Like it or not, adversity is part of the human experience. Life was not intended to be easy, but created to be filled with obstacles, failures, disappointments and differing levels of adversity.
Sometimes, the difficulties before us appear as unsurmountable mountains. Terrain that is uncharted, so rough it is unclear if we can traverse it unscathed. We hesitate. We fear. Then, too often, we indulge in self-pity.
If there was ever an invaluable emotion competition, self-pity would win the blue ribbon. What positive end comes from self-pity? We waste time wallowing in our own despair, lost in a sea of sorrow that prevents us from creatively realigning our sails. We freeze and frozen, we fail to take action.
Adversity comes in many forms, and I will not pretend that mine are worse than others. I know better. Yet, it is all in the eye of the beholder, is it not?
Recently, I suffered a knee injury. I have spent a month with limited walking ability, unable to kneel on the floor to play with my kids or even tuck my daughter into her toddler bed. As a physician, the loss of mobility is profound. When I round in the hospital, I walk miles each day. I walk quickly to ensure I get to each patient in a timely manner, yet now, that is no longer possible. The reality is, I will undergo a second surgery that will leave me further incapacitated for 2-3 months followed by 6-12 months of rehab to return to full function.
In 2019, this is my unsurmountable mountain. The terrain that I know will leave scars. Standing the impending shadow of what is to come, I felt helpless. I felt vulnerable. I felt as those I was losing control and my livelihood all at the same time. I tried to remind myself it was temporary, that it would be ok. Yet, the fear, uncertainty, guaranteed pain and hard work are the adversity I am forced to face.
I won’t lie, self-pity was definitely within the realm of emotions. However, thanks to some amazing coaching, I recalled that all mountains seem like molehills from an airplane. The mountain did not change, simply the perspective of it.
The next time you face a mountain, remember this. Changing your perspective is a shield from self-pity. A new view allows new ideas, creative and alternative solutions, different thoughts to fuel our feelings.
Life is full of mountains. Journey on.