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Step 2 in Designing a Meaningful Life: Explore Your Gravel Pit

Part 2 in a series. Click here to read Step 1 in Designing a Meaningful Life: Start Where You Are

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“Make insight your priority… Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom, set your heart on a life of understanding… if you make insight your priority and won’t take no for an answer… God gives us wisdom free.”

– Proverbs 2

What is in your gravel pit?

Everyone has a gravel pit of some kind in their background, whether it is the scars from childhood or the constant disappointment and despair in the present.

It may be the result of continuous scolding as a kid growing up with little encouragement. Perhaps there were constant comparisons with others or name-calling by other kids. Perhaps you were given a nickname that was hurtful or belittling.

When we take time to examine what is in our gravel pit, we can heal old wounds and replace negative self-talk with affirming statements.

Step 2 – Exploring your gravel pit

Within our gravel pits we find many things of little significance or things that might deter us from taking more purposeful steps. But there are also things of significance if we are willing to look for them.

Within the rocks and deep crevices, we can find the capacity for great potential and promise.

It can be discouraging to reflect or revisit hurtful things from our past or think about the doubts and insecurities created by them. But until we take ownership, we will not be able to make meaningful changes.

We can’t run away from mistakes or bad choices. Neither can we run away from the harm others may have inflicted on us. There are no quick fixes. If we get stuck in anger, hatred, or retribution, we will be unable to move forward.

Acceptance allows us to let go of what isn’t working and is the precursor to making new decisions. It means we can stop denying or running away from what is happening or has happened.

Each person’s gravel pit will be different. What life has handed us will require different approaches to create peace, hope, and contentment and the motivation to move forward.

gravel in the mountains

On a piece of paper write at the top, My Gravel Pit. Go over the following questions and list all the things that trip you up or keep you from achieving your goals.

1. What losses, hurts or tragedies have scarred your life’s landscape?

Perhaps it was a tough childhood, ongoing unresolved family issues, or a deep wounding to your spirit and sense of self.

Examples: resentment, left-over anger from childhood, lack of nurturing and care growing up, parent’s divorce, etc.

How do they continue to create obstacles in your life today?

We are not our past, nor our pain. Things may have happened to us, but they do not define us unless we allow them to.

2. What things from your past are you running away from, resisting, denying, or ignoring?

If we don’t face our pain, we can’t move through and beyond it.

What labels, negative self-talk or childhood criticisms do you continue to use to describe yourself?

While we need to accept our past, we do not need to accept what was harmful or damaging to our self-worth.

3. What do you need in order to accept?

For example: continuing to hold resentment will continue to cloud everything you see and limit you from exploring new ways of doing things. Forgiveness releases us from that ongoing pain. Remember, forgiveness is for you.

What current problems are you putting Band-Aids on instead of looking for resolutions?

Identify your quick fixes: alcohol, drugs, pain pills, sex, porn, TV, food, etc.

Quick fixes are like Band-Aids. They may stop the bleeding for a short while, but they don’t resolve anything. Band-Aids only last for a short time and constantly need replacing until the actual problem has been addressed.

When we look honestly at our problems, we can find ways to make things work for us instead of against us.

4. How would you identify your personal stumbling blocks?

For example, not following through, constantly listening to your internal critic, difficulty communicating, not trusting your judgment or believing in yourself, difficulty making decisions, etc.

5. What is your personal belief about what you can and cannot do?

Why do you believe that? What keeps you from believing you can make a difference or that you can turn your life into something positive, pleasant, and rewarding?

This is just a quick preview of how you currently see life. What you are looking for are those things that continue to cloud the future, keeping you stressed and feeling stuck so you can eliminate them. Until you are aware, you will not be able to make corrections.

Before we can create a design, we need to honestly evaluate what we are working with, what is currently happening, and how we are dealing with it.

This exercise is not intended to discourage you. Instead, if you can accept both the positive and negatives of you we are and how you are currently engaging with life, these things can’t sneak up and sabotage your efforts to create a new workable and meaningful design for life.

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