Walk Against the Wind

Mother nature is unpredictable.  One moment, the air is calm and smooth – the next moment, you feel a huge gust of wind moving directly towards you. It is these momentary shifts that can throw us for a loop.  When the wind is trying to overwhelm you by coming at you head-on, what do you do?

You have three primary choices when facing resistance:

(1) Stop the Wind

"The first step toward change is awareness.  The second step is acceptance." - Nathaniel Branden

You could choose to stand still and resist the wind, but it will persist. You can't stop the wind. It is simply not possible. We cannot control external forces in our lives - only our reaction to these forces.

(2) Walk Against the Wind

"We are designed for the climb, not for taking our ease, either in the valley or at the summit." - John Gardner

Since we can't stop the wind, we can choose to stop controlling it. As such, we are taking ownership of our situation and reacting to reality. While seemingly easy, it is extremely empowering. Reacting to forces moving against us allows us to take internal control. The most important aspect of this choice is learning to work with the wind. That may mean slowing down on the path, leaning into it to leverage your weight (or assets), focusing and staying straight on the path, or mindfully placing one foot in front of the other to continue moving forward.

(3) Fret about the Wind

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill

Our third choice is to react negatively to our inability to control the situation. Most often, we fret about the situation and every possible thing that is going wrong. You tend to forget about what is going right; when in this zone, your mind only sees one clear path and that path is quite dark. It's natural to get caught in this mentality; however, don't get stuck here. Move as quickly as you can into a place of positive inner control - the wind won't wait for you.

How we react to any given situation speaks to our own character. The ability to walk against the wind is critical because even if it's a small gust, wind is an uncontrollable force of nature that will constantly stream in and out of our lives. The fortitude and patience with which we approach the situation is key to moving forward.

So the wind is up against you... Let's look at a scenario.

You head out for work in the morning and hit a lot of traffic on the way in. This makes you thirty minutes late for an important meeting. Completely flustered by the traffic, you come off as negative and unapproachable at your meeting and your presentation goes poorly. Between the car and the office, you had the opportunity to stand up to the wind - to forge ahead. Instead, the negativity of your morning reflected poorly upon you when you brought it into the meeting. This can be taken further into your work day, when your boss pulls you aside to reflect on it and asks for more professional behavior next time. As things seemingly go wrong throughout the day, a self-fulfilling prophecy begins to tighten its grip on you.

As little grievances add up throughout the day (or weeks/months), the feeling of hopelessness takes over. It can be all-consuming. No options seem to exist anymore. However, you have a choice at each step of the way; you can stop the pattern in its tracks. You may not stop it forever (winds will surely return) but you can control your reaction. You have the choice of mindset: to set it in accordance with the wind and use the gust to your advantage or to stay focused and forge through the temporary annoyance or turmoil.

The key is that you, indeed, have the power.

* I share more posts on this topic on my blog, A Beautiful Ripple Effect. You can also connect with me on twitter. And you can now contact me via this awesome new page!

About the Author

Carolyn Rubenstein

Carolyn Rubenstein is the author of Perseverance, a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student at Harvard, and the Founder/President of a non-profit organization for young adult cancer survivors.

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