JUST TURN AROUND
Imagine you are in the midst of a cycling trip from Lake Louise to Jasper, Alberta. This is, by the way, reputed to be the most beautiful and rugged stretch of road in Canada. It has spectacular mountain views and wide shoulders, and I am thrilled to have cycled it with my family. Being a mountain highway, while it is undoubtedly beautiful, it is also full of long, steep hills, and is hard work.
Imagine that you have travelled one fifth of the way there.
Notice how you feel as you face forwards toward Jasper: You are probably aware that you have a long way to go, with many hills and two major mountain passes in front of you to conquer. You may feel daunted, or unsure of your capabilities. The distance might make you feel tired, discouraged, or even hopeless, wondering if you’ll ever make it. You may feel some anxiety about the road ahead, and what challenges it might bring.
Now turn around, and face where you have come from: Lake Louise. Acknowledge the distance that you have already travelled, and notice how this feels. You might feel well deserved pride at what you have accomplished. You might also feel relieved that you were able to cover that distance, and that you are no longer at the start of your trip. You probably feel a growing sense of self-confidence, knowing that you can cover ground on this journey. You know that whatever you have learned on this journey so far is now a part of you, and cannot be unlearned.
Wow, simply turning around can sure make a huge difference in how you feel!
Now, face sideways, so that Lake Louise is to one side of you, and Jasper is to the other, and again, notice how you feel. You may notice that you now have a quiet confidence about the rest of your journey, knowing that what brought you this far and what you’ve learned and will continue to learn, will surely take you the rest of the way.
All of the above is true of the journey of personal growth. Many people focus too much energy on facing forward and being all too aware of how they are not where they want to be. They feeling anxiety, dissatisfaction, self-judgement and self-doubt. The journey ahead is daunting! At times like these it is wisest to simply turn around, and instead face where you have come from. Acknowledge the growth and learning that has already taken place. Appreciate your accomplishments to date. And then face sideways: celebrate how far you have come, while still being aware of where you would like to go. Feel the faith in yourself, and motivation, energy, and hope for the future. You realize that the desire for being the best you can be and to suffer less, which has brought you from where you were to where you are, will always be there to take you further and further along your journey.
You may then even realize that you are now just where you’re supposed to be.