One Foot in Front of the Other
This seems like an odd choice of a quote for a therapist to throw up on her blog. I mean, the fields of therapy and counseling kind of root themselves in the premise of understanding “the path” and with good reason…
Without taking a slow and thorough look at our fears, needs, and pains, we run the risk of becoming reactive rather than responsive. If we go around making major life changes while totally ignoring emotional signs and symptoms, we could end up make some choices that leave us feeling stuck!
Understanding often works in tandem with action. If we refuse forward movement while we reflect on our feelings we will often do more harm than good.
The good news is that we are not charged with breaking into a sprint of productivity. Rather, we are encouraged to simply put one foot in front of the other. If this means we only make one small move in the direction of greater health today, that counts!
In therapy, I often see this presenting as follows… someone decides they want to start working one-on-one with a therapist. The process of starting therapy- finding a right therapist, working through all the paperwork, scheduling a first appointment, figuring out how insurance is going to work, signing respective releases so that the therapist can consult with other health professionals, taking a few weeks to get used to the idea of showing up at this time and place to talk to someone for an hour- takes A LOT of small steps in the right direction. But then, one day, when the weekly session starts to feel like just another part of the routine, the individual decides to engage. They decide to think on something to talk about for the next session, challenge a reflection the therapist offered, or try out a different way of relating/operating/being for a day or two during the week and check back.
These trial runs don’t always prove to be a sure-fire solution but, at the least, they set in motion new patterns of behaving (by actually giving things a go!), thinking (by not over-thinking choices), and feeling (by building some confidence and corrective experiences).
Want to start putting one foot in front of the other? Here is a quick way to implement this idea today.
1) Identify a personal behavioral pattern that is ineffective in your daily life and works against your greater health.
2) Think through the four sections of your day: morning, afternoon, evening, and night. How does this pattern show up in your day?
3) Decide on ONE instance where you can do the opposite of what this pattern would dictate you do.
4) Do not get too excited or promise yourself that you will do TWO things tomorrow. Stay with today.
Let’s get an example going…
One of my ineffective behavioral patterns is avoiding the work I feel least motivated to do.
This shows up in the morning when I delay getting my lunch ready so that I can spend more time on FaceBook or checking email. It shows up in the afternoon when I put off an important phone call I need to make. In the evening, it’s not getting that tire pressure light (that’s been on for a while now…) checked out by the mechanic once I finish with appointments. And at night, it’s not taking a minute away from email for some time to stretch and have a cup of tea before bed so I will get a GREAT rather than an “eh” night’s sleep.
Today I’m going to do that stretching and cup of tea because it’s a busy week and sleep is my kryptonite.
And that’s it! That is how we use our self-knowledge to help us get one foot down on the path.
I’ll leave you with one more from Mary Richards. I hope it will help you to remember the power and potential of your path.
It helps, I think, to consider ourselves on a very long journey: the main thing is to keep to the faith, to endure, to help each other when we stumble or tire, to weep and press on.