Self-discovery is like hiking.

It requires a sturdy pair of boots.

Why? Because the terrain is sometimes rugged, sometimes challenging, and sometimes exciting.

Maybe that’s why people find it so difficult.

Think about it.

To change old habits, you have to go through a process of self-discovery. This process is challenging at times. Take losing weight. You know what foods to eat and certainly what foods not to eat. Nevertheless, you are met with opportunities to make one choice over another. A choice that will either help you achieve your goal over time or a choice that won’t. Like hiking, with every turn comes with it the possibility of a new challenge. Maybe it’s a steep inclined or a rock scramble. Whatever the problem it requires something of you.

Obstacles are always a part of self-discovery and change. It is through the meeting of, and dealing with, these challenges that self-discovery ensues.

The #1 obstacle to self-discovery and lasting change is your perception.

In his book The Obstacle Is the Way, Ryan Holiday discusses how perception is the way to overcome all obstacles. If we think something is hard, it is. If we perceive something is challenging it is. I love Ryan’s advice. He says, “View the problem through a different lens.” In other words, become more objective about a challenge rather than subjective. See the obstacle from a different perspective. By doing so, we can rise above it and see possibilities where there was once an obstacle. Ryan approaches the idea of obstacles from a stoic’s philosophy, a rational and action-oriented response to problems.

When having to choose between fast food because it’s easy and something healthy like lean proteins and vegetables we convince ourselves that the choice for fast food is a good one. We use the three common obstacles.

Three common obstacles we perceive get in the way:

Time: We never have enough or the perception that things like cooking take to long. (see blog post from last week)

Money: Some of you believe that nutritious food costs more. It doesn’t. The truth is if you eat healthy foods you will likely eat less. You will feel more satiated, and over time you won’t crave carbohydrates. Suggestion: Shop at international grocery stores, the produce is way cheaper.

People: The excuse that other people influence our choices. (News flash, your kids don’t need macaroni and cheese. Side note, just because it’s orange does not mean it’s a vegetable.) When we define our food lane and stay in it, we make healthier choices. Our healthier choices begin to influence our friends, family, and children. Over time they will make healthier choices as well.

Let’s face it without self-discovery you’ll never change your relationship to food. To go on a journey of change and self-discovery, you have to be ready for the challenges. Lace up those hiking boots.

S.W.A.T. that thought!
top What you’re doing and take a breath.

Ask yourself some questions:
How can I overcome this obstacle?
What is another way of viewing the situation?
Am I rationalizing my behavior because of my perception of time, money, or people?
Is what I’m facing really a challenge or am I perceiving it that way?
Have just told myself this story for so long that now I believe it?

Take Action:

Try a new way of thinking about obstacles. For one day just try a new behavior. If it doesn’t work, no problem try something else tomorrow.

The beauty of a hike is there will always be obstacles to practices your problem-solving skills. When you do, you will learn more about yourself then if you just keep doing the same old things.


Susan Macey PhD

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Make sure to check out my previous blogs if you haven’t already:
–  Time is like a black hole.
Diets are like amusement parks. 

1 thought on “Self-discovery is like hiking.”

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