Struggles, challenges, wells of pain, and really, really messy times happen — for all of us. One of the things I’ve found helpful in climbing out of worry, stress, overwhelm, and depression: ditching the fight and reminding myself life is messy — over and over and over. It’s helped so much it’s now one of my first steps for slowing down the ping pong balls of thought careening around when I start sliding with worry and stress, so I can head in a different direction.
Today’s food for thought is a note to self in this vein, written in a letter to Lexie (my oldest and one of my best teachers).
Letters to Lexie: On Struggles
You’ll find yourself in struggles and messy spaces throughout life. It’s part of human-ing — journeying through really messy and painful places sometimes. A lot of times it’s where we end up learning the most.
The quickest way through the struggles and messy space is to quit — quit trying to go through it quickly, quit trying to skip it entirely. Trying to rush or skip through ends up causing collateral damage, and collateral damage prolongs the struggle and pain.
You’re there — be there, because you are there. Fighting being there is kind of a waste of energy because you’re already there; don’t waste your energy fighting being where you are.
Maybe try to remember to breathe, to get some sleep, to eat/drink what feels better to you, to move around your body however feels somewhat easy and doable– and this may seem/sound stupid and pointless. You may try and not feel any different. At all. You may not feel differently for quite some time. Broadening the view, what if it’s okay that you don’t feel differently the first (or tenth) time you breathe/sleep/etc.? You didn’t get to the messy space overnight; getting out won’t happen overnight either.
You step, one step at a time. A half a step at a time. Some days it may look simply like thinking about taking a step. And that’s enough. You do that over and over and over. To the best of your ability, you practice trying to let however you feel swirl, blow, happen — without fighting it (from what I’ve seen, it’ll usually settle and most of the time dissipate). And head in the direction that feels good, better, or less bad. And step again.
One day — it’ll feel longer and yet shorter than you thought it’d feel — you’ll notice the ground looks a little different. You’ll look up and notice you’re no longer deep in those struggles and messy space. And you took the fastest way out — through, step by step by step. And you’ll find a few new tools in your pocket for the next time you hit a rough patch.
For more food for thought on messy times and baby steps, check out this post: Waiting Places and Stepping.