Knocking Down Obstacles

It’s been a while. I hate having to report that there’s not much to report, or that I’m trying out some solutions and don’t have any good description of what’s up just yet. So I don’t. That’s about to change, though.

Obstacles to your progress can be sorted into three categories. Yeah, yeah, you can subdivide them until the cows come home, but at the biggest level, there are a trio of options that you absolutely must sort things into, and do it honestly.

I have, and have dealt with, all three, so I’m not getting high and mighty with you. This is real, and ignoring it will prevent any sort of progress.

The jumble of crap between you and where you want to be is made of distinct, but probably interrelated, obstacles. Weakening any of them will help weaken and remove the others. The removal of some of them can pull the support from a network of others, and you go roaring through the debris. Your problem and mine is that their interwoven nature lets them support each other. It looks like an unbreakable wall. Where do you start?

Start with sorting them. Isolate each from its neighbors, ignoring for now their connections to other issues. Each can be put into one and exactly one of these categories:

  1. Unchangeable. You have permanent heart or lung damage that prevents normal cardio exercise. Your metabolism was destroyed early on by lithium to treat your bipolar disease. You are bipolar. You are very short. You are too young. Whatever it is, and it may not be something that gets in the way of others who have it, it gets in the way of you, and it can’t be changed, just endured forever or until it slowly changes on its own.
  2. Impeding. You have a (healable) injury. You hover at the poverty line. You weigh way too much. You don’t know how. Whatever it is, it exists between you and your best self, and it must be removed mostly or completely in order for you to proceed.
  3. Inconvenient. You’re tired. You’re hooked on potato chips or a video game or beer. Your demanding friends or TV series list or consecutive sports seasons to watch takes up your time. You haven’t found a course or learning that you like or an exercise method or good eating habits you can stick to. Whatever it is, it pretends to impede your progress, but in truth it’s bad habits and dodging what you know to be right and good.

All of these pretend to be more of a problem than they are. Inconvenience whines to you that it’s a real problem, and if you give in, it suddenly is one. Impediments present themselves as unremovable issues, but if you take the panic from them and look at them directly, they will almost always reveal themselves as something that can be knocked down, and often a linchpin to removing other problems. Even unchangeable things can usually be worked around. Yes, a height of 5’8″ will preclude one from a career in professional basketball. Yes, the nonexistence of midichlorians or any of their effects pretty much prevents you from being a functioning Jedi. The fully realized version of you won’t have a problem with that, though: you will become what you are made to be.

Here’s an example I know pretty well: Me

That bloody-eyed picture is of my eye, and taken maybe an hour before I posted this. Looks better than it did on Friday. The headaches I mentioned before got worse and more frequent, and to make a long story short, after several tests and trials, no one knows what’s causing them. And then the blood vessel burst in my eye. That’s happened before a couple times, always when I’m under an unusual amount of stress, but this was by far the worst. The sum of the symptoms suggested a few things which would be pretty dire: a growing aneurysm, auditory nerve tumor, cyst, carotid blockage. Any of those would be bad, and some could actually kill me in the middle of a set. I didn’t even know if push-ups would cause the eye problem again and horrifyingly worse.

That prevented me doing more than low-grade exercise for over a month, halting my progress, clobbering my goals, and showing me just how much I’ve come to enjoy lifting. It was a serious impediment that threatened to actually be a permanent, perhaps unchangeable problem that I had no idea how to work with.

Many tests later, the problem is definitely none of the items I just listed. Exercise won’t kill me, mere push-ups are known as safe, and I can get back to it at last.

Still don’t know what the cause is, though, and the splodey-head effect is still there. The current medical guess is high blood pressure, in spite of my numbers being better than they once were when I didn’t have headaches from it. A couple days ago I asked what I should do about my circular problem: blood pressure spikes cause headaches/blood vessel bursts; to lower blood pressure I need to lose weight; to lose weight I need real exercise; serious exercise causes a blood pressure spike. They gave me a drug for the problem, and while I like neither having to take it nor how it makes me feel, I’m on it until I can get things under control by better means. Hey, whatever motivates you makes you stronger. Unless it kills you, of course.

So here we have an impediment-level obstacle that puffed itself into I’m Gonna Kill You scariness to look unfixable. It’s not gone, but the method of knocking it down is known, and taking it down will advance several other goals into the bargain.

As an additional problem, I pulled the lower tendon on my left bicep shortly before the headache problem became preventative. I have to be careful and actively work to heal it, but it’s an impediment to remove, and I’m removing it.

Sort Correctly

The biggest mistake people make in looking at why they aren’t moving toward the life they think they want is mistaking inconveniences for impediments. “I don’t have time” is sometimes a valid problem. And by sometimes I mean rarely. Almost never. The time you spend keeping up with some show or team is time not spent advancing your cause. “But I’m tired,” comes the whine, “I need a mental break.” No, you probably don’t. In fact, not taking a break means you’ll be less likely to even want one the next time.

Everything in your life will improve if you simply disallow inconvenience to masquerade as impediments. Your self-discipline will almost automatically improve. You’ll get more done, and be more satisfied with your life. You’ll feel like you have more elbow room in your own brain. The ripples expand in ways hard to believe for those who haven’t done it.

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