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Recently a client going through a difficult time (a divorce) shared with me some advice she was given,     “Go out there and do something different, something that takes you out of your comfort zone, maybe something you are afraid of. Maybe you bungee jump off a bridge or maybe you drive in New York City traffic, but whatever it is- make sure it challenges you. Try hiking a mountain. It will energize you to have completed such a daunting task. This will help you feel strong, capable, and confident.”

Many self help books and seminars also purport the value of such an adventure. At first I nodded in agreement. But then I considered this woman’s journey thus far. The challenges of facing the end of her marriage, the quest for the right attorney, dealing with her children’s issues, her soon to be ex-husband, her concerns and worries about money, the future, her kids well-being, employment, relocation,  are among the myriad of concerns one faces in the transition from married to single. It was then I realized that she is already scaling mountains!

For anyone dealing with transition-employment, relationship, health, relocation-to name a few- you know the challenges are enormous. So is it really necessary to sky dive or go on a wilderness trek to confront your deepest fears? I think not. The transition itself creates opportunity after opportunity to face your fears and to grow. Transition is jam-packed with endless changes. And change takes enormous courage. If that sounds a little dramatic, think about the significant changes you have made in your life- everyone of them, at the time, was terrifying.

During transition we are so relieved to move to “the next step”” that we don’t often take the time to acknowledge all the victories we accumulate as we move forward. Unfortunately, when we ignore or minimize our courage and competence, we do not get to celebrate our confidence and strength. When we deny ourselves moments of self reflection and affirmation, we may continue to feel fragile and unsure.

You can wrestle alligators if you choose, but you don’t really have to. You just need to be mindful not to minimize the alligators you have already wrestled and the mountains you have already climbed as you move through this challenging time of transition. Whatever your personal challenge, do not for a moment doubt the extraordinary effort it takes to work through these transitions.  Perhaps not as dramatic as sky diving, your struggle is neither ordinary nor minimal. This is an extraordinary difficult time in your life and just “showing up” means you are doing a Herculean job.

In my women’s group, there is quiet admiration and high regard for each woman. They are gentle and supportive with each other, yet are often self critical. Frequently, they are unaware of the amazing things they do and rarely do they see themselves as heroic!  Brave women are everywhere-our friends, our co-workers, our family. They care for elderly parents who no longer recognize them, they fight tirelessly for their children with special needs, they stretch pennies and work double time to make sure their kids have hockey skates or ballet lessons. They care for an ailing partner. They stand up for themselves and fight against abuse.  They deal with difficult ex spouses. They fight their addictions and demons. These women are everywhere in our lives- climbing their mountains and wrestling those alligators.

Before you sign on to the idea that you “need to prove” your strength, I would ask you to reflect on your own personal mountains. You are already challenging yourself in ways you probably could never imagine. Take the time to affirm how really difficult this is and that you are doing the best you can. Then give yourself a pat on the back, take a deep breath and continue your climb.

 

 

 

© 2012 Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in private practice and is the author of the award winning From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce now available in Kindle format for $9.99 as well as in paperback.

5 Comments

  1. Nancy on the 01. Jul, 2012 remarked #

    Lovely! Sometimes the quiet victories of living and learning with each day are the very moments when we discover who we are. Save the big moments for another time.

  2. Marilyn on the 02. Jul, 2012 remarked #

    I needed to read this!
    Marilyn

  3. CJ Golden on the 04. Jul, 2012 remarked #

    As women we all too often forget the mountains we have scaled; the heights to which we have climbed; the strength we have within us – in every step of our lives.
    Let us never forget how we have grown and continue to grow as our paths take us – always – to new and, sometimes difficult, places.

  4. Daniela on the 04. Jul, 2012 remarked #

    really informative blog thanks for sharing and keep posting!

  5. Luzia Mendes on the 06. Jul, 2012 remarked #

    thanks for the excellent information!

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