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one thing you can stop doing right now

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I learned something new last week that really hit home.

Have you ever heard about any of the details that go into a climber’s journey up Mount Everest?  They go through a process of acclimatization where they climb up and back down, up again and back down, up higher still and back down, as they slowly make progress up the mountain.  It allows their bodies to more safely adjust to the changing elevation, temperature, etc. and gives them a much better chance of reaching the summit.  

I’m obviously not a climber, because I’ve forever envisioned that the summit seekers just go up and up and up.  I mean, who wants to have to go back down the mountain?

In a similar way, I’ve applied this linear thinking to my own life – especially my healing journey.  I’ll have an ah-ha moment, celebrate the fact that I’ve (finally!) found the answer.  I can now stop doing x, y, or z that’s causing me pain.   Whew, that was easy!  Right? 

But then when I find myself doing x, y, or z again later, I fall into the trap of “but I thought this was behind me.”  “I guess it didn’t work – I’m going to struggle with this for the rest of my life, huh?”  Cue the anger, self-pity and self-punishment that comes along with feeling like a failure.  

Now, my mentor has told me before that healing is like layers of an onion.  Sometimes you just scratch the surface, and there will be more for you to look at later – deeper layers.  

But this Everest metaphor is taking it a step further for me.  I also can’t get Paula Abdul out of my head.  That whole two steps forward, two steps back thing.  Haha.  

Healing isn’t a linear path where you get to keep climbing straight up the mountain.  We heal a bit, we expand, and then we contract.  Then we heal a bit more, rise a bit higher, always being presented with opportunities (disguised as two steps back) to practice forming new patterns and ways of being.

And then maybe (hopefully, maybe) a day comes when we realize, “huh, I don’t do that x, y, or z anymore.”  And it’s amazing.

Whether it’s yelling at our kids, trying to lose the weight, or getting over a childhood trauma – no matter the challenge, the call to rise – we can stop doing one thing:

Beating ourselves up for not healing faster or easier or in a more linear fashion.  We can stop beating ourselves up for not being “fixed”.  

Instead, what if we gave ourselves the freedom to:

  • simply notice when we fall back into old patterns
  • try something different this time
  • take two steps forward and then sometimes two steps back, with some self-compassion
  • have faith that we’re still moving up the mountain even when we don’t seem to be moving very quickly.  

That feels so. much. better.  And like the climbers of Everest, makes it so much easier to reach the summit.  Peace.

Onward, friends (and sometimes backward),  😉

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