Welcome to another Trigger HAPPY Thursday!
Today’s post is dedicated to my soul sister & fellow traveler, Ito.
I find it hard to believe that it’s already Thursday…so hard to believe that I actually thought it was Wednesday, and almost forgot to record my video. But there you have it. The video happened, and happiness was triggered, and all rejoiced. Or something like that.
So here we go. Today’s Happiness Trigger is: Take a Step Back.
(And if you can’t watch the video for whatever reason, here’s the general idea of what it means to “Take a Step Back.”)
I’ve spent a large portion of the last 265 days (give or take, although I can’t believe it’s already been that long) working on taking baby steps forward. Whether it’s learning how to stop saying negative things to myself every time I pass a mirror, learning how to forgive myself for supposed “transgressions” with food, overcoming my obsession with exercise and calorie counting (and sitting with the discomfort on days when I just feel overcome), or starting to make friendships and trying to move outside of my comfort zone while living with anxiety…my mantra every day has just been to take baby steps, one day at a time.
But what about the days when baby steps aren’t possible? When baby steps feel like giant leaps, and giant leaps are enough to send me running for cover? What about the days when indulging in the negative thoughts or canceling on a friend because you just can’t make it over the threshold makes you feel like a failure? What do you do with the inability to take baby steps then?
So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it, and while baby steps are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for recovery, I think we shouldn’t forget that, sometimes, it’s just as important to remember to take a step back.
Now, I’m not talking about “falling off the wagon” or experiencing a setback and a downward spiral. That’s obviously not a good strategy for triggering happy, let alone living a good life.
What I’m talking about is learning to take a breath and sit with discomfort, anxiety, and fear without pushing yourself to conquer it.
I think of it this way:
In marketing, which is what I do, everything is an emergency. Some days, when I put together my priority list, everything is on the same line, at number one. And on those days, when I have this linear list of “EVERYTHING THAT MUST BE DONE RIGHT NOW OR ELSE THE WORLD WILL IMPLODE AND THE COMPANY WILL FAIL,” I try to take baby steps in every direction, and usually end up exactly where I started: nowhere, except frustrated in myself.
Sometimes, the first step has to be a step back: a step back to reassess and reevaluate: what do I need to do first? What can I reasonably accomplish? What am I doing to project failure before I even begin?
A step back is forgiveness: It’s okay that I’m not superwoman, and I may not finish it all as quickly as I’d like. A step back is permission: It’s okay to work at my own pace.
This works with food, fitness, and body image too: So I ate too many chocolate chips tonight. So I didn’t work out like I wanted to. So I don’t look like [insert fitness model here] anymore. It’s so damn easy to get overwhelmed with the I don’ts, I can’ts, I won’ts, I shouldn’ts…and just as easy to get overwhelmed with the I shoulds, I musts, and I would have, buts…
And if you keep trying to go forward in every direction, while dragging all of the negative baggage along with you, you’ll never get anywhere. And that’s why you have to take a step back before you can move forward. And in that step back–during which you forgive yourself and give yourself permission to breathe and reassess before you move on–you’ll gain the strength, the perspective, and the peace to start moving forward once again.
Where in your life can you supplement your baby steps with steps back? How are you going to trigger happy?