12 Feb

     Sometimes the best thing you can do is simply go through the motions. “Baby steps” if I may pull that from What About Bob. But its true. Sometimes you need to just get through something by taking baby steps. That is, focus less on the big picture and superfluous details, put one foot in front of another, and simply tackle one thing at a time.
When times get tough, sometimes all you can do is put one foot in front of the other. As easy as that sounds, it can prove a surprisingly difficult task. But, if you can just get yourself to take a step in the right direction, no matter how small it may be, after a few “baby steps”, you will be able to look back and see that indeed, progress was made.

     What I mean by going through the motions is a fairly straightforward concept as well. You may not always FEEL like going to work, to school, the gym, your book-club meeting…we’ve all been there. Going through the motions can be particularly helpful when faced with a crisis situation. You know, when things are so awful you just don’t know how you could possibly recover. This is because, it takes zero to little thought, keeps you active, and prevents you from going the route of self-imposed solitary confinement/torturous dwelling upon matters which are out of your control.
     As cliché as it is, showing up is half the battle. Even when things are dire and you can’t see the light at the tunnel (it’s ALWAYS there btw). Showing up is the first and most important step (or baby step if you will) in either getting through a difficult situation or getting anything done really. If you just make the initial effort to show up, you’ll find that once you get there, things will fall into place.
     Nature, being the ironic trickster that it is, often makes us feel inclined to avoid our routine activities in times of distress. Perhaps because they are all too often tainted by and reminiscent of the source of our despair. However, after you muster the courage to throw yourself back into things, your everyday habits and instincts take over, and most of the time you realize that it’s much better to be around familiar settings and people than alone with your thoughts. Also, you can be proud of yourself for taking a positive and difficult step. As well as realize that you are capable of still functioning even when you are not at your best. Cuz you are like eye of the tiger baby!! Lastly, others around you will see that you are toughing it out, and any boss, co-worker, or friend will respect that, and perhaps be inspired by you to face their own dilemma with such mettle. (Good word by the way, meaning “courage or fortitude”).
     Perseverance is one of the most important life skills that you can possibly teach yourself. Sometimes just hanging in there is all you can do. As mentioned above, simply going through the motions is progress in itself. When you are dealing with a serious problem or personal crisis, it can be all too easy to feel like you want to give up, curl up into a ball in the corner of your room and just give up (with or without a bottle of Jack Daniel’s handy, your choice). Even getting out of your bed to start the day can seem like an insurmountable task. When things get this bad you HAVE to realize that it is temporary. You HAVE to know, either from past experience or blind faith that “this too shall pass.” You need to accept that while what you are experiencing may seem devastating and irreparable, it is simply one of many difficult periods you are likely to experience throughout life.
     Having the perspective to know that life is simply a continuous pattern of highs and lows will take you far. As we mature and become adults one of the most universal lessons we learn is that nothing is black and white. We come to understand and appreciate the various shades of grey with which life presents itself. Similarly, nothing is permanent. Highs and lows come and go. We experience both trials and tribulations. We are up, and down, and back again, and such is life. Perspective is key when facing time of difficulty as we can take solace in knowing that this time shall pass and inevitably give way to success and happiness in the future. The feeling of being stuck in a horrible situation with no conceivable way out, or being worried and overwhelmed with uncertainties in the future, I would say, is usually what makes hard times so hard. Not to mention painful and downright distressing. If you haven’t learned from experience already, please take it on faith, and keep this in mind:

▪ This too, shall pass ▪

     The first few paragraphs are really about the small picture and day to day skills necessary to persevere though a crisis or difficult situation. However, true perseverance is just as much about the big picture if not more. It’s not just about baby-stepping through the hard times, it’s also about having discipline and following things through. Whether it be keeping to your diet, going to class or work everyday, and so on, it is important that you stick with these things and do what you need to do even if you don’t necessarily “feel like it.” Excuses are all too easy to come by and abundant so don’t even start down that path. Tell yourself, this is what I HAVE to do, and go forth. Do not give it a second thought. As aforementioned, I believe perseverance (along with its fraternal twin discipline) is one of the MOST important life skills one can possess.
     Please note these are not just skills that one is born with. This is not something you either have or you don’t. In fact, every instinctual desire we are born with is programmed to fight it. Humans by nature, prefer taking the easy road, and or doing the bare minimum with respect to the accomplishment of any particular task or goal. Why do more than you have to? To go “above and beyond the call of duty” is not a natural inclination. That’s why they give medals for this. The point is, we are lazy. Nothing to be upset or ashamed about, that is simply the deal. What my illustrations are geared at demonstrating, is that perseverance and discipline are not inherent in our DNA. Thus it takes proactive, behavioral modification to perfect these skills; and that takes practice. Plain and simple. It is realizing the steps one must take to achieve a given goal and following through on the same.
     In other words, don’t feel bad that you aren’t looking forward to work, or don’t want to sit down and finish that report (God, have I been there). Perseverance and discipline mean that you simply bear the frustration or discomfort, you co-exist with it all the while moving closer to your goal. You don’t have to like it, you may hate every second of doing it. But in the end, when you persevered and accomplished what you set out to do, not only do you feel good about your success, but you realize: Yeah, that was pretty Goddamn awful but I got through it in one piece. And maybe most importantly, you realize that you really can achieve anything you put your mind to. Don’t chastise me for the preceding cliché either. Human nature and our ability to far exceed our wildest expectations is absolutely fascinating. There really are very few limits to what one can accomplish through hard work and determination. So unless your goal is time travel, eternal life, or some other physical impossibility, sky’s the limit!

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