Ripples #1031: Obstacles as Opportunities!

Ripples #1031: Obstacles as Opportunities!
Feb 25, 2019
Celebrating 20 Year of Ripples: 1999-2019!


I should be content to look at a mountain for what it is and not as a comment on my life.
-David Ignatow, shared by Teri in Santa Rosa, CA


Your perception of obstacles makes a difference. Some people see obstacles as a puzzle to solve. Some see obstacles as an opportunity to grow. Others see obstacles as threats. Still others see obstacles as meaning they cannot succeed. Your view of the barriers to achieving your goals affects how you react.
–Dr. Karyn Hall, shared by Bob in Texas (via Project Happiness)


I first spied today’s pebble in a Facebook post from Teri, a Cal Poly parent I’ve enjoyed connecting with (thanks to her husband and son’s adventures in taking selfies with “famous people!”). I messaged her to find out what prompted her to post the quote, and here was part of her reply:

“I was in the middle of one of those episodes in my life where things seemed horrible, terrible, no good, very bad all around and suddenly I realized I was blaming myself for things others do and say that likely have nothing to do with me, and also trying to control or fix what is not my responsibility to even engage in. And this just spirals into the mud and muck of insecurity where I become someone I don’t want to be, and seriously would never hang out with on purpose!”

This isn’t to say that some of the challenges Teri is facing aren’t mountain-sized; I happen to know that she and her family have been dealing with some pretty big stuff. What I like about the quote, and what I like about Teri’s perspective, is that they gently remind us to avoid making difficulties even worse by personalizing them. A few years ago I picked up a really useful saying while hanging out with my buddies at Recovery International: “Sometimes people do things THAT annoy us, not TO annoy us.” It’s also true that sometimes blechy stuff just happens even if we haven’t done anything to cause it.

Teri seems to be wired for resilience–something I noticed when she explained how quotes and poetry often help her when she’s struggling: “They can scold me in the most loving way, shock me into righting myself, and remind me to laugh at myself then turn to wonder. Kind of like having my wise, beloved Great Grandmother Catherine at my side.”

Whatever mountains you may be climbing this week, I invite you to tackle the challenges with your best self by setting aside any temptation to get bogged down in catastrophizing and personalizing. It’s okay to rest, and sometimes it helps to grumble a bit just to get it out of your system. Then hop up and embrace the obstacles as opportunities to grow!

The Ripples Guy
p.s. If you find yourself needing more frequent splashes of inspiration than our weekly Ripples emails provide, we post a daily splash every day on LinkedIn, Twitter, and in Team Ripples, our official Facebook Group. For inspiration on demand, visit, a portable Ripples Pond that provides a random splash of inspiration whenever you want!

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