The first step is always the hardest.
I’ve always been curious to what makes this one step the “hardest”. Is it the lack of roadmap that us creatures of habit are turned off by? Is it the beckoning of vulnerability this step requires? Is it the necessity of examining one’s own humanness that fuels this step?
Perhaps it’s all the above.
This question propels people into therapy more so than any other question. It generally presents as “I have this goal but I am stuck and cannot seem to accomplish it.” Then the expectation of “tell me what to do differently and I’ll be on my way” typically follows.
If only growth and healing were that easy!
Think about watching a baby contemplate their first steps. There is usually a journey to approach their actual first step. It includes figuring out how to actually move their bodies either by lifting their heads, tracking with their eyes, or rolling over. Next comes synchronizing most of these movements to sit up and oh what a shift in perspective this is! This shift fuels motivation to continue to search for other new perspectives and all the sudden their standing! Holy cow the rush that comes from being able to see from this height! By the time they find the motivation to try walking, the risk of vulnerability and tumbling is worth the embarkment of the tantalizing adventure that lays ahead.
Where does this sense of tantalizing adventure vanish to as we grow older? What themes are pertinent throughout our experiences that encourage reluctance in novel “first steps”?
I have a few ideas. For example, the more we grow, the more our innocence materializes. Our sense of wonderment is thrown into the shadows of what could go wrong. Ever-so-gradually, we experience uncomfortable human phenomenon that create “mental bruising to our egos” like judgement, ridicule, and mockery. Our falls somehow shift from the perspective of being one step closer to our goals to the highlighted focus of our weakness.
I’m sure we have all been there. Perhaps you woke up one morning with the most magnificent idea for a business plan. One that is beneficial for the greater good and embraces your own passions. You hurry to the kitchen to excitedly share your brilliant thoughts with your partner and you are met with an almost-bored stare. You can feel the excitement that was once bubbling through your veins just seconds before shrink away just with the sight of this non-verbal communication. Our bodies and minds go “oh crap, your vulnerability is showing!” Next, your partner yawns and says halfheartedly while returning to nursing their coffee, “Sounds great honey, but you know we don’t have the money or time to invest in something like that.”
Bam, vulnerability is met with disappointment; focused on the entirely of the obstacles that lay before you. You suddenly feel like the wobbly toddler who has stumbled and the adults around you start pointing and commenting on how you may never walk with confidence.
So, how can we combat this tendency to shrink away from the obstacles any “first steps” require and reframe to focus on the possibilities for growth and nurturement?
Stay tuned ;)