It can incredibly difficult to step back and evaluate the progress you’re making when all you can see is what stands against you. In fact, struggling with depression, anxiety or even just a momentary pit of despair means that we’re already forming our thoughts and perspectives from a negative bias.
When you vulnerably confess your hurts, your habits, your hang ups- you may see weakness. You may see defeat. You may see the impossibility of ever getting to the other side of the place you’re in.
But from the other side, I see the courage of showing up when everything within you wants to disappear. I see the strength it took you to continue moving past what you thought would break you. I see the wisdom you’ve gained while becoming more self-aware of where you need to grow in the process.
Today I want to tell my friends, how much better you’re doing than you think you are. I know it can be hard to see when pressures ensue and that’s why I wanted to bring it back to your attention. Here are 10 reasons you may have overlooked.
You’re handling things much differently than you would have in the past.
Don’t get so caught up in perfection that you forsake the worthy recognition of progression up to this point. If you’re reacting to your current circumstances with more thoughtfulness than you would have maybe 5 years ago- that’s big progress. If you’re placing a pause between your thoughts and actions and becoming more considerate about the following steps you’re going to take- friend, that is progress. That doesn’t mean we’ll always make flawless decisions, but it does mean you’re at least being proactive about how you approach life. Never underestimate how important this is.
You’re becoming more self-aware of the thoughts and feelings you’re struggling with.
Being able to identify and put words toward what it is you’re feeling and thinking internally is emotional intelligence. And emotional intelligence is not something that everyone has. The more self-aware you are, the better your chances are of addressing the areas where you need practice and healing. Understanding this puts you in the first steps toward the right direction.
You’re moving forward in spite of how you feel.
I know some days it feels impossible. I know sometimes you may wonder how you’ll find the courage to take the next step. But you do. Every day. You show up and give life another chance and that speaks volumes. Sometimes it takes time for our emotions to catch up to our actions. But if you keep investing in those things which help you move forward, they will add up to the bigger picture.
You’re giving yourself the space to start over.
Often times the hardest person to be patient with is ourselves. You’re constantly convinced you should be farther along than you are and making less mistakes than you do- but these can send us into unrealistic extremes. By giving yourself room to grow in spite of yourself, you have proven you understand the balance of grace. You’re choosing to put the disappointments of yesterday behind you and start over. It’s not about falling down seven times, but getting up eight. If God renews His mercies upon you each day (Lamentations 3:22-23), surely you can spare some for yourself. This is a part of life’s learning process.
You’re more aware of your triggers.
Today you understand where your potential pitfalls and triggers are, in a way that you weren’t aware of in the past. This gives you an advantage that you didn’t have before. Again, this is major progress friend. Because it leads me to my next point…
You have a better idea of the boundaries you need to set to put yourself on a better path.
While we don’t always act perfectly on the boundaries we need to create in our own lives, having an idea of them shows growth in your self-awareness. By limiting the habits that are prone to take you into a downward spiral, you are simultaneously being proactive about the direction you aspire to be in. And being proactive in the right direction is always a good sign.
You’re seeking support even when it feels shameful and scary.
When you call that friend, reach out to your support group, or seek out your therapist or counselor and reveal the most authentic parts of what burdens you- this is courage. This is strength. Many times this goes against the more self-preserving parts of you. I hope that you realize what an overcoming this is, especially when your first defense may have been to withdraw, isolate and resort to your own doubts. Reaching out is more proof that you’re maturing much more than it may feel like you are.
You’re using your experience to help someone else.
Whether it’s 1 person, 10, or 10,000 people- every time you utilize your hardest experiences to become tethered to those who are struggling with compassion or become the type of person that you once needed for another…man is that awesome. Because God uses broken people like you and me to help broken people like you and me. This is how we become His hands and feet in this world. This is us pulling purpose from pain. This is you becoming the key that may have just help set someone else free. And that is more powerful than you may realize.
You realize that you’re a work in progress.
While at times you may feel discouraged about all of the things you think that you’re not right now- it’s worth looking at more productively. It’s a good thing that you’re aware of what you need to work on. It’s good that you have convictions about what you need to improve. It’s important to see ourselves and not be blinded by denial or pride. These are good qualities. However, we don’t want to flip to an extreme of guilt or condemnation either. Seeing these areas as an opportunity to grow and dedicating yourself to the project of working on yourself is an honorable and worthy thing to do. Keep at it.
You’re choosing to be a student of your life.
By deciding to use the hard experiences to learn more about yourself, how to lean into your faith and apply it in future circumstances, you are choosing to become a student of your life. And this is where some of the best learning takes place. You can read scripture all day and preach on social media but it is in the valleys of life where you come to find the measure of your faith and how well you apply what you claim to believe. Through the doubt and the missteps there are still gems of lessons to be learned. And each time you choose to take hold of them you become better for it.
So friend, in spite of it all. Maybe it’s time to take a moment to stop shaming yourself for where you’re not and start celebrating how far you’ve come and how far you will continue to go. Because God is not finished with you yet.