I’m reading this very good book right now which is technically about creating a healthier relationship with food. But I’m also finding it tremendously helpful as a self-help or psychology book in general. Her work is grounded in such helpful belief concepts and almost everything she writes resonates with me on a deep level. I heard about the author on Alanis Morissette’s great podcast, so that could be why.
Yesterday I read a passage with a metaphor that I love.
“A swimmer is leaving one dock for another. Off she swims, looking longingly back at the dock she’s left. Frightened, back she swims and is relieved to be there, until she gazes over at the other dock where she really yearns to be. So she sets out again with more determination to get there.
After enough tries, she keeps swimming until she’s equidistant between the two docks. Floundering and frightened, she knows she’s gone too far to return to the dock she came from and, that being the case, the only realistic choice is to swim to the other dock. Sure, she’s scared, but she knows she’s heading to a better place, so she sets her sights, kicks her legs, and swims off in the right direction.”
I think we face situations like these any time we’re going through a period of growth, upleveling, or hitting an upper limit. We’ve come too far to go back to the way we used to do things, but in the meantime we’re just treading water in the middle of the choppy lake, trying to get our bearings and move towards a healthier, happier way of living. It can feel like we’re stuck. We are genuinely exhausted from all the swimming we’ve been doing, and we still have just as far to go.
But I love the mental image of this tipping point that we will hit. We’ll reach the middle and realize it would be just as hard to go back as it would be to go forward. The old ways don’t seem as comforting anymore or as safe: they’re equally as unsafe as the new ways, from our new vantage point. And once we hit the tipping point, we’re in the clear. The journey ahead might be just as long, but each step we take brings us closer to the life we want, not further away.
The takeaway for me is that when we are deep in the fear, when we want to turn around and go back, when the old way feels easier, our only job is to just keep swimming. To swim out as far as the tipping point, and then the momentum will take over. We might be tired or afraid or confused, but eventually the momentum will take over and we’ll get to a better place.