Last autumn my brother in law took my family rock climbing. We went to the beautiful “City of Rocks” in Idaho. “The City” as it is called by climbers, is world renowned for its varied routes and difficulty levels for all climbers. I’m not a great climber but enjoy the adventure of it and just being outside with the family. Our first climb was up the back side of a huge outcropping of rock called, the bathtub. One by one each member of our group climbed the face and I noticed that one specific point in the climb was particularly difficult for everyone and if they made it past that point, they made it to the top but if they sat there at that point for too long, they would grow weary and either fall or choose to be lowered back down. In climber speak, this point in a climb is called the “crux” and this feeling that was displayed by the climbers is called ambivalence.
I’ll assure you, ambivalence is the crux of every human climb! That little voice that says, I do but I don’t, I will but I won’t.” On one side lies apathy and the other, commitment. One is easy but uninspiring. The other requires a moment of serious effort but yields fulfillment and new horizons!
A crux can also be defined as an essential point requiring a resolution and ultimately resolving an outcome. It both needs a resolution and resolves a problem! It is the “tipping point,” if you will.
Are there any areas of your life that present a “crux” for you? Maybe it is exercising or eating right. Maybe it is yelling at the kids or improving your productivity at work. It could be decreasing procrastination or improving your punctuality. Maybe it’s putting down your cell phone to connect more with your kids.
Whatever it is, we all experience these feelings of “I know what to do and how to do it. I want to change but it is hard and I’m not sure I want to endure the struggle yet.”
1. Know your why.
Why does it matter to you? If you don’t have a strong why, any task that stretches your ability will cause you to simply give up.
2. Learn. Sometimes we lack the knowledge or ability… yet.
Sometimes, as parents and people, we get hung up and stuck on something because we simply do not have the ability to do it yet. We have not put the time and effort into the process to be able to do what we would like to do. So we must first learn how to do it and acquire the strength and skill to do it. This may require reading, study, finding someone else that has done it, and/or a lot of practice.
3. Relax and use your strengths.
In climbing almost everyone makes the mistake of tensing up and trying to climb almost completely with their arms. They spend all their priceless energy flexing muscles that are not being used and yanking and pulling themselves in awkward positions and directions. The first time I climbed with my brother in law, he started laughing at me and said, “Hey dude, you can use your legs too. They are awfully heavy just hanging around like that.” In a similar way, when we are challenged with ambivalent obstacles and feelings in life, we try to use sheer will power alone without really evaluating what our strengths and supports are. We tense up, grit our teeth and try to pull through with legs dangling behind. It’s important to stop and relax and then to ask for help, or utilize other strengths that might help us complete our task with greater efficiency.
4. I can do anything for a minute!
Each of us has a physical, mental and emotional threshold for what we are capable of. The truth is that that threshold is usually higher than we go. I’ve found that a powerful technique to push those thresholds is to challenge myself with the statement, “I can do anything for a minute.” When I get to a point where things are difficult I try to maintain it for a designated, short period of time. I’ve found I can maintain most everything for at least a minute with only a few exceptions.
5. Write it down.
Write down your goal and your why so you can review it and continue to encourage yourself. Stay accountable and measure your progress if you can. Little progress becomes monumental and encouraging when we write it down so that we can actually physically see it.
6. Try again tomorrow.
Think of failed attempts as success in strength training. When we repeat something, it gets easier. Don’t become discouraged. Rest up and do it again. Recognize the improvements that come with each revolution of the cycle.
Question: What are your “cruxes” as parents? How have you overcome personal cruxes?
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