We hate the valleys.
I mean who wakes up with crippling anxiety and likes it? Who starts their day overwhelmed with “mom guilt” and thinks, “oh this is awesome. This is what motherhood should be.” Who cries on the way to work, grieving a loss or failing relationship or wayward child and feels good about the tears?
No one. We all want the mountaintop. We want the victory. We want joy and success and healthy family dynamics and strong marital communication. We want our kids to thrive at school and our spouses to thrive at work and our minds working at peak capacity.
But between that miserable valley and the peak we all seek is a whole lot of journey. There’s space to travel and work to be done. There is healing to be had and there are lessons to be learned. So why do we hate the middle?
As I have this conversation with so many clients and even with mentors, there seems to be a common theme. We hate the middle because we can’t see the end. We can’t see the victory through the battle.
We can’t see the mountaintop through the treacherous terrain.
So this, my friend, is where we have to trust the process. There are a few simple steps to surviving the middle when you can’t quite see the peak:
- Develop the skills- running a marathon starts with stretching. Then walking. Then jogging. Then running a mile. Then running two. You can’t reach the marathon goal without practicing the foundational skills. In the same way, you can’t combat anxiety without skills. You can’t overcome addiction or depression without strategy. You can’t maintain a healthy relationship without a strong foundation. Working with a counselor will give you the skills you need to reach your goals.
- Trust the process- reaching a better place doesn’t happen overnight. Whether in your relationship, in your own mental health, in your workplace or in your friendships, changes take time. It can be tempting to question or even criticize progress when we haven’t reached our goals, so it is important to remind yourself that healing and growth are a process and don’t happen overnight. Having people in your life you share your goals and progress with can help hold you accountable to trusting the process.
- Keep your eyes ahead- healing doesn’t happen in your past. It’s hard to move forward when your eyes are looking back. In the same way you wouldn’t climb a mountain while looking down at the base, you won’t move in to a healthier mental space while ruminating on the past. Depression and anxiety and addiction and abuse (and any other number of stressors) can cause you to look back and question certain behaviors or choices in your past. And while it can be a learning tool to evaluate past behaviors, it won’t bring you to the summit. Keeping your eyes ahead, on your journey and path to healing will keep you moving in the right direction.
One of my favorite ways to keep my eyes ahead and track my progress through the process is to journal. This allows me to see progress, even slow progress, and reflect without backsliding. Journaling holds me accountable to trusting the process and is a great skill to have for those looking for practical application.