“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.”― Pema Chödrön

Wow, what a week.

You know those weeks that are so chock-full of just about everything that you get to the end gasping and staring around you wildly, scrabbling around for a foothold, wondering how on earth you made it through? Those weeks where you all-too-easily forget that you actually chose to do all of it and instead revel in the gloriously overwhelming irresponsibility of being at effect to everything and everyone around you?

Yeah, I had one of those weeks. So did Adam (I don’t think he minds me sharing that we get overwhelmed, too). It’s all great stuff and important stuff and the stuff I want to be doing, but that doesn’t mean I remember that it’s great at the time. My approach was more along the lines of suiting up like a linebacker: Thumping my chest, chanting, “Let’s DO this!” and wearing padding, a helmet and my jaw set in a grim line, ready for the tackle.

t’s a bit intimidating.

Know what you get when you set up to achieve your goals/get through your week this way? You get fear, doubt and probably a decent amount of bruising. You get a fight. That is, after all, what you set out to find. You looked for a difficult path and, of course, you found one. I looked for stress and ta-da! I found it! I got what I wanted, whether I really wanted it or not (I don’t really want more stress). When I say “you” here, you realize I’m talking about me, right? Oh, and, if you think I’m only talking about me, you might want to think again…

Thinking it’s impossible and stressful and that you have no choice but to suffer through it is not an entirely empowering position in the chess game that is your life. In a weird way, though, after a helluva week, I am better able to see the power I actually have in my own life to decide how things go. Now, whether I use that power for good or for evil, joy or misery, ease or stress; that’s entirely up to me, too.

Are all my days going to be easy and happy and joyful, just because I say so when my alarm sounds off on a brand-new day? Well, in reality, probably not. I’m not trying to sell you rainbows and Skittles-pooping unicorns. Some days, there’s going to be a lot to do. Some days, I will be sad or tired or frustrated. That’s just life. But gearing up for a fight is not going to make it easier on me, or any of the people around me, either. To be honest, I’m also really good at finding opponents and creating them in my life. In this strategy, Life becomes an opponent. I suit up without even realizing it, because I’ve got a lot of practice (33 years’ worth, to be exact) expecting a fight and tackling Life out of my way.

Wearing all that padding and armour gets in your way. It’s unwieldy, unyielding and reduces your mobility. It makes it hard to catch a long shot. The helmet restricts your vision, limiting your options, or at least your ability to see options. When your hands are full, holding a shield in one hand and a sword in the other, your arms will get awfully tired before you’ve even done what you set out to do. If you’re looking for a fight, it’s hard to see anything but opposition. You might be oblivious to the outstretched hands that offer support and connection, reminding you that you’re not alone.

When you're looking for a fight, it's hard to see anything else. Click To Tweet

All of that hunkering down and struggling with ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE OH-SO HARD feels exhausting. You might even feel like you’re achieving something; how else could you be so tired? You must be achieving something with all that struggling, right? Not necessarily. It just feels like you’re doing stuff because of all the extra weight you’re lifting. It’s misplaced effort and wasted energy that could be better spent on what you really want to create. A shot of adrenaline in a moment of stress can be helpful—a lifesaver, even—but constantly living on adrenaline is not good for you.

With all of your vulnerability covered up, things like support, joy, fun, compassion and forgiveness have a tough time getting in or out (they have to squeeze through the little chinks here and there). You’ll find it tricky to create what you really want to see in your life if your head is down while you charge your opponents, especially because your foe isn’t work, family, obligations and chores: It’s you that you’re fighting.

What’s something you’ve “got” to do? Something unappealing, or stressful or unpleasant that you are not looking forward to accomplishing? Can you see where you are suiting up for a struggle in your life? What would you like to experience, instead? What if your what-for was your focus, instead of the obstacles in your way?