Ask Steve – Where Are You Struggling?

You’ve written much about your past failures and what you learned from them. You’ve also written that your life is going very smoothly today, both internally and externally. But surely there must be some areas of your life that you’re struggling with right now. What are they? Maybe your readers could help you if you told us about your own struggles.

I received a few variations on this question, so the phrasing above is a composite. I appreciate this question because it’s something I haven’t directly addressed here yet.

Typically I tackle my own challenges privately and then write about them when I feel I have an insight, solution, or story I feel is worth sharing. If I haven’t reached that point, then I tend not to share it publicly because I figured that wasn’t going to help anyone. I also have a private journal to work through my issues and a very supportive wife to discuss them with. She can be very good at pointing out my deficiencies sometimes. 🙂

After giving this some thought, I believe in retrospect that not sharing these parts of myself was a mistake. By not writing about my current struggles, I project an incomplete and inaccurate image, and I also deny myself the opportunity to invite other people’s help. I’ve written about many of my past struggles that have already been overcome, but that isn’t the same thing as sharing what I’m struggling with right now.

I’ll write separate posts to address some of my current struggles, especially since I’ve received additional “Ask Steve” questions about each of them. But to give a quickie answer for now, the general areas are money, parenting, and sex.

In all of these areas, I’m experiencing a similar pattern of uncertainty. The challenge is to clarify my own thoughts, beliefs, and values enough to be able to define what I want in a way that’s internally congruent with who I am. I’m good at achieving what I want once I know what it is, such as building this web site. But if I’m not clear about what I want, I’m stuck until I figure it out.

In these three areas, I’ve had to reject the obvious mainstream solutions. Those solutions worked OK for me at one time, but I can no longer apply them today because they’re incompatible with who I’ve become. For example, when you’re a child and you need money, you might ask your parents for an allowance. Problem solved. But if you’re 40 years old, that same solution is likely no longer valid, even though it used to work just fine. My old solutions to certain problems have been corrupted and no longer work, but I haven’t figured out new ones yet.

My intuition says one thing, and my logic says something entirely different. In such situations I know from experience that both are probably wrong. Somewhere there is a third alternative, but I don’t yet possess the level of understanding that would enable me to see it. In the past I’ve generally solved such problems by continuing to work on raising my own awareness until I’m able to view the problem from a new perspective which makes it solvable.

Nevertheless, these challenges do not worry or depress me. My attitude towards them is one of curiosity, wonder, and excitement. I know that in order to solve these problems, I must experience another shift in consciousness, and that shift is what really matters. The outward problems are merely symptoms of my current level of awareness. I’ve seen this pattern repeat itself over and over in my life. So for now I choose to continue enjoying the adventure as I gather more clues.

This entry is part of the “Ask Steve” series. See the original Ask Steve post for details, or view the Archives (July 2006) to peruse the entire series.