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Easier or Stronger?


I saw this on Facebook this morning and it resonated with me. Yesterday was a rough day, and I remember thinking, “I just need to get through this because I don’t like it. What is the lesson I’m supposed to learn from this? I’m ready. I want to learn and I want to be stronger because I know this will come again.”

In this case, I chose to “Phone a friend” and, though she couldn’t fix the situation for me, she did show me great compassion and reminded me that I had the strength to do it myself. She let me know that I knew how to survive (solve) the situation (problem).

In the past, I might have said, “Why me?” or “Make it stop!” But, I’ve learned that this type of thinking doesn’t move me forward, and only puts me in the position of getting to repeat the life lesson over and over until I learn it! Now, I really don’t like “Karmic” situations (especially when the bank is involved), so I prefer to look at this through the lens of “Problems I can solve by using proper formulas.”

Let’s think about it in terms of numbers and letters.

Math problems can be hard until you learn how to solve them:

  • “Anything times zero is zero”
  • “Reduce to the lowest common denominator”
  • “Follow the order of operations”
  • “Standard Deviation is a way to tell approximately how much of the data will cluster around the mean.”

OOOPS. That last one was kinda hard.

Don’t like math? How about words? Grammar can be hard, if you don’t know the rules:

  • “I before E, except after C.”
  • “Chickens lay eggs; people lie down.” I’d be lying if I said I laid an egg.
  • “Don’t end a sentence with a prepositional phrase.” I wonder where that rule came from?
  • “ER not RE, unless you live someplace funny where they like to switch the letters, substitute ‘S’ for ‘Z’ and add an unnecessary ‘U’ after ‘O…”

Ignore that last one if you live below the equator or you have pictures of a royal family on your credenza.

But, back to the point: Once you know the secret (the formula), you can beat the situation (solve the problem) – or, at least, make it more manageable.

You know, I think math and grammar rules are useful in everyday life. Like…it’s good to put others before ourselves: “Alice and I went to the store.” Not “Me and Alice went to the store.” (We before me, including he, she and thee?)

It’s good to understand the order of operations, to solve one part of the problem first and then simplify to the lowest common denominator. “I eat too much and I am fat.” Let’s solve that problem with the order of operations: “I want to lose weight, so the first thing to do is determine what I’m eating and formulate a healthy eating program. Next, I need to purchase those foods and learn proper portions. Finally, I need to eat my breakfast, pack my lunch, and plan a healthy dinner.”

But, all of that can still seem hard, particularly when we get a little over-possessive and selfish about thing’s. We want what we want when we want it and we don’t care what anyone thinks. It can be really hard to get out of our own way – but that’s precisely the time we can do something for someone else. If we put others’ wants before our own, our own wants can seem less significant.

• • •

I have a feeling you’re not feeling what I’m saying here.

Okay…let me take a big step backward and return to the original thought behind this post: Do I want it to be EASIER or do I want to be STRONGER?

We’ve discussed that, in order to do something, it’s best to know the rules and understand how to solve problems. Each time we master a problem, it can be easier to solve next time – or, at least we are more confident in our ability to do it (and, as I have learned, self-efficacy is critical to our self-worth and self-esteem.)

How often have you heard yourself say, “Why is this so hard?” Especially when thinking about weight loss and weight management. Well, I think it comes down to perspective.

  • A knife can be really sharp and sometimes, we get cut. Do we really want that knife to be dull (so it can’t even cut milk), or, do we want to know how to safely and correctly USE that knife to accomplish what we need to do?
  • A propeller on an airplane can hurt you if you walk into it, but do you really want those blades to stop spinning, or do you want to learn to steer clear of the blades so the plane can take you where you want to go?
  • A chain saw can be really noisy and really dangerous – if you don’t know how to use it – but, do you really want to cut those logs for your fireplace with a hand saw?
  • Does it make sense to drive nails with a high-heel shoe, just so you won’t whack your thumb with a hammer?

(Okay, let’s ignore that last one because, I really don’t see anything wrong with it.)

The point of all this is, we can look at life as a bunch of hard problems that we can’t solve. Or, we can look at it as a series of problems we can solve, if we know the formulas and rules, know how to use the tools, and believe we can succeed.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to slice a turkey with a plastic spoon just because I think it might be safer (ever broken one of those sporks and cut your cagina? It would take too long, be inefficient, and frustrate me to no end.

Think that example was too easy? How about this: I don’t want weight management to be easy, or I will take it for granted and not be proud of my accomplishments. Oh boy, that one sounds really suspicious and doesn’t involve plastic utensils.

Look, I get it…we all want the Bariatric After Life™ to be easy — but if it were easy, what would that do for our self-worth?

Here’s what I know: I want to get stronger when I exercise and I want to feel better by making healthy food choices. I want to know I can deal with stressful situations at work (or at the bank). I want to feel good and strong and that’s not going to happen by running away from problems, ignoring the rules, not asking how to solve the problem in the first place, or not believing I can do it.

Ultimately, we all know that life is challenging and sometimes not a whole of fun. Sometimes we just want to plop into a corner and wait for it to all go away. But, it won’t go away – it will be there when our butt falls asleep because we were sitting on the hard floor, and it will be there when we get up and our legs tingle because the blood is returning to our feet – AND – it will be there whether or not we want it to be.

The question is: “What are you willing to do to get through those inevitable hard times?”

  • Are you willing to ask for help from those who have mastered the problem (are successfully living a life in recovery from obesity?)
  • Are you willing to follow the “order of operations” and do what you need to do face the challenges?
  • Are you willing to say, “I don’t want it to be easier – I want to be stronger?”

Only you can answer those questions, but for me? I hate being uncomfortable and repeating the same “mistakes” over and over and over. If I know certain things are going to happen, my job is to find a way to get through it so I can get over it.

As I used to tell my daughter, Hannah (she hated this): You can stop running into the wall because it hurts, or you can stop running into the wall because it’s not smart to run into the wall. Either way, just stop running into the wall.

The moral of that story is, life doesn’t have to be as challenging as we make it, if we are willing to learn the rules and solve the problems.

  • Know the rules.
  • Use the tools.
  • Solve in order of operations.
  • Have your friend on speed dial.
  • Ask for help.
  • Believe in yourself.

2+2 will always be 4 and there is no 29st of February (Not even in New Zealand…that’s for you, Sine).

What do you think? Are you running into the wall or are you looking for a solution to get beyond it? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts.

1 comment

1 SINE { 03.07.13 at 5:28 am }

I wanted to post this on 29st February but for some reason it flew by…..solution seeking. That’s what I’m doing. Im like, Is it broken? No? Stop fiddling with it. Yes it is? Ok let’s give myself a few options that may work better. Moving forward. Not getting stuck in the math.

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