One Small Step

If you’re like most people, you’ll have times in your life when you’re feeling really low; perhaps you’re having one of those times right now. There’s pain in this thing, whether your careful plans unfold the way you’d hoped, or they don’t. Sometimes we create a real mess with the choices we’ve made and other times life puts obstacles in our paths that feel insurmountable. It’s important to remember the temporary nature of all things, including your feelings. How you feel now is not how you’ll always feel. How things are now is not how they’ll always be.

There’s no greater paralyzing force than hopelessness. Without hope, simply getting out of bed is hard. If you’re really devastated, just breathing in and breathing out is an effort, finding a reason to take a shower, eat anything, or do anything other than allow the tears to slip from the corners of your eyes seems like too much. If your pain is coming from an external source — the loss of someone you love beyond words, for example — then time will carry you to a place where you can begin to put the pieces of your life back together. Not the way they were, though, in a new way that leaves space for your loss, that allows some room for your grief. It may be something you carry with you from now on, but as you find your way, you’ll realize there’s also some space for joy, that not all is lost.

If you’re in the midst of it, be kind to yourself. I get emails from people sometimes who are really going through it, and they compound their pain by feeling guilty about how it’s affecting them. “I stayed in my pajamas all day watching old movies,” wrote a woman whose sister died suddenly a few weeks ago. “I know she wouldn’t want me to spend my days like this, but I can’t move. I can’t leave the house, I haven’t done the dishes or laundry in a week…” Now she has the pain of her loss, and the pain of feeling she isn’t handling it well. But to me, these seem like perfectly natural reactions. She’s in shock. She’s dealing with trauma. The last thing she needs is to feel badly about it.

There are less extreme examples every day. People berating themselves for not measuring up in one way or another. I got an email from a man who lost his job and is now scrambling to figure out how to take care of his family, and feeling like a “loser.” Countless people going through break-ups and feeling like they failed, are stuck, or aren’t sure if they should be moving backward or forward. Sometimes the thing is not to move at all. Not to force yourself to have the answers when you’re in a state of despair. The more you beat yourself up, the more you loathe yourself, the less likely it is you’ll find the strength to pull yourself out of the hole. Sometimes it’s easier to feel compassion for other people, but there’s a disconnect when it comes to ourselves. You’re a human being on a spinning planet. You have your own, personal pain that has to do with your own journey, and then you have the collective pain of not knowing exactly what we’re doing here, or what happens after this. So go a little easier on yourself and just start where you are. There’s a Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.” If you need to, try that on for size. One small step is usually doable even in the worst of circumstances.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here, and my yoga classes and courses here.

6 thoughts on “One Small Step”

  1. Isn’t it strange how we layer guilt on top of the pain like salt in an open wound? And why can’t we feel compassion for ourselves? I love this and I hope you don’t mind if I re-blog.

Leave a Reply