Always a work in progress

Elisa A Escalante/ LCSW / 2-17-2021

Ever notice that we seem to change drastically in 5-7 year increments? At least, I would hope so. It’s the growth process, meets new people, meets new environments, takes on new challenges, gains wisdom and so on. Change means growth, growth means change. It’s also terrifying and painful at times. It’s not always easy or possible to see that there is progress even in the most uncomfortable and tragic things that happen to us.

Many people have this dire mental need to feel secure, to have routine, to have trust with those in their lives, to have a sense of purpose and order in the environment they choose to surround themselves with. However, sometimes that order and routine that we worked so hard to establish gets torn a part and shredded to pieces right before our very eyes. Sometimes, everything we thought we knew is suddenly gone, faster than we could even process it.

Will we have all the answers at any point? I’m afraid most likely…. not. Will we get to a point where it’s all figured out and there is no more growth to be had? Again, I hope not! To go unchanged means to no longer welcome growth and progress. Yet we do tend to shy away from these terrifying progressions. They’re discomforting, there is so much anxiety in the unknown.

If you ever found yourself looking at someone and wondering why they refuse to change. Why do they continue to sabotage? Why do they consistently destroy their lives? Why do they stay living in misery? Because progress, though it sounds ideal, forces us to sit in the unfamiliar. On a deep mental level to our very core, most of us hate unfamiliar. This is why you may notice that a large amount of your progress may not have stemmed from a random epiphany, but rather, a rude awakening that came crashing down and forced you to uproot, break away from others, find a new lifestyle, have to explore a whole new sense of purpose etc.

Will there be progress? Will we be able to see it even if it’s right in front of our faces? Well, it all depends on how we measure progress. In terms of mental progress, there is little that society emphasizes on this subject. We tend to measure progress in money, status, reputation, labels etc. Even if those very things are deteriorating our mental health and leading to a downward spiral, if we see it as progress, we may be failing ourselves.

What does mental progress look like?

⁃ Increasing our personal self care

⁃ Gaining insight into our triggers as well as the most helpful coping mechanisms

⁃ Learning boundaries

⁃ Removing the baggage and toxicity from our lives

⁃ New adventures and exploration

⁃ Building meaningful friendships and tightening the bonds with those that love us and care

⁃ Professional development toward a career or subject matter we are passionate about

⁃ Finding ways to laugh

⁃ Finding our balance in all realms: social, spiritual, physical, mental, professional, relational etc

Sometimes people have incredible mental progressions and do not come close to giving themselves credit for it. Why? They’re hung up in status, financial gain, power and/ or labels. When we are not excelling in one area, it does not mean we aren’t making incredible progression in another. In fact, losing in one area can actually equal some gains in another.

Perspective can be incredibly powerful when people are going through the hardest times of their lives. Don’t cave, don’t fold. Even when all hope is lost, I believe that it is curiosity that often will keep a person going beyond so much pain. What’s next in the journey? Where can we progress next? What can we reach for next? Can we learn ourselves well enough to do it better next time? Happy progression, and always remember it involves some level of mental distress through the journey.

Published by functionallymentall

Social Worker, Writer, USAF Veteran

One thought on “Always a work in progress

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