One of the most exciting things I’ve experienced was watching my niece learn to walk. It didn’t happen overnight; there was a long time of her getting comfortable at different stages of scooting, standing and moving, but one day it all came together, and she hasn’t stopped moving since. I thought about her today because it made me realize just how important those little steps are – a fitting metaphor for dealing with mental health challenges.
I’ll be honest – I used to think the idea of baby steps was nonsense. I couldn’t see how it was ever going to help me deal with my mental health issues, and it felt like a waste of time. Looking back, I realize one of the main reasons I felt this way was because I didn’t really understand what I was doing or why. What I wanted was to cure myself of mental illness, and what I was told to do was to take it one day at a time. That can be frustrating!
As time went on, I learned more about what it means to take baby steps toward progress. I started to see how my mental health connected with other aspects of my life. Once you notice things like that, it’s hard not to see. I also realized there will be times where I take a step backward or don’t progress in the way I’d wanted, and how common that is. Taking baby steps toward wellness means incremental growth, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for error.
So let me back up – what do I mean by “baby steps”? Basically, I’m referring to the little steps we make toward growth in our lives. Whether that’s adding something new to your daily routine or focusing improving in a specific area of your life, baby steps are just one of the many ways that we refer to the little steps people make toward growth. And I’ve learned that these little steps can often be some of the most important aspects of our mental health journeys.
Sometimes overcoming our mental health challenges, or learning to live with mental illness, feels like we’re learning to walk in a new way. There are new things to watch out for, a new way to carry ourselves. There are challenges we previously didn’t know about it, and we’re as sure to fail as we are to succeed some of the time.
But we can’t forget the growth we’ve made and the work we’ve put in, just like my niece when she was learning to walk. She put the work in, and even though it didn’t always make sense to her, it was a joy to witness when it all came together. And it’s the same for our mental health, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Even though they might feel inconsequential, each and every step is an important building block toward mental wellness. And it is my sincere hope for all of you reading that one day, it all comes together, and it will be a beautiful thing to see.