March 14, 2014

Getting Over The Humps

My good friend sent me a text recently asking me a question and asking that it be the topic of my next blog post.

His question was:

How do we get over the humps that still come up in our lives years after we climbed over the original mountain that brought us to our knees.

I can't promise that what worked for me, will be a custom fit for everyone else, but I'm happy to share my journey and if someone else finds something helpful in it, wonderful!

For me, it took avoiding looking at the "humps."  I only see "humps" when I try to look too far ahead or try to take in every part of an obstacle at once. 

Like climbing a hill, I found when I was constantly focused on how much of the hill was still ahead, each of my steps didn't seem to amount to much.  By keeping my eyes on the single step in front of me, each step mattered.  Occasionally even looking over my shoulders to see how far I'd come brought greater resolution, encouragement, and made each of my steps lighter.

Focusing on what was right in front of me was no easy chore.  Concentrating on one thing at a time is probably one of the hardest things I do daily.  My mind has a mind of it's own with millions of side hobbies.  

When I do get distracted, (Notice I said when instead of if? Yep, it's that hard!) I can easily fall into "all or nothing" thinking. It goes like this..."If I can't do all of this, I might as well not even start."  That's crazy talk.  Doing something is still doing something. No matter how super we are, we can only do well, one thing at a time anyway so why not do that one thing?

I noticed that any time I tried to focus on "completion" instead of "process" I got frustrated and became overwhelmed.  

Completion IS a process.  There's no such thing as insta-healing.  Every time I tried to rush it I ended up back peddling instead.  The moment that overwhelm hit, I became paralyzed and all forward motion came to an abrupt halt.  Even though I'd stopped making progress, I  felt just as exhausted as I would of if I'd been working hard and moving ahead.  I believe the exhaustion came from the emotional beatings I'd heap on myself when I found myself stuck in my own mental mire.

Making a list of what I needed to do each day helped give me focus. 

My "list" was always something manageable.  Checking off what I'd finished gave me small victories that were energizing.  It was hard to feel like a success when I was defining "success" as "all done."  I could be successful in making small accomplishments and by doing that, the huge things were being cut into bite size pieces that in turn helped tackle the huge obstacles.

Another breakthrough for me was when I stopped thinking that healing is something that I could one day "finish."  

Healing is a life long process that we get better and better at. The better we get at forgiving, the better we get at healing.  Forgiveness isn't about letting anyone off the hook except ourselves.  We don't have to accept mistreatment as OK to forgive, but we have to accept forgiveness to be OK ourselves.  When we don't forgive we're forced to relive the original pain continuously.  The worst hurts of all are the ones we heap on ourselves by reliving repeatedly the things that are already over.

Staying connected and finding supportive people who  championed my efforts, listened, and encouraged me made all the difference. 

Having my feelings validated, and feeling understood was an amazing process that helped me find self validation. We're all stronger together than we are alone.

The next may be the most important step of all:  Being patient with myself. Healing, digging out of the aftermath, learning new ways of being, each have their own time frame and won't be rushed. Once I gave in to that and allowed myself to take how ever long it took, I felt less self-imposed stress to "hurry up and heal." 

By allowing the process to unfold, focusing on what's was right in front of me, forgiving, staying connected, being patient with myself, and keeping an open heart, the guidance I needed to keep moving forward came.  Not always when I wanted it, but always just as I needed it. I hope the same will be true for you as well.

What steps have worked for you to overcome life's "humps?"


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