My imagination sometimes gets away with me. I figure I could make that propensity become strength. Here's a game I play that has helped me look at my weaknesses candidly, puts them into a healthy perspective, and provides me a firm platform for my response. This particular perspective became part of my response plan when I feel overwhelmed, or when I recognize I am not entirely in control. This is the story I use as a framework to help me step back and approach any challange from a position of strength. With this view I am prepared to do what needs to be done, rather than reacting as a victim. I approach with the goal of building and growing, not just remediating the immediate need.

This mindplay works for me, but you can create something for yourself that easily arrests and holds your attention. Set a stage that allows you to witness and respond.

Imagine with me.

You are standing next to your foundation. It is the foundation upon which you can stand and see your world. But today you have come down to inspect your foundation. As you climb down, you find at your feet a stone. Looking around you find there is a whole pile of them. Hundreds of granite stones just a bit larger than a loaf of bread. You bend over, and with not a little exertion, lift it. Feel the abrasion on your hands as you lift, feel its weight. It is substantial.

You scratch its corner along the concrete of the foundation and find it is stronger than the concrete of which your foundation is made.

As you inspect the scratch from the brick, your attention is drawn to holes all along the sides of your foundation. They look like they have been chewed and clawed into being. Something has been scratching at the foundation for years. Perhaps the rock in hand will fill one of the holes? You find the brick doesn't fit one of the holes perfectly. But it is close.

You look for the cause of the damage to your foundation. You see nothing of ill intent. But something does catch your attention. It was a bald tail, being pulled around the corner of the foundation.

You follow it around to find, to your horror, hundreds of rats chewing and scratching away at your foundation. With their bright red eyes, they look at you for just a second, then go right back to scratching and clawing at your foundation. You freak out and run back around the corner.

You are angry. This is your foundation! The place where you stand to see your world. The rats have to go! You remember the stone. You steel your courage and toss the stone around the corner like a grenade, hoping to hit something. You hear squeals, and then silence. You peek around the corner and are disappointed to see there are no casualties. What you do see though is the tip of the last naked tail disappearing behind the farthest corner.

You follow it around the corner and again find the rats. Again, they look at you for a second, and then go back to digging and scratching. This time you find the rats apathy a little disrespectful (I guess their clawing at your foundation isn't enough?). You go back around the corner and pick up the stone you threw. You lob it again. This time it is right at the lot of them. No luck. No casualties. They squeal and run around the corner. You pick up the brick, go around the corner and attempt to crush them by throwing it in the middle of the swarm of rats again. Lamentably after every throw, there are no wounded. Your arms are more fatigued with every throw. And the velocity decreases. Eventually the rats don't even head around the corner when you throw. They simply dodge the stone as it rolls by.

You decide to do something a little different. You have no choice, your arms are rubber. You stand still. You watch. You see some of the rats stay a little outside the plague of rats. You pick one and watch. The rats swirl weave around each other, but you keep focused on the one rat. You see a pattern in when he comes and goes.

You are rested. You are ready. The rat slows for just a second and bang! You throw the brick with focused precision. The rat is squashed, exploding into dust and short grey hairs!

You pick up the rock and get ready to throw it again. You realize that through your efforts the brick had been beat up. Some of the corners are chipped off. Rough spots worn relatively smooth. Your throws have changed the shape of the stone. You recognize the new shape. You realize the brick now fits perfectly in the hole you had compared it to before.

You are excited to try again.

You run back to the pile of stone, and then head back to the rats. You find them trying to scratch out the newly placed stone. They don't like the fact you stole back the progress they had made in destroying your foundation. They don't look happy, as they reallize they can't even scratch the stone firmly embedded in the wall.

You heft the new stone, it seems lighter, or at least more easily carried. You find a new target and wait. You find the pattern. After a few focused throws. Bam! Another dead rat, and another perfectly chipped stone. With time you get better and better at squashing larger and larger rats with less and less throws. Your foundation gets stronger and stronger, as do you.

The swarm gets smaller every day, but never goes entirely away. The ones that are left are wiley and quite large. And some wounded rats even come back. That's ok, by now you look forward to the challenge, because with every attempt, you are strengthening your foundation. And your ability to heft and throw stones becomes more and more impactful and concise.

So what does this mean?

I see every cause of erosion to my foundation as a rat. I literally call them rats. I can see them everywhere I look. But you know what? I try not to let them bother me. I see them for what they are, but I don't freak-out. I work to keep them from my foundation, but I focus on one rat at a time. I find that if I try to smash two, I generally miss both. If I target one I am much more likely to be successful. SO I take my time, and throw when I know the nature of that rat and I am ready. It's ok. The other rats aren't going anywhere.

Have a plan and be diligent.

Chose today to act, not be acted upon, specifically in the one Rat you have selected. Be diligent in recognizing the autopilot actions that we do without thought. Acknowledge the resistance and Temptation.

Recognize the R.A.T. - Resistance, Apathy, and Temptation.

R - Resistance

I am tired. I am bored. I am busy. I have so many things to do! I have so many decisions to make! It is too far. It is too difficult. It is not a popular idea. It is risky. The effort is too great. I'm not good enough.

Resistance is the power arrayed before me. It is the barrier to doing what is needed. Resistance is the friction that slows your progress. It is the syrup and sand in the gearbox. I feel resistance when I even think of moving forward. It is the equal and opposite reaction.

Resistance is the sharp head of the rat. It bites in and holds on.

A - Apathy

Apathy is a state of being where we live with our eyes half shut, purposley blurring the world, making real predators as nebulous as lifelong friends.

When we feel resistance and want to quit, we tell ourselves "it doesn't really matter". That "it is what it is." That it "wasn't worth it anyway." That it "ain't no big thing". That makes us free to "let it go" because "it doesn't really matter".

Apathy is denial. A deadening of the senses. A crust over the wound. We would rather deem something of no worth, than to admit we gave up, and missed out.

Apathy leads to automatic actions, default habits. Relinquishing our gumption, practicing fall-back habits that lead not to growth, but entropy.

Apathy is the fat rat gut, filled with the offal of past failures and fears, heavily carried, but ostensibly denied.

T - Temptation

Where Resistance pushes away from progress, Temptation pulls towards destruction. Temptation is the natural man demanding its due. It pulls to dishonesty, to greed and pride. It is lust. It is the enticement of the shortcut and the easy way, the path of least resistance. It leads one to alleviate pain with deadened senses. It is the alllure of beauty without content. Pleasure without context.

When you next see a rat, note it, name it, and watch for its patterns. When does it show up? How does it approach your foundation? How does it chew it away? HOw deep does it dig? How long does it stick around before it slinks away? How often does it come back? How does it respond when you throw the stone?

When you know that Rat like a close friend, and you understnad and aknowledge how deeply that Rat wounds your soul, you are more than ready to heave that stone and smash that rat.

Hold to the R.O.C.K. - Resilient Optimism Created by Knowledge

Resiliant Optimisim

When one lifts where they stand, and stands to the mark, the battle changes the person. Through the investment and cost paid on the path to self-control, the person witnesses the results. They come to the conclusion that embracing the "delusion" bears fruits. What seems ridiculous to natural man, is instead the way of wisdom. It becomes knowledge, and that knowledge becomes a source of energy and strength to move forward.

Though they know not what the path brings, they say, "Bring it on."

Now you know the enemy. You will see the rats coming, and you will be ready to respond. Now you have the choice, to run from the rats, or stand. This time you will be prepared. The rock is heavy, and the rats are quick, but you are ready to do what is required. You will meet the rats on your terms.