Mental Health

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What to Do When the Wheels Come Off.

Published: 2020-11-17
What to Do When the Wheels Come Off.
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From time to time, Life hands us setbacks. They can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but however they look, they can slow our progress, stop it for a while, or even bring us to our knees.

This can be especially distressing when you've been focused on a clear goal, striving daily to achieve it and doing everything possible to get there. And then wham! Something unexpected tries to derail you.

Perhaps you feel like you've been knocked off balance. Maybe you're suddenly doubting yourself, or you've been shaken up a little. Maybe it's even got you questioning your path or how to get where you want to be.

All of that is just stuff in your head. They're just random thoughts and unless you choose to assign meaning to them, they don't have mean anything at all. Imagine that those unwanted thoughts have wandered into your mind through an open door on one side of your head. You can just imagine opening a door on the other side and letting them wander straight out again. Then deliberately insert some positive thoughts that counteract the negatives ones. Choose thoughts that will inspire you to keep moving forward.

If something has slammed you to the point that you’re feeling overwhelmed and you're not quite sure how to get yourself back on track, here's one simple way to begin.

It is said that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." This is attributed to Lao-Tzu, a brilliant Chinese philosopher who wrote a lot about the Tao. More correctly, the proper translation from Chinese is, "The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet."

I love both of these statements. At first glance, they might seem to have almost identical meanings. They are thought to be interchangeable but in fact, each is quite different from the other.

Let's take a look at the less-well-known but correct translation first. "The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet." This is such a beautiful statement. It's filled with optimism and hope. It's about looking at where you are, right here, right now, accepting what is, accepting where you're standing now, and not looking behind you. It’s about leaving the past where it belongs.

It's about seeing what needs to change in yourself or your life. It's about preparing for and continuing with forward movement. It’s about growth. It's brilliant. It's exciting. It's empowering. It's filled with anticipation.

It leads straight to the more widely known version: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." This is also very beautiful. It teaches patience, determination and perseverance in the face of a goal that seems so far away. It teaches gentleness in the art of change. You don't have to do it all at once.

It offers hope and encouragement if you've found yourself on a difficult path, especially after a setback when there might be the temptation to give up, or not even start something in the first place.

Being aware of what's beneath your feet, and what's at that thousand-mile point will help you to decide where to place your foot in that first step, and in every single one of the others that follow. That first step begins taking you away from where you are now, from whatever it is that lies beneath your feet.

And if you just keep lifting your foot and putting it down, one foot in front of the other, you will continue to move further away from where you are now, and a little closer to where you want to be. The more you do this, the quicker you'll begin to build momentum and feel like you're back on track and heading straight for your ultimate goal once again.

Do not fear putting your foot down in the wrong place. This happens sometimes when you look down at your feet, rather than ahead at your destination, but you can correct the problem. Keep focused on the destination; your feet will follow your eyes.

It's just like if you're driving and you start skidding on gravel or ice. If you look in the direction of the skid, that's where you'll steer your vehicle and you’ll wind up in the ditch or wrapped around a tree (or worse). Instead, you've got to make sure you keep your eyes on the road, focusing on where you want to be and that's where you'll automatically steer your vehicle. 

To get yourself moving again after a setback, first just take a good look at what lies beneath your feet. Where are you now? What do you need to accept about your situation? What is your current reality? What do you want to change about it?

Second: You only have to think about that first step. Once you know your destination and you have a clear vision of it in your mind, lift a foot and set it down again. Stay focused on that vision for your future and keep putting one foot in front of the other. In time, you will be where you want to be.