Inspiring Words to Help You Work Through a Challenge

If you don’t know where to start or how to keep going, these tips will help.

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Posted in , Apr 7, 2021

Facing a challenge

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

These words from the pioneering African American tennis champion Arthur Ashe resonate so vibrantly with the moment we’re living in and, really, with any time of complexity and challenge. It’s one of those quotations that invites us to step into its wisdom and explore it in the context of our own lives.

Start Where You Are
Where else would you start on any journey, project or process than right where you are? It can feel surprisingly hard to do this, to stay present in the here and now. I love the “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” technique to feel grounded. Start by taking some deep breaths. Then notice five things you see, four things you feel, three things you hear, two things you smell and one thing you taste. Noticing the smallest details of the physical space you are occupying at a given moment can help you feel steady and ready to step forward into a task, challenge or other new chapter.

Use What You Have
What else could we use than the resources actually available to us? This is a helpful thought when dinnertime is getting close, my stomach is starting to rumble, and I’m not sure what will be on my plate. I always calm down and come up with something when I open the pantry or fridge and open my eyes to what I have and can use. With life challenges like feeling stuck at work, unsure in a relationship or restricted by emotional or physical health concerns, the available resources might not be immediately apparent. Sometimes the best first step is to reach out for support in connecting with new-to-you tools that could be helpful on whatever road you’re traveling.

Do What You Can
What else can we ever do than what’s possible? This reminds me of the fable “The Star Thrower,” in which a child persists in tossing starfish back into the sea, even with the knowledge that he can’t possibly save them all. Whatever is on your shoulders right now, the frustrating reality is, you won’t be able to complete it all, solve it all, achieve it all. But the encouraging truth is, you can do quite a bit. Grounded in the present moment, connected with the resources you need to take the first steps and confident in your goal, you can persist, with the knowledge that what you do complete, solve and accomplish is important—and enough.

What wisdom bolsters your spirit when you are feeling challenged?

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