Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Overcoming a Challenge – 6 Easy Steps

"Catch me if you can!"

The kittens—my favorite personal development coaches—are at it again!  It seems they have endless teachings in store for me.

My husband is a natural with animals of all types and sizes.  Not so me.  I usually cringe whenever an animal gets anywhere near to me. So in the beginning, my husband nurtured our understandably apprehensive six-week old kittens splendidly.  I remained the awkward bystander, making occasional gestures of friendliness while also being easily put off by any small sign of cringing or turning away.  “I’m not good at this” was my standard and reinforcing mantra.

When my husband went away on a trip, I was suddenly flung into the role of “mom.” Even worse, I was faced with the nerve-wracking prospect of taking the wild ones to the vet.

I began to stress a full week ahead. Now you might find stressing out about this ridiculous.  But seriously, these two masterminds often refuse be caught.  All I could see was visions of cats running all about.  Maybe years of high-stress living have rewired my brain, but getting the kittens into the pet kennel seemed an insurmountable act.  At least, Penelope Trunk will understand.  Navigating the lines and bureaucracy at the DMV is enough to cause her a near panic attack.  You see, we each have our own set of vulnerabilities.  It’s far better to know what they are so you can learn to work around them and succeed.

As the anxiety began to grow, I suddenly realized I needed a fix and I put on my thinking cap.  I instituted the following strategies, which can help you too when you are in a tight spot. Whenever you encounter a challenge of any size, just tick through these six easy steps.  You can transform any difficulty with practice and perseverance.

Overcoming a challenge in 6 easy steps

1.  Attitude adjustmentJonathan Wells at Advanced Life Skills tells us to “expect success and nothing less.”  Because what you expect is what you get.

My anxiety was beginning to mount because I was creating all the wrong pictures in my head…  Kittens in inaccessible places like under the sofa or low glass shelves.  Kittens giving me the “look,” which says in no uncertain terms, “You are not getting anywhere near me.”  Me endlessly chasing after the kittens as they gleefully elude me.

In less than one moment’s time, I made a simple but critical decision:  I am smarter than two small kittens!  I will indeed succeed! This new confidence alone saved me from a week of low-level anxiety and failure to complete the task.  Whatever your challenge, start by deciding you will indeed succeed.

Of course, knowing your vulnerabilities provides the foundation for overcoming them.  When you see the pattern, you implement the new approach or the new message. Over the next days, whenever an old picture of failure came to my mind, I replaced it with a new image of success.  It takes determination to do this, but it may be easier than you might think. What a relief to believe in success!

2. Create a plan. Confidence is critical to success, but you can’t bank on a positive attitude alone.  Confidently leaping ahead without a good plan is a recipe for falling flat on your face.  Taking the time to visualize a coherent strategy is necessary to obtain a positive result.  Otherwise, you end up winging it and far less likely to succeed.

I needed to think out exactly how I would get the kittens into their pet taxi and not just hope for the best.  All the following steps constituted my plan.  They same ones are likely to be key in your plan of attack too.

3. Perfect timing. As the saying goes, “timing is everything.”   The kittens are most vulnerable in the afternoon when they are sleepy or totally asleep.  I timed the vet appointment accordingly.  How will timing effect your results?  You may not always be

Sleepy and unsuspecting

able to control the timing, but when you can, plan so that timing is on your side.

4. Make friends with the enemy. As long as I viewed the challenge as “me vs. the kittens,” I was bound to fail.  This view alone creates a baseline of tension.  Banish the idea of “enemy” from your mind.  Find common ground and visualize cooperation.  Learn and respect the “opposition’s” idiosyncracies.

My next step was to get over my own insecurities and establish a sense of trust and friendship with the kittens. In that regard, feeding them automatically put me in their favor.  I also spent time every morning and evening relaxing on the lanai (deck)—the kitten’s penthouse—allowing the pair to set the pace and gradually get closer to me. After just a few days, they were both clamoring to sit in my lap, climb all over me as though I were a tree, and play at my feet during my daily Qigong routine.

Bodhi, the mellow one, warmed up quickly. Chitta still retains her wild streak.  She loves to lounge in my lap, but doesn’t like to be picked up or petted.  And both will still play uncatchable whenever they wish.   But I am even getting trickier and better at catching them!

5. Practice. A plan is just a conceptual model.  You have to try it out in advance or conduct a rehearsal to see if it will really work.

The kittens love the pet taxi, which is a regular part of their furniture.  As the vet appointment drew close, I practiced picking up the wilder kitten during her afternoon siesta and placing her in the pet taxi.  These successful trials built up my confidence.  I can do this!  This is a breeze! I also examined the pet taxi to learn how to close and latch the gate properly to avoid any fumbling and potential quick escapes.

6. Know the key leverage point. Take time in advance to suss out the key leverage point for any problem or situation.  Never enter into a situation without an effective back up plan or secret weapon.

There’s no question about it: when it comes to the kittens, food is the key.  Any time of night or day, food functions like a magnet that will draw them right into my trap. Food was my ultimate backup plan should all else fail.

The strategy worked!

The happy ending was a far more relaxing week for me, great fun and relaxation with the kitties, and an easy trip to the vet.

When the big day came, I orchestrated a quiet and uneventful afternoon.  Granted my heart did pound rapidly as I approached the moment of “capture.” I strongly remind myself to breathe deeply.  Luckily, Bodhi was already sleeping in the pet taxi!  A bit more than coincidence, I think.   Then it took just a moment to scoop up the wild one and swiftly place her inside.

The combination of confidence and an effective plan sent the right message to the kittens.  They cooperated beautifully and the whole affair was far easier for them too.

I’m completely in love with these two kittens (another whole story), and enormously grateful for all the life lessons they constantly bring my way.

If you liked this article, please share the link with others.  Thanks very much! Sandra



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  1. So wonderful to have a plan for stressful situations-and so nice to share with others. Thank you! Big life lesson……so nice to view it that way.

    • Sandra Lee

      Hi Lori,

      Thanks for your sweet words. It is helping me to create frameworks for working with stressful situations. Somehow it helps let some air out of the baloon. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by. All the best to you.

  2. I continue to be amazed at the life lessons that are available to us via house pets. Thanks for sharing the kitten references. Don’t laugh but I watch “Dog Whisperer” for the people lessons. As Cesar would say, there’s nothing like calm, assertive energy to keep a pack (or company) on the right track!

    • Sandra Lee

      Susan, People watching is also a great way to learn lessons! Cesar definitely had the right take on leadership! I see you have made some great changes on your blog and you are using my favorite theme, too. Glad you are enjoying some vacation time too.

  3. Hi, Sandra. This was delightful! You’ve offered a wonderful illustration to go along with your lessons, making them that much more memorable. My current teachers are my horses and a betta fish, though I’ve had the requisite dogs and cats, too. And wildlife. I learn SO much from them! Thanks for sharing your wonderful story.

    • Sandra Lee

      Welcome Julie and thank you for your encouraging words.

      I see from your beautiful blog how much you enjoy falling in love with life all over again and your wonderful connection with nature and all these marvelous teachers from fishes to horses and more.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it so much.

  4. I missed this one somehow! Kittens can be very wily and hard to find. Luckily you studied their habits and vulnerabilities. I’m glad you bonded with them too. Great story. 🙂

  5. Hi there,

    Today happened to be my third trip to the vet (last shots) and by following my own advice it went so smoothly – even better than last time! Like you say, kittens can be very wily and hard to find. The assistant actually said that cats have ESP and especially when living outside will be more difficult to find when they get the “vet” vibe! We have bonded very well and I am totally in love with those rascals!

    Thanks so much for including the link in the Live Richly Roundup #4. All the best to you!

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