Everyday we have to face all kinds of challenges. It seems it is part of our life. Normally there are three types of challenges: 1. a thing can challenge you. 2. another person can challenge you. 3 you can challenge yourself. The outcome of challenge depends on how we view and response to the challenge – negative or positive.
When looking up the word “challenge” in the dictionary, we can find many items of explanation. And each of them shows us the different aspects of this word in varied circumstances. The word can be meaningful only when it is put in a specific condition. It is interesting that these items provide many inspirations on how to deal with challenge.
The first meaning is “to invite someone to compete against”. This one tells us that only when we invite a challenger to compete with us, and he/she accepts the invitation, can there be a challenge! If we don’t invite, or nobody accepts the invitation, the challenge will not follow. You may say that you are not going to invite anyone/anything to challenge yourself, but your mind does. When you try to keep a precious vase in perfect condition, you are inviting the impermanence of a vase to compete with your expectation of permanence. You may say that you are not going to invite anyone to challenge you, but it is also not necessary to accept another’s invitation, it doesn’t mean you have to keep silent, but both of them need a tranquil mind.
It is really hard not to receive the “invitation”! So, let’s see what the second meaning of challenge can teach us - “to stop and demand official proof of the name and intentions of someone”. This one implies us that any challenge must pass the proof of our mind. When we are inviting others to challenge, we should demand the reason and outcome. If it will bring anger, fear or anxiety, we should stop it. When we are invited, we should ask what it is and what it will cause. If it will involve ourselves into negative emotion, we should stop it.
The key point of not accepting an invitation is the third meaning of challenge – “to doubt/question whether something is right or not”. If we just follow the inertia of accepting an invitation of challenge as normal, there’s no opportunity to stop it. The doubt itself is already a stop, and then there will be more space and time to survive from the challenge.
And another meaning of challenge – “to test/stimulate one’s ability”, is to remind us that every challenge can be a chance to stimulate our capability to deal with challenge! And sometimes, we need to challenge ourselves actively to make progress. But don’t make an active challenge into a negative challenge. And remember, your mind is always the real and the only challenger!