We have all been there. You’ve been working tirelessly for what feels like absolutely no gain. And while you’ve been sprinting your own personal marathon, your friends seem to be always be lounging by the beach soaking in both the sun and their personal satisfaction of having all their dreams realized (just me? Remind me to write an article on “projection” later…).
I’m going to share a secret with you, something I had to do a lot of my own personal work to figure out.
Your moments of greatest growth often feel like your moments of greatest suffering.
You see, resiliency is a real thing. Some would call it grit, others strength or endurance. I see it as the thing that allows us to endure the worst of times and yet somehow still wake up the next morning. Has anyone else ever thought of how incredible it is that we can go to bed feeling the worst heartbreak or grief of our lifetime and wake up the next morning with our organs still completely intact? It’s like our heart should be physically broken in half, and yet it still goes, working day in and day out. (Let us all take a moment to send a quick thanks to those parts of ourselves, shall we?)
How does this all relate to not being where you want to be? I’m saying that you may not see what progress you’ve made yet, because you’re still sprinting your marathon. You might be too far in to see how far you’ve come. If you think back on your life, you can probably identify a time in life that you grew tremendously in the face of adversity. But if you recall how you felt in the midst of that turmoil, you likely were not waking up each morning with a smile on your face saying, “Damn I grew a lot yesterday. Let’s do it again today!” That’s because it doesn’t always feel good to use our resilience just because we have it.
But if you are in the middle of working hard to get yourself out of the weeds and you continue to wake up day in and day out to your heart still pumping, then you are growing. Our resilience really doesn’t give us another option but to grow and thrive.
What can you do? I would suggest taking a moment to sit down and reflect. Truly spend some time thinking back and outline the ways you have already grown and achieved. Try to see yourself the way someone who loves you might, as opposed to your worst inner critic.
I would also suggest talking with your therapist about what progress they have seen. They may be able to give you real insight and even suggest areas of future growth and direction.
And lastly, do you need new direction? Check in with yourself and ask if the area you are growing is still your best use of energy. Have your goals changed? Are there more appropriate areas to work on in order to achieve your goals?
And please remember: Just because you see where you want to be in the future, doesn’t mean you haven’t already traversed serious ground to get where you are today. So thank yourself for your perseverance and strength and maybe stop looking at your friends’ beachside Instagram pictures.
Emily Wagner, trauma expert and mental health counselor provides education for anyone looking to improve their mental health.