When it comes to choosing paths in life, I’ve made it fairly clear that they are seldom a straight line.
Nope. Every path is going to have detours, obstacles, unexpected twists and turns. They can be quite an adventure.
When I explained how it’s important to flow like water, I also added the notion that a given life path is often more of a stream than a road.
Whatever metaphor you go with, there will be challenges, complications, and difficulties along the way. Much of this is due to external matters and influences over which you have ZERO control.
However — sometimes these occur because you stumble. To be sure, this can be literal and physical. But more often than not they’re mental and emotional issues.
Tripping yourself up
There are many ways to stumble along your path. While it’s easy to point to the external influences that trip you up, looking at those that come from within is much more complicated.
For me, this has been a matter of self-sabotage on more than one occasion.
What is self-sabotage? It is when you subconsciously do something that sabotages your work. For example, you start to be less diligent about your work and make stupid mistakes. Even when you redouble your efforts to find and correct them, they continue.
This can impact relationships, jobs, friendships, and everything else in your life and along your path.
No matter how good things are going or how much the path you are on is making you content, you find something that causes you to stumble. Something inside of you trips you up and takes you off your plotted course.
As infuriating as having an outside influence cause you to stumble along your path may be, it’s even more annoying when you do it to yourself.
Whatever the issue, it will impact your path. You will need to either correct whatever error was made and continue on; check to see if you need to alter the path and course-correct; completely leave the path you are on to choose another.
To be fair, yes, you can ignore what you stumble over. However, doing so often means it will recur. When that happens it’s usually worse on the second go around.
The other issue that often comes alongside ignoring the situation that causes you to stumble is blame.
Blame doesn’t do any good for anyone
American society in particular is obsessed with blame. Trump blames everyone who doesn’t agree with him for his failings — to the point that it’s way far beyond logic or reason. Business owners blame the economy for their inability to pay decent wages or health benefits. People blame their parents for screwing them up during their childhood.
Taking responsibility and being accountable for an action is far too rare. No, people would much rather point the finger and blame someone or something for the issues. It’s like blame removes the responsibility and makes a given issue another’s problem.
This, of course, is total bullshit. Nope, blame fixes nothing. Does blaming someone for something bad fix it? Not in my experience.
Things happen in your life that are way outside of your control or influence. When that idiot on his mobile phone rear-ends you on the road; the unexpected break-up happens; you leave work one evening to praise and return the next morning and get inexplicably fired; you had ZERO control over these.
Sure, you can blame that guy for hitting you, blame your lover for dumping you, blame your boss for canning you. And what does that get you? Nothing.
So maybe, instead, you should look to your culpability in the situation. What did you miss that might have helped you avoid this? Or, more importantly, what can you learn from this?
When you are the cause of your stumble, blaming someone or something else for it is beyond logic. Not only won’t that fix the issue, but it will also most likely make it more likely to be recurrent.
If I self-sabotage and cause myself to stumble, blame gets me nowhere. Instead, I need to be accountable for my sabotage, figure out why, and then do something about it.
Stumble and recovery
When you inevitably stumble along your path, ignoring it tends to worsen the issue. Instead, you have, as mentioned prior, three primary options along your path:
- Correct the problem. Fix whatever the matter is — big or small — and continue along the path you were traveling.
- Alter your course. It is possible, when you stumble, that you see something about the path you were on isn’t right. As such, you might need to change your course and redirect yourself along your way.
- Take a new path. You stumbled due to something inside of yourself. As you analyze it, you realize that the problem was the path all along. So now you have the option to choose a new one.
I have no doubt there are other options, but these three are the best simple ones I’ve encountered. Every experience you have in your life teaches you something. However, the lesson may not be obvious right away. It may take time to learn from what happened.
Examples of a stumble in my life
I have faced all three of these choices in my life. To help you better understand what I mean by stumbling due to internal influences, please allow me to share my experiences.
Correcting the problem
I had an agent for my first fantasy novel. For two or three years he made efforts to sell my book, but with no success. A friend, who was a professional editor, suggested my work could use a thorough edit.
Rather than blame the agent for his inability to sell my book, I took her advice and had it edited. What I learned from that experience both made me a much, much better writer — and taught ME how to be an editor, too.
Altering the course
After losing a job due to self-sabotage, I chose to focus on writing full-time. I got a lot of work done and started to blog daily. But the bills still needed to be paid.
I didn’t desire to go back to a full-time job but applied for one anyhow. They interviewed me — but not for the job I applied for. They read my resume, saw that I was an experienced writer, and hired me to rewrite their website content and other materials.
Presently I am still working this contract gig. It is extremely fulfilling, helps me pay the bills — and it lets me continue writing full-time.
Taking a new path
In college, I majored in theatre. It was my desire not to be an actor — but to be a director. Outside of the theatre department itself, I ran the drama club and directed (and produced) a half-dozen plays. In the department, funny enough, I was something of an outcast.
I really thought having my own theatre company and directing plays would be great. Wasn’t long outside of college I realized I didn’t desire to be on that path.
Granted, it took me more than a decade to choose a path to walk. But I have — and Pathwalking changed my life for the better.
In all of the above cases, it wasn’t outside influences that made me stumble — it was me. I caused myself to stumble — and learned from the experience.
There isn’t a doubt in my mind that I will stumble again — but I will eagerly anticipate what lesson I might learn from that experience.
It is unavoidable that you will stumble as you make your way. This may be due to both external AND internal influences.
What do you do when you stumble along your path?
Know that you are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done our thoughts, feelings, and actions matter, as does what you do when you stumble along your path.
Originally published at http://titaniumdon.com on July 22, 2020.