Turtle catches the frisbee

Surely you know the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. And surely you know the the lesson: slow and steady wins the race.

Still, when it comes to our personal journey of healing, we often feel we want and need to address all our issues at once. We feel we need to go from suffering to thriving in one big leap.

Of course, that is not how it works…

Baby Steps

When we learn about the toxicity of our parent, partner, colleague or whoever is being emotionally abusive, we start on a journey of personal growth and healing. The realization of what has been going on, and the implication of that in our everyday life are huge. We may finally experience the euphoric notion that ‘this was not my fault’. However at the same time we will begin to learn in how many ways the abusive experiences have affected us, and manifest in our current behavior. The combination of all these emotions and realization may very well get the better of us.

Learning and growing take time. However impatient we are, we need to take small baby steps in order not to become overwhelmed.

Clip from: What About Bob? (1991)

Slow and Steady

Some days we leap forward, and other days we may take two steps back again. Nobody can overhaul their entire life all at once, and at some level I think we all know it. That would be like wanting to eat better and going vegan, gluten-free and expert kale-juicer, all in one afternoon (and sticking to it). Still so often I see survivors express frustration with their progress. It seems we all feel a need to work at ten things at once, and want to have perfect results every time.

We would be better off, setting small attainable goals, and building on those once we achieve them. Every step can lead to the next step, and before you know it we have changed. We can start by acknowledging a problem. Proceed to understanding the triggers. Grow to identify the behavior as it occurs. Learn to stop the behavior in its track. Until finally we stop showing the behavior. Achieving the Baby Step Goals will give us confidence. As such it will contribute not only to our personal growth, but helps us built our damaged self-esteem too. Have a look at What I Learned about Saying No for a practical example of this.

The baby steps are not just the best way for us to proceed; it is also the most surefire way to manage and maintain our learning and growth. Sticking to manageable chunks is important when we think of those who travel along with us, too. Our partners, children, family or friends are also dealing with our choice to overhaul our lives. They need time to adjust and grow with us. Some people may not want to, or be able to. We need to accept that, and may choose to either make room for that or leave them behind. Still those who want to join us on our journey, need to be able to keep up.

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Having gained experience while working for a variety of European non-profits, I am proud to now work with SwanWaters. My connection with the website is not only professional. I am glad to tap into my personal experiences to help those who are living in toxic relationships whether with parents, partners or in their professional life. We need to make the world more aware of the devastating effects of emotional abuse and help more people on their way to heal and thrive.

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