Tip #129: Learn to be okay with taking small steps.
The Why: Humans are rather strange creatures sometimes.
We can be quite bad at seeing beyond the here and now, and looking at the big picture.
We expect immediate results, or we’re not interested.
We’re all guilty of this – and I am no exception. The other day I become rather angry that after drinking one glass of water and doing two sit-ups, I didn’t suddenly have clear skin and a six-pack.
It’s easy to see why we think like this – it can be quite disheartening if you try, and try, and try and try, but still don’t see the results we were promised.
But some things, particularly recovering from anxiety, take time, and effort and energy.
Yet my G-d it’s worth it.
We have to believe it’s worth it, that we’re worth it.
I’ve always loved the analogy of planting an oak tree. You plant the seeds, and at first, it grows very slowly. Only about a foot a year. After five years, this would make it the same height as a 13-year-old child. Not very impressive.
But it keeps growing, and growing, and growing and growing and then suddenly it’s 100 feet tall and a truly remarkable sight.
It’s easier if we see ourselves as oak trees – we may constantly grow and change little by little and not even notice how different we are, but one day, when we can breathe easily, our minds are peaceful and we feel happy, we’ll realise finally how far we’ve come. We’ll realise what a truly remarkable sight we are.
So, never be afraid to start small – even if it’s taking a tiny step like leaving the house for a two-minute walk, riding the bus for one stop, writing the title of an essay or report that’s been stressing you out.
In fact, it’s often that first small step that breaks the tension and allows further steps.
Begining a journey can be an incredibly daunting task, especially looking at the long, winding road ahead, but taking that first step gives you permission and evidence to say ‘ah, that wasn’t so bad, let’s take another, and another, and another’.
But, even knowing all of this, it’s sometimes hard to put into practice.
The best piece of advice I can give for dealing with this is:
Learn to love the journey.
For instance, if you don’t just see visualisation or meditation or creating art or going out with friends as steps towards overcoming anxiety, but see them as important and enjoyable within themselves, this will encourage you to do these things even though you may not see the results in regards to your mental health right away.
Although destinations are great and important, if you only seek the end point, you will only love one moment that may take a while to reach. Yet, if you learn to love the journey, you will find enjoyment and happiness every step the way.
It can be hard. Really, really, really hard. But don’t be afraid to start small, because, in truth, life isn’t just a series of huge life-changing, life-affirming epiphanies or transformations. It’s a series of small, incremental choices and changes that lead us to who we are and where we want to be.
If we want our big, happy Hollywood photo finish, we have to take the roads that lead us there, no matter how many there are.