Small Steps

My phone just showed me a picture from one year ago today. In it I’m on a colorful boat in Mexico City with my family. I reminisce about how different things were. In the photo, our smiles offer no hints of awareness of how much will change in a few short days.

It was a time before constant hand sanitizing and mask wearing. A time before we knew the term social distancing and didn’t cringe when hearing the worn-out phrase “the new normal.” It was before we retreated into our homes as much as we could to try to keep ourselves and others safe.

The steps where change is initiated are often hard.

Sometimes we are aware of it. We feel a gentle pull and growing discomfort with things staying the same. Our reasons for change build until we decide we can’t continue the way things are. Yet there is comfort in knowing we can take steps back to where we were – the worn and familiar place we know. We can do it our own way. 

Other times, change is imposed and we are blissfully unaware until the moment it occurs. A one-way door closes and we cannot walk back through. 

We are instinctively opposed to these kinds of changes we haven’t chosen for ourselves. We dig in our heels. We bang on the door, first asking politely and thinking there’s been some mistake, then demanding with increasing urgency to be let back in. We don’t want to let go.

But then we turn around. We accept and acknowledge that things have changed and there is no other way but forward. So we take a step. We do what we have to do, little by little. A few steps followed by stopping. Resting a little. Crying a little. Encouraging ourselves. Encouraging others. Another step. And our steps grow, more and more. 

And now we look back. We remember a time a year ago when we took that first small step. Over this past year, so many little steps followed. Each one leaves a reminder of the ways we’ve moved forward and transitioned through change.

Of the many steps you’ve taken, what do you celebrate the most today?

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.