admired and desired subjects: we can don metaphorical sunglasses to see through the glare of supposed perfection, we can seek shade from which we can view our objective more clearly, or we can walk around and behind to see the ‘man’ behind the curtain of presentation. It’s better to leap into action or dash after a goal only after studying its reality, isn’t it?
We may not always be feeling our best, we may find ourselves in awkward or negative positions, we may have suffered losses of many different kinds, but in general we will not let allow ourselves to descend past certain standards of behavior, grooming, or thinking. Maintaining a self-defined standard in which our dignity and a positive self-esteem are assured is necessary for survival and for the opportunity to effect a change in our circumstances. The majority of people do not choose to wallow in cosmic woe but are trying to work their way toward ever more positive and uplifting places that will create and upward spiral of more and more ambitious goals that lead to better and better outcomes. If we manage to cling to our standards when we are at or approaching our lowest point we stand a good chance at being able to maintain those standards more easily or to lift the bar higher for ourselves when we’ve conquered some of our demons and achieved some of our goals. A benefit we most often have no idea of is in our example of what can be accomplished when one doesn’t let go of self-respect and when one doesn’t stop making an effort to create and reach goals, no matter how small or mundane they may be. Isn’t creating and maintaining a set of standards crucial to your self-respect and self-esteem?
When once one has seen a bigger part of the world than one’s own tiny piece, it becomes clear that one is not really larger than life and that one is not really the most important thing in the wider world; and it may occur to one that an occasion or two may come where a bit of protection is in order. One thing to remember is that protection does not mean being taken care of; nor does it mean that you will be protected from everything and anything. Being protected is not about being completely shielded from physical and mental danger either; it is about allowing one to see the danger and to learn from the circumstances so that you will be able to deal with that kind of situation again on your own. Being protected is also about having a glimmer of hope, for a protector should also include a bit of the mentor in their make up. It is not a good thing at all to come to rely on your protector to take all responsibility for you and your actions; you must remember and hold in your mind that your choices are your own and ultimately you are responsible for yourself. But it is nice to look down and see a larger than life reflection mirroring what you would like to become, isn’t it?
During a lot much of our growing up years, and even afterward, we are told, and we hear, that the straight and narrow path is the easiest and the quickest way to take to get where we should want to; where everyone’s ambitions should take them. We will have all our decisions made for us, we will follow other peoples’ rules, we will have the same feelings that everyone else does; consequently we fear that we will become less and less able to take real joy in something, anything; or to be able to feel strongly enough about something that we might actually want to do something about it. There can be no problem associated with an offering of guidelines or suggestions, but to put someone between narrow lines and expect them to color their lives within those lines is unrealistic at best, but also cruel and limiting to them and disastrous for you, your perceptions of yourself and of them. Without being given, or taking, the leeway to glance to either side and the ability to take an alternate path when that course is desired or warranted we could lose all the characteristics that makes us human. Wouldn’t you rather swerve from the straight and narrow than turn yourself into an automaton?
Toys are a fine thing to have, or to have the use of, for relaxation, learning, letting off steam and many other things. We all like some toys better than others, but a new toy is fun to experiment with, an old, familiar toy is a comfort and a friend, and a desired, but not yet acquired toy can be an incentive and a challenge. What we must remember is that objects are toys, living beings are not, and should never be considered so. If you damage, physically or emotionally, a living being you, or they, may not be able to repair that damage. When you purposely damage a non-living object, you may not be able to repair it, but the only living thing you may have damaged would have been yourself. This is no good thing either, but is less damaging to more parties, and may prompt you into a greater sense of responsibility than you displayed previously. We must decide when something can be considered a toy and when something is very definitely not a toy. Then we can make the choice whether to play games with an appropriate toy or risk damaging something that is not a toy at all. Would you choose not to choose, or would you choose to think before acting?
We all have reasons to feel proud of ourselves, we may have achieved a goal we have set ourselves or that someone else has set for us, we may, in company with a team, have overcome an obstacle or removed a barrier to success, or we may have made it through the day in the face of opposition. All of these victories, and more, are things that we should feel proud of. But pride, well-deserved pride, has acquired a negative connotation that it doesn’t always deserve. However, an excess of pride can, and should, be seen as harmful to others and, in time, detrimental to the prideful person. Those who are proud of themselves for undeserving reasons or feel proud that they are better than anyone else without justification give pride a bad name. With these bad examples, seen almost anywhere, it can feel embarrassing or dishonest to receive praise and recognition for the things we have done that we should feel proud of. When it comes to hiding our light under a bushel, thus fostering false modesty, we might consider again choose to accept accolades, and most importantly, acknowledge to ourselves that we have done something admirable, handled a bad situation well, that we are really good people. Wouldn’t you like to feel pride in yourself without guilt?