Practice: Challenge Audit

Practice: Challenge Audit

This practice is one wherein writing is powerful. It is critically important to identify and clarify your challenges, in writing. This is the beginning of understanding who you are in relation to your challenges.

Writing about your challenges, literally sitting with them laid out in front of you, in writing, is the very first step in exposure therapy. You are willingly engaging in focusing on your challenges! Being willing to think about them and feel the emotions and physical sensations related to them is a VERY big deal!! Most people “won’t even go there!”  Seriously, Dude?! People live in denial sometimes for a lifetime. Watch how much WRITING can be a VERY powerful step forward in your self-realization and self-actualization!!!

  1. Make a written list of specific challenges in your life.

Reflect on your list and write freely, as much as possible, without stopping, about each of the challenges or about all of them collectively, whatever you’d like to do.

Re-read what you wrote.

How did it feel to write about your challenges? Can you hypothesize about why this is so? Keep writing.

Use the “Common Human Challenges” list below to further reflect and contemplate your specific challenges. Write, again, and more about your thoughts and feelings.

**Take breaks to regulate your emotions whenever you need to– don’t be surprised if this is a challenge in and of itself to write about your challenges.

  1. Look for connections or patterns among the challenges you currently face.

How many of your problems or challenges involve fear? What are you afraid of with regard to this or that problem?

How many of your challenges are about change? How and why is change a challenge for you?

Are any challenges related to expressing your potential even more than you have so far in your life, yet you feel like an imposter or not worthy of growth and fuller development and all the new challenges and responsibilities that come with it?

Which challenges are related to suffering–  from your resistance to, or fear of loss or letting go?

Try to further specify and categorize your challenges. Writing about them in this way is the first step forward in facing them and creating a plan to cope with them and build on them for a purpose-filled life.

  1. Reflect on your relationship to your problems. Write about your mindset when it comes to your challenges. What is your attitude toward your challenges? IN other words, how do you think and feel about your problems? How do you avoid or approach them?

*You might write about just one challenge or about them collectively.

Notice whether or not you see your challenges as problems to suffer with or as opportunities from which to define yourself and grow. Be honest and nonjudgmental. Write the truth. Notice how it feels in your body to write the truth. Write about the experience of writing the truth and its associated feelings.

  1. Now, try rewriting some or all of your challenges as opportunities for learning.Make a list and write statements that begin with something like “Challenge X can teach me ___________ or how to ____________.  I could also grow in _____________ (fill in the specific way or ways you’d grow– not what you would get. How would you grow more human, more wise, more well?).
  2. Brainstorm answers to the following: How would facing and struggling with ONE of my challenges help to complete me as a whole, healthy, and more integrated human being? (Notice I did not ask you to SOLVE the challenge or make it go away!) How would you grow stronger, more loving, healthier from merely taking one step toward grappling with this challenge?

List of Common Human Challenges

 Fear is at the root of most human challenges, and it is human nature to feel vulnerable, afraid, and to suffer with the anxiety resulting from fear.

Insecurity can come from ambiguity; of not knowing; of not being in control, vulnerability, of needs being met, and a lack of safety. Every human feels unsafe to one degree or another.

Honesty: deciphering, telling, and living the truth is challenging, as is integrity and fear of being oneself.

Change/lack of permanence: striving, clinging, need for control comes from fear of change. Humans find it challenging to let go and accept that all is flux. Everything comes and goes, is born and dies.

Loss is a challenge (loss of permanence, stability; fear of death)

Suffering can be defined as wanting or expecting reality (people, events, you, the weather etc…)  to be other than it is; suffering can come from a lack of acceptance of the human condition—of change, vulnerability, loss etc…When humans resist the reality and truths of being human this can cause additional suffering.

Limitations challenge humans whether (inner) physical, psychological, mental/intellectual, illness, injury, or (outer/external) a lack of access to basic and higher needs being met (food, shelter, et al, respect, esteem, love et al—I am referring to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), natural or environmental oppression.

Pain & Discomfort: may be physical, psychological, the result of destruction, violence, oppression, illness, other–from within you or external to you.

Isolation & Loneliness: unmet needs for attention, love, nurturing, belonging, social engagement and healthy connection with others, and community.


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