What’s Good About Being Challenged?

I just read a powerfully stimulating post by Slade Roberson at Shift Your Spirits. Read his latest post, What’s Wrong with What You Want?
Slade said, “Your most challenging moments are what defines you — your senses of empowerment and spiritual development become most apparent during the tests, trials, and tribulations.”

I believe he’s suggesting that when challenged, we show our true mettle because we are called then to rise up and meet the challenge.

This caused me to wonder. Is challenge natural? We often resist challenge, or at least the struggle that comes with it. But upon further reflection, I wonder if the stimulation within the call to action is what we craved all along. I think this is what we mean when we use the old saying, “It’s all good!”

For example, take the employee who abhors the lack of autonomy in his job. Doesn’t he really love to hate it so that he’ll eventually use the energy of that hate to finally make his move to the freedom of self-employment? Or take the freelancer who wants more work that she loves to do. Doesn’t she complain about the less challenging work so much that she stops the flow of it?

If challenge is natural, perhaps we could save ourselves some stress and struggle by simply making more authentic decisions and committing to following through. Perhaps the more direct route to getting what we want is to embrace the challenging situations in our lives by inviting them, instead of avoiding them.

So how about you? What’s most natural to you? Do you feel more yourself at ease or in action?

Could this change at how we look at challenge actually get us more of what we say we want?

If health and wealth is the natural state of affairs in the universe, then why do so many of us seem to make it so difficult to allow abundance in our lives?

Could it be that we actually want to be tested so much so that we create the necessary drama to rise above it? What do you think?


  1. Tom,

    Thanks for continuing my thought process and crediting me with the inspiration for this great post — that really made my week, man!

    I feel your thoughts uncover a path I didn’t necessarily go down — the concept of using the energy of challenge as a source of power. Actually, your example of the person using his dissatisfaction with his job as the seed of some future motivation is very interesting.

    I was originally addressing much more tragic circumstances — random events, mortal illness, etc — and simply trying to make the point that all the time and energy we spend on the idea of our personal evolution seems to ignore the undesirables, yet when is who you are at the deepest level, your highest self, more called upon?

    I really enjoyed reading where you’ve taken these thoughts — from a seed to weeds of awareness — I’m honored to see where you allowed this to grow.

  2. I read somewhere that we have suffering to help us build our character. Have you ever noticed how boring life can get when you don’t feel challenged? I believe that challenges spur us to action and introspection. If you aren’t happy, you are more likely to seek change.

    Patricia – Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworkers last blog post..True Independence Comes From In-dependence

  3. Viviana Sutton says:

    I confess: I love a challenge!!!! To a fault, in fact. I can recall events in my life during which I made decisions and chose paths solely because they represented a challenge. Enjoyable journey, yes, but I do wish I had been a bit more concerned with the destination.

    On the bright side, one of my favorite challenges is to turn around an experience or interaction with a person who is either prickly/difficult, or simply not someone I’m naturally drawn to like. I love to try to make a connection and challenge myself to find some common ground with that person. I’ve even found a few good friends that way.

    I’m with Patricia on discontentment as a catalyst for change–we’ve all been there.

  4. Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul says:

    I have to weigh in here from the spiritual perspective. Health, wealth, peace, one-ness … that CAN be the natural state. And as Patricia points out, we get bored with it. It’s the egoic Self that loves a challenge! The ego loves the fight. It gets stronger through being “tested.” We point towards what we’ve overcome and it adds to our sense of false “Self.”

    Our Spirit or Higher Self does not suffer. It is not challenged. It merely tirelessly continues pointing us in the direction of growth and learning.

    Discontentment is certainly a huge catalyst for change. I don’t think it has to be, though. It depends on whether we are a “carrot” or a “stick” kind of a person. Most of us need both – the stick of discontentment and the carrot of a better life ahead. Maybe our egos simply know that they will no longer be in charge if the world were full of carrots.


  5. I don’t know about the higher self, lower self or the in between self but I am the person who was discontented in work and quit to start my own business. In my own job I was being told I was “not a fit”. I was different than the other administrators and for some, that was a threat. But I am thrilled about my challenge of starting my own business. I have always wanted to do it and can’t wait for the new school year to start so I can go into action! With my business, I can be who I was created to be and not feel like I have to squeeze into someone else’s mold.

    I believe there is a group of closed mindset people who do not welcome challenges because too much is riding on their success or failure. In stead of seeing failure as an opportunity to learn, these folks see every challenge as proof that they are talented, intelligent, etc. If they fail, they have proven to the world that they weren’t as talented and intelligent as everyone had thought. These people are not willing to risk their image. Too much is at stake.

  6. Slade the honor is all mine. Your post is very rich and could be taken down many different explorations. It’s intrigues me to look for the good in every situation even in the midst of a very trying one. I love your observation that our highest self comes through in our greatest time of need. I’d love you to write more about being who you are and who you are becoming. Authenticity is something that most agree with yet few have a clear path in practice.

    Patricia I must be blessed I’ve been much more challenged than bored in my life. 🙂 In fact I don’t even know what bored feels like. Thank God. Challenges certainly do shake things up.

    Vivianna do you love challenge because of the excitement or the fact that it brings our your best, or something else? I can relate to that feeling. I used to love being challenged on the field of athletic competition the most. In fact I’m still yearning for a replacement to the thrills of rugby.

    Andrea I agree that health and wealth can be our natural state. In my youth I was never bored with my good health, perhaps I took it for granted. But now that I experience health challenges I’d take that boredom of perfect health! I buy everything your saying except the bit about false self. If we rise to the occasion and stand tall in the face of challenge without looking back or gloating I think we need to recognize that growth and feel good about it. That does not feel like resistance or false to me.

    Laurie you hit the key point by talking about how great you feel simply being your self. Break the mold and be as much Laurie as you can with abandon! In my book that’s a big part of why we are here to be ourselves and enjoy the company of others who support us.

  7. You know, I read somewhere something along these lines: “it’s not a good story if there aren’t any dragons”. I think any challenge we come across is a dragon, or three-headed dog, or however you want to characterize it, that we need to slay to move on to the next step of our journey.

    Marelisas last blog post..Finding Balance through the Four Elements: Fire, Water, Earth, and Air

  8. Viviana Sutton says:

    Ah, Tom–I wish I could say that it was all a well-intentioned aspect of my character, but sometimes it’s not. I can be too competitive, and that is the part I strive to overcome.

    Generally speaking, any time I used this type of motivation to accomplish a goal it has been a good outcome, and any time I have risen to a challenge simply for the challenge’s sake, no good has come of it. 🙂

    Viviana Suttons last blog post..What the Economy is Teaching Me

  9. When we understand why we rebel against a challenge we can understand how to use it to our advantage. I think it all comes down to emotional intelligence.

    When I became aware of this complaining, your right, I started using it to make my choices smarter and help my future. That’s why I started my blog to help me get started on creating my future career.

    Karl Staib – Your Work Happiness Matterss last blog post..The Art of Change – Interview with a Communication Expert

  10. Challenges are what we remember. And I think we remember them because it causes us to rise above. Sometimes the challenges defeat us, but in the end, we usually come out stronger than when we went in. I feel at ease when things are the status quo, but I also think that being “at ease” too much is not a good thing. Some of the challenges I face I really enjoy, and then there are others that I don’t like at all. But again, they are what I remember, and I always come out of them stronger than I went in.

  11. Hi Tom – Interesting post. Although we may not always enjoy it at the time, I suppose it’s healthy to be challenged and part of the learning process.

    Cath Lawsons last blog post..No More Bold Advice

  12. Marelisa slay the dragon or befriend it, either one works but I like your sense of adventure!

    Vivianna that seems easy enough to change. Just be sure that every challenge is met with a mutually beneficial intention. I like to say this. I want the highest good for all in this interaction.

    Karl from what I’ve read your blog is indeed your ticket to greater freedom and happiness. I’m looking forward to the day when you declare your freedom.

    Lance welcome you’re right we do remember the challenges. In that regard they are actually high points of our lives. Thanks for this thought I’m going to mull it further.

    Cath you made you laugh. 🙂 I love it when someone says interesting post because interesting can mean so many meanings. I do the same thing sometimes. 🙂


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