Words mean so much to me, and I believe in their power as much as I believe in anything else in this life. If I’m honest though, I don’t think I allow the words of those around me to really, deeply and completely strike a chord within me often enough. I am always thankful for a moment when that happens so fast and so out of my control that it knocks me back and forces me into a new perspective. I was texting my mom recently about my arm and how I have been weight training hard and my bone seems to be reacting with more pain than normal. I was concerned that maybe I should stop lifting as heavy or change my goals. Her response was this:

“I just hear your Grandaddy saying, ‘Just hold what ya got, little girl! Slow and steady. Just don’t get in a hurry.’ He had all of these ways of steadying everything up before moving forward. So your job is to hear your bone saying similar calming, steadying things through the pain messages. Once the pain stops again, move on.”

These words had their own way of knocking me off my feet. I went to my mom unsure about my exercise plan, and was smacked in the face with advice that applies to every aspect of my life right now. This past year I moved back to my hometown to heal from depression, save some money, and be around loved ones. I didn’t realize that I was stunting my own healing process by equating moving home to failure, and trying to race around to prove to myself that I was still making progress. If I am not moving forward I must be wasting time, right? Fear and shame were preventing me from taking a knee, and allowing myself time to just sit and listen to what my pain was trying to tell me. Ignoring my needs was beginning to inject every aspect of my life with its own special brand of anxiety, from my fitness routine, to my dating life, to my future career, and so on.

I had no idea how much I needed an affirmation of steadying. Now, more than ever, I need to be cornered by the idea of slowing down. In fact, I need to be locked in the room by that idea and forced to reconcile with stillness until I am able to understand its rightful function in my life: Stillness as a means of productive preparation. Stillness as a space for developing self-compassion and patience. Steadying up before moving forward. Everything that is meant to get done will, in its own time, no matter how much hurrying I do. In weight lifting, rushing myself can cause injury and set me back even more. In life, making impulsive decisions to avoid sitting still has the same potential for set back. I will be forced to wait, through whatever circumstances that may present themselves, as long as I am supposed to wait, either way.

If I can view it like this, I realize there isn’t really ever “idle time” anyway. Pressures, whether they manifest as physical pain or mental anxiety, can be important tools for making adjustments on my path, if I only stay still long enough to learn how to use them productively. This is time that I can work my mental muscles and strengthen my relationship with myself and my goals. I can realize that my goals should be a positive force driving me forward, not a negative means of self-inflicted suffering. If I use stillness correctly I can build confidence right there as I steady my footing, before I take off again with newfound explosive power, like I know I will in good time.

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