A large component of my job is to explore the different reframes to perspectives and experiences that challenge the sense of stuck-ness one perspective can cultivate. My favorite way of introducing the possibility of different perspectives having the potential of being just as valid as the next is quick, but impactful. I start by grabbing my handy-dandy dry erase board. Sitting with the client across from me, I draw a six. I then ask the client to tell me what number they perceive. They most commonly retort “nine”. I then engage in friendly, lightly challenging dialogue that the number before them is, in the perspective I am defending, a six. A smile and, at times, an eye roll or scoff follows, as the brief experiential activity supports there are many possible perspectives that hold as much validity as the next.
How can we reframe taking “first steps” in a way that’s motivating to embrace vulnerability and embark on the adventure focusing on the possibilities for growth?
How do we know the value of growth if we do not encounter obstacles, stumbles, or pop quizzes along the way? In my experience, growth is most notable if you’re able to turn around and not only pay witness, but also appreciate the journey and experiences that have led you to where you have gotten. I would not appreciate who I have grown into as an equestrian if I had not experienced falls, naughty ponies, missed competitions due to a lame horse, or the tough choices between weekends with friends or late nights staying up with a sick horse. We don’t wake up experts, or at least I have yet to find the magical potion for that. A major part of being human is we have to create our own roadmaps. Sure, we can ask for help and support along the way, however if you get down to the nitty-gritty, we are largely reliant on ourselves to reach the goals we dream up.
Yikes, talk about an existential crisis!
Yes folks, it is largely our own responsibilities to dig deep and discover our own motivation to pursue our goals and decide which “first steps” we must take to begin the journey toward those goals.
So yes, I believe we must become familiar with our own humanness prior to taking any “first step” into unknown territory. Why? Because it can be a pitfall and a major source of stuck-ness if we meet our own stumbles or obstacles with criticism. A large component of any obstacle is the background noise of the “peanut gallery” others feel compelled to retort. While the “peanut gallery” usually has good intention, the dialogue and feedback can notoriously be unhelpful. Even just in the sense of influencing our own inner self-talk toward a more negative and defeating tone.
Instead, I encourage others (and myself) to replace the criticism with compassion. When you come across an obstacle, or you stumble along your journey, show yourself the nurturing that we would a toddler courageously taking their first steps. Honor the uncomfortable emotions that may flare (disappointment, discontent, sadness) and show compassion toward the human that is you that is doing their best with the tools that they have. Give yourself space to feel, and then honor the goal that is still there despite the wobbles.
Alright my beautifully courageous humans. It is time for a reframe on these “first steps” into the creation of an unknown roadmap. Dig deep and examine which parts of the journey you may experience vulnerability along the way. Develop awareness of when you may become subjected to critical self-talk, and brainstorm ways you can show yourself compassion whenever challenges with this flavor occur. (And know they will occur). Give yourself ample permission to be human and set some hard boundaries with the “peanut gallery”.
I promise those “first steps” will be worth it.