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The First Step is The Hardest

Image result for taking the first step

I Don’t Like Where I Am

Let’s say I’m confused and unsettled. I’m not unhappy necessarily, but I don’t feel content with the direction I’m heading. I’ve tried lots of things to change my circumstances, but nothing seems to pull me out of the funk. What do I do?

But I Already Tried That

When I complain to my friends that I’m unhappy and they listen sympathetically, I appreciate it. When I’m alone and want to avoid thinking about my situation because it’s too hard, that’s being human. I want to change but I need ideas.  So I talk to people and when someone suggests  a possible step, I’ll say…”I tried that already,” “That’s impossible,” “You don’t understand how complicated it is.” What I call… “yes, but”… Yes you’re right BUT I can’t.

Why the First Step is So Hard

If leaping off a cliff was easy, everyone would do it. Starting a business, leaving home, going off to school, moving, switching jobs, changing relationships… all of these are like jumping off a cliff. Some people have big safety nets. Families that will take them back if they misstep, lovers who will forgive, bosses and teachers who cut us some slack, etc. But some of us have no net. Once we jump, we’re on our own.

So it’s no surprise then, that we hesitate, that we find excuses, we rationalize that things aren’t that bad. Leaping without a net is for crazy people or risk takers or people with nothing to lose. But I’d like to suggest that we try another approach, net or no net. That we make a decision to take one small step towards something new.

Self Talk

This small step might be vowing to pay attention to the voices in my head. Do I play the same tape over and over? So and so did this to me… why did she say that? By listening to the voices, I come to understand where I support myself and where I abandon myself.

In my case, my self talk is almost always positive regarding my work. Every project is going to go well, my ideas are going to be appreciated, I’m a valued member of the team, etc. But when it comes to personal relationships, my self talk is very different. I feel awkward, unsure, tentative. My self talk questions my motives, my actions, my feelings.

I understand why this is, but feel powerless to change it. So, I’m trying to pay attention to what I say to myself and change negative to positive thoughts. I’ll let you know how it’s going.

Here’s a resource to try if you’re interested:  Self-Talk and Self-Compassion

Image credit: The First Step


6 Responses
  • Kelly Robinson
    December 6, 2017

    Love your writing, it is always from the heart and so familiar to read

  • Deborah
    Deborah
    December 6, 2017

    Hey Kelly, thank you so much. D

  • Irana van Oostrum
    December 8, 2017

    I recognize myself in this so much.. I’ve been struggling with my self talk too. realizing what I do, not liking it, wanting to change it and even knowing how to change it, but just can’t. It’s so confronting and exhausting and it makes me like myself less. It’s different from day to day though. Some days I feel really good and hardly pay attention to self talk or how I’m doing things. But there are also days where I am extremely aware and can only find the negatives. It’s a hard thing, but nice knowing someone else is dealing with it as well in a way. sending you love <3

  • Katherine Reeves
    December 8, 2017

    I was once told that the negative self talk can be thought of as “critters” in your head trying to get to you. Sometimes the best way to handle them is to acknowledge their addition to the “conversation “ and then move along. Kind of like, “Thank you for your input but I don’t think it is helpful in this moment. Come again another time!” If you “feed” them too much, they get comfortable like any other pest and don’t want to leave.
    I often find this helpful for myself because it’s near impossible to completely ignore or shut out the negativity/negative self talk and honestly it often gets worse the more you fight it. However if you at least acknowledge it, then it acts almost like the child seeking attention; it’s happy to be recognized and can go back along its merry way.
    Hope this helps! Thank you for your honesty Debbie- I appreciate a fellow vulnerable soul! 👍

  • Deborah
    Deborah
    December 10, 2017

    Hi Katherine, I love this and I’m going to use it. The idea that these thoughts are ‘alive’ (they do have a life!) and I can acknowledge them and then not feed them or I can invite them in and make them comfortable (no!) Thank you so much for this.I’m going to be looking for those critters. DM

  • Deborah
    Deborah
    December 10, 2017

    Irana, Yes, we are in this together and it makes me feel better too. I hope you’ll read Katherine comment about recognizing and acknowledging these ‘critters’ and then asking them to move along. I’m gonna try it and at least try not to feed them and invite them in! sending you love DM

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