It amazes me how quickly we can go from having a life-changing epiphany to having a life-shattering breakdown. At least it feels like our lives are shattered for the moment, anyway.
You know when you wake up and you have one of those this-is-the-day-everything-is-going-to-change-for-the-better days? Yeah. Those days are awesome. They're especially awesome if they don't happen to fall on a Monday because, for whatever reason, it feels more promising.
That reason probably has something to do with the fact that we feel like everyone and their mom also says they are going to change their lives or start something...on Monday. But if you decide to pass up on the free breadsticks at Olive Garden on a Wednesday? Well then, you obviously mean business!
I had the pleasure of having one of these little-big epiphanies (on a Tuesday, woot woot!) about 6 weeks ago. I woke up early all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (which happens about as often as a lunar eclipse) and decided to go for a walk.
Yes, the same walk I talked about in my last blog.
That walk started a new routine. It's a great routine too. What we don't remind ourselves about these "new me, new life" routines is that they can (and are 99.9999% likely to) eventually be broken. Those days are not so awesome—especially when they begin to string together.
On the first day that you decide to break your routine, it's okay. You're just taking a break, that's all. Everyone needs a day off, right? Then the second day passes. Okay, maybe it's an extended vacation. The third day passes. Worry begins to creep in. By the fourth day, worry turns to panic and on the fifth day, welcome to the breakdown.
I was doing so well! What is WRONG with me? Why can't I stay committed to ANYTHING in life! Why did I get all excited? Why did I tell people?? I knew I'd end up here. People are out there changing the world and I can't even stick to a power walking regimen that my great grandmother would dust her shoulders off with. WTF.
This is where I found myself last week. I had fallen off of my walking-wagon and it might as well have been the end of the world. I came down on myself. HARD.
Isn't it strange how we have these mental arsenals filled with ammunition that is specifically designed to destroy our personal hopes and aspirations? Maybe it's just me, but I have a feeling I'm not alone on this one. It's like when anything goes wrong, or we let ourselves down in some way, our minds immediately cue the army of self-loathing.
Oh, she failed again? Shocker. Send in the 2012 failure missile followed by the February 2010 nuke. That should keep her in bed for a few days!
Why do we do this? Don't we have enough against us in this society-driven world? Why is it so easy to add ourselves to that list of doubters?
I couldn't let this "failure" interrupt the construction of the path I had worked so hard on paving for myself. I had to clear my head. So, what did I do? You probably guessed it. I took a long walk.
Seriously. I walked that shit out.
Something crazy happened on that walk:
No one stopped to remind me that I hadn't been there in the past few days. No signs were posted with pictures of what I had missed out on. The sun still peeked over the mountains. My favorite old lady still wished me a blessed day. The ants didn't look at me accusingly. The quail ran away from me just the same.
There were no physical reminders waiting to tell me that I had failed at maintaining my new routine. Only the mental ones that I chose to create and carry. If I removed those, it was like I never skipped a beat.
A thought crossed my mind: What if when we fell off our self-made wagons we didn't look at it as starting over when we decided to get back on? What if we instead treated it as a chance to help ourselves back up to our feet to continue right where we left off?
If we eliminated the idea of measuring all of the progress we could have made and chose to focus on the progress that has already been earned, we might have a better chance of reaching the destination we created for ourselves in the first place.
I may have turned my back on my new found path for a few days, but that didn't mean I couldn't still feel the warmth of the sun that awaited my return.
What if every ounce of progress we have made, in all areas of our lives, was still ours for the taking? Would we still be so paralyzingly afraid to fail?
I don't think so.
If you are feeling weak in a situation where you once knew yourself to be strong, I fully believe you still get to claim that strength. If you are having difficulty forgiving someone but you have moved on from equally difficult relationships before, that peace is still yours for the taking.
Tap into your past victories and milestones. Take back your hard-earned willpower. Own the courage that you once put in the work to create. ALL of these things are still yours!
Do not give your former self all of the credit. That brave soul is still yours, that wise decision was created in the same mind, and those strong legs are still carrying YOU.
Let's stop beating ourselves up for not being who we were and start using that energy to better who we currently are. We might fall, in fact, we are going to fall—A LOT. Instead of mourning the strength we once had to get back up, let's allow ourselves to believe it's still there and stand!
I'm walking again because I love it. I'm no longer counting the days missed or kept. I am only counting the steps that are getting me closer to my goal. There is no longer a rewind or fast forward option for my little journey, nor a stop, pause or play button to hit—only record.
We all know success is just failure turned inside out and, if we want it badly enough, then it will always, always be worth the fall.