Overcoming Obstacles

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place. And I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.” Rocky Balboa


At some stage or other many of us will understand what Rocky means in the above quote. Life isn’t a simple stroll in the sun for us, it’s tough going and it presents obstacles in our path all the time. Dealing with and overcoming these obstacles isn’t easy but far from impossible. There are different ways to deal with our own individual obstacles and I’ll simply give some ideas that I use in my own case.

For the past 2 years, I have had a knee injury that has left me missing pretty much all of the 2011, 2012 and most of the 2013 GAA seasons and feeling a lot of discomfort in day to day living. I have undergone surgery twice previously (and am having some more minor surgery again this week) to try and cure the problem. I have had times where I’d experience pain when simply walking around at home and the injury has become a constant in my life for the last 27 months. As a result I have had to work on overcoming this obstacle, both in the physical sense through rehabilitation exercises, and mentally by employing coping mechanisms to ensure I continue to get better.

Now, I know that many people are suffering much worse than I am, and that I am extremely lucky in comparison to what some people have to deal with, but I can only offer my own experience of dealing with my obstacle, much like every person can only explain their own situation.

So what are the ways I used to try overcome my obstacle?

Well surrounding yourself with good people is vital. Whether your obstacle is physical, mental or otherwise, being around people who support you, offers you guidance, listens to you and stays positive is critical to overcome any obstacle.

Living in the present moment is critical also. Overcoming obstacles require you to deal with the situation as it is right now, not in the past or into the future, right now in the present. You have to take responsibility for what you can control. You can control your mindset every day towards the problem. You can control your attitude: Do you set small improvement goals or do you apportion blame for your problem elsewhere. Do you seek out the opportunities that lie in your obstacle or feel despondent about the opportunities it takes away?

You have to be resilient. In the face of difficult times, you must work to survive and thrive.  This is hard work, but showing resilience is really important in overcoming the problems you face.

I’m not the only person who ever hurt their knee, and you’re unlikely to be the only person ever who faced the obstacle your facing, so how you deal with the challenge is the important thing. Ultimate success in overcoming the obstacle is determined by your attitude to it.

In 2001 South African swimmer Natalie du Toit lost her left leg below the knee when a car hit her on her scooter. A major problem for a swimmer you’ll agree. In 2002, just 1 year later, she swam the 800-meter freestyle in the Commonwealth Games alongside able-bodied athletes without the aid of a prosthetic limb. Her attitude certainly helped her overcome her physical limitations. There are loads more examples of people overcoming incredible obstacles. One thing they’ll have in common is their attitude to dealing with the obstacle. Stephen Hawking is another who springs to mind; the incredible obstacles placed in his path didn’t stop him having a major influence on the science and mathematics world.

Attitude is key when overcoming obstacles. You either decide to tackle it head on and overcome it step by step or as Rocky says, you can get beat to your knees and stay there if you let it.

Overcoming obstacles is not easy for any of us. If it were, there would be no such thing as struggle or pain.  Life isn’t lived in such a fantasyland however. We have to be strong in order to move forward. Surrounding myself with good people, living in the present as much as possible, being resilient, having the attitude that I will overcome it and staying positive helps me keep moving forward.

I’d be thrilled if it helped you to do likewise. 

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