You won’t be good at this
Now isn’t that a cheery, and encouraging way to start a blog post!
I think there are few things that are more discouraging than when we attempt to grow and change, and then feel like we fail; over and over again. We try to eat healthier, only to give it all up a few days later when it feels that the only thing that will make us feel better is ice cream. We try to have better boundaries only to cave the first time someone pushes back against them. We try to communicate better with our spouse only to have it end in a huge fight again.
You know what? It IS discouraging when we fail, but often I think that discouragement comes from this secret belief that this time we won’t. We get all excited. Maybe we just read a book, talked to a friend, or started therapy and we – are – pumped! This time we are going to do it differently. This time we are going to really conquer this thing!
And then it all falls apart.
Maybe it doesn’t even completely fall apart. Maybe we do a little better than we did last time, but if it’s not perfection, then we aren’t interested.
One of the conversations I have most frequently with my clients starts with the phrase, “You will not be good at this.” Usually I’m much more encouraging in therapy sessions, but I have found that this conversation saves a lot of discouragement and ultimately quitting. I remind my clients that when someone starts lifting weights, they don’t start with the 100 pound dumbbells. You start with the 5’s, and slowly over time you work yourself up. Change is just like that. Fast change doesn’t usually stick, because fast change just pulls all your muscles, and leaves you an exhausted mess on the floor of life.
Slow change though. Slow change can be a thing of beauty. Slow change is when you start with that tiny 5 pound weight. You start by having a good boundary with something that feel manageable. You start by holding your tongue that one time when you want to snap back with a low blow. And as you begin to work out that new muscle, it starts to get a little stronger. It feels shaky and weak at times, but that’s what it takes for a muscle to grow. It feels scary that first time you reach for the 25 pound weight, but you have the success of those smaller weights behind you.
And the more you work that muscle, the stronger it gets, and before long you have made real, lasting, healthy change in your life. A change that will stick because it has a foundation of strength behind it.
So no, you won’t be good at this . . . at first. But if you can give yourself the grace to make mistakes without giving up, and go slowly without feeling discouraged, you will be surprised where you can end up!