Yesterday I presented “From Stress to Success” at the Minnesota Lupus Foundation. All the people there have found courageous ways to deal with chronic illness.  But those illnesses can wear people down.

One woman said her chronic illness made her feel like she was pushing a boulder up a mountain.  Even though over the years she has found great strategies for dealing with the physical/emotional/mental stress (including knitting, walking every day with a friend at a pace that made sense for her, and singing in a choir), she still felt the life losses in her life keenly.  She felt she wasn’t able to deal with her illness with grace.

When I asked her what would help her deal with the situation in an easier way, she came up with the boulder image.  So I asked her if if she’d like to work with the image.

I asked her to close her eyes and to visualize this boulder she was trying to push uphill; to envision how round it was, its texture, its height and weight in as much detail as possible.

Then I asked her what she wanted to do with the boulder: vaporize it, blow it up, or something else entirely.

“Blow it up,” she said.

“What do you want to blow it up with?” I asked.

“My anger.”

“What form do you want your anger to take in order to blow it up?”

“A dirty look.”

So I asked her to direct the dirtiest look she could possibly imagine towards the boulder.

At first, there was a crack in the center, and then she said it just crumbled away to sand.

“What would you like to do with the sand?” I asked her.

“I’d like to use the sand to build steps towards what I want.”

I asked her what the most valuable thing she got from this.

“I remembered what you said about my body listening to what I was telling it.  I don’t want to push a boulder uphill.  I know now I can use this image again to get rid of the boulder, but I suspect the boulder might not come back.”

At the end she told me that before coming she felt hopeless.

“I came here for hope,” she said, “But I got so much more.”

If you feel like you’re pushing a boulder up a mountain, know that you, too, can transform the situation.

All you need is a little imagination…and a little hope.

Here’s hoping you can eliminate boulders and pursue your path with ease and grace!

Best wishes,

Elizabeth