“Even as you stumble you are taking a few steps forward”. This is what he said. I had never thought of it that way. And when I thought about this very simple but profound statement, it made me question how I view “stumbling”, “setbacks”, and “mistakes” in my life. We are taught to avoid making mistakes, strive to always be better. But, what if better needs the stumbles and the mistakes.
I had always imagined, “If I stumble, I want to try hard not to fall”. But if a stumble is a few steps forward and in the right direction, then a fall must also be a good thing, right? Maybe we need to fall so that we can gain the strength and momentum to get up as we sit there understanding that the floor is all that lies beneath us and the only way to go is up.
How do we speak to ourselves when we stumble, when we are not always upright going forth with stability and strength? Do we cheer ourselves on? Or do we immediately contract and quietly put our heads down in disappointment at best, or beat ourselves up at worst?
How we see ourselves, how we perceive our stumbles, and how we speak to ourselves is crucial and even more important than the action itself. As we all know, our thoughts create our reality, so how is it that we so easily allow our thoughts to stumble when we do?
As I think about my patterns and how I speak to myself and to my children or loved ones when they stumble, I realize that I am able to differentiate the person from the action, the judgment from the fall, the big picture from the moment, when it’s about others. I offer them a different perspective, which is not always welcome, but it does give them comfort to know that there could be another way to view themselves, whenever they are ready. However, when it’s about me, I am much more critical and not as nice. It is a practice to remind ourselves that stumbling is still taking steps in the right direction, and if we cannot celebrate it yet, we can at least remove the judgment, so that we can create a more positive, more compassionate story to tell.
As we reflect on how we view the “pebbles on the road” and how we may be intent on not tripping over them, we ask ourselves, “Why is it important that I don’t trip if I am gaining momentum as I stumble and possibly advancing as I do so?” If we open ourselves up to the possibility that it doesn’t have to be one specific way, and instead remain curious about the new reality we can create, we might just be one step closer to greatness.