A few years ago my husband and I went on a trip to Cape Breton where we cycled the Cabot Trail. If you don’t know, the Cabot Trail is just a wee bit challenging. On the going down side of things, with traffic driving beside you, you smell the strong scent of car brakes overheating for those who don’t down shift. On a bike you feel like an ant, flying down this huge mountain, while the scenery distracts and boggles the mind.
But first there’s getting up that hill! You’re in first gear all the way, positive that you are actually going backwards rather than forwards. What a mountain that was to climb!! Our guide warned us ahead of time and shared a really interesting approach to succeed in mastering the mountain. He said, imagine there is a cage around you, you only have to worry about the two feet in front of you. Don’t look past the imaginary bar of your cage, and it will feel doable. One small bit at a time until you crest that mountain.
We can apply this approach to any action for change we embark on. We want to start exercising, get a new job, write a book, lose weight, and the thought of any of those projects in their entirety seems daunting and overwhelming. So how might we break a challenge down into something that feels doable? Into something that feels like I could succeed at? If I want to be able to bench press 100 pounds (yes, yes I do!) .. I can NOT start with 100 pounds! I have to build up to that, one little bit at a time. If I want to lose 25 pounds, I don’t want to lose it in a week because it will come back ten fold, and twice as fast if I don’t manage it sustainably. If I’ve had a set back – like this past winter, being sick for 8 weeks is a pretty good example – boy was it hard to get back to all the things I love to do. I still haven’t gotten back to all of it. But I’m pacing myself. I accept that if I lift the same weight as before I’ll hurt myself. I accept that if I expect to write a book in a few days I’ll choke. I accept that if I stop eating all together to lose some weight it will be very unhealthy for me. So I do a bit, everyday… some exercise, some writing, some walking… A bit at a time.
This can also be translated into taking things a day at a time like the AA program teaches – just for today I can stay sober. Just for today I can honour myself. If today seems overwhelming – how about just this morning? How about for the next hour I will honour myself. Baby steps are not bad. They are smaller, incremental steps towards a better you.
To continue with the cycling metaphor … I remember cycling in the Laurentians when ahead in the not distant enough distance, was a “hill” we had to climb. Looked like a Tremblant to me. But the funny thing was, the closer I got, the less challenging it looked. I didn’t have to keep seeing it as the mountain that it was, I could see it as the piece I had to tackle right in front of me, the next two feet.
We can make a mountain out of a mole hill. We can also make a mole hill out of a mountain, two feet at a time.