I have this thing I need to do. I need to sell my house. But I can't sell my house until I get my garbage out of the house. I moved in May, and I worked on it pretty diligently for a while, but then work got overwhelming and I didn't have time. Now its November and I'm still paying for two houses, when I really would rather pay for one. But because it has been so long, it feels like a colossal failure on my part. Just the thought of how long it has taken me to fix this problem is embarrassing and difficult to face. So instead of working on it, I put it off even more, and the problem just gets bigger and bigger.
I was talking to my therapist about this problem, and she said this thing. It doesn't matter how you handled it in the past, it only matters that you are going to take care of it now.
It seems obvious, but it made a difference in my perspective. I can't change the past, but I can fix the issue now. And then it will be fixed.
I'm also trying to get back to regular exercise. My whole adult life has been spurts of discipline that gets overwhelmed by my busy season and then I have to start over. From my perspective, its just a long history of failure. Its hard to get any measurable progress and therefore hard to continue working this way. I'm an overweight sedentary woman who doesn't belong with the ranks of healthy, athletic disciplined people. I know from experience that getting started on regular workouts is the hard part, but even that knowledge doesn't make it easier.
Spiritually I have felt kind of stagnant for a while now too. For a while I felt like I was growing pretty steadily, but when I moved wards it kind of stopped. There's a whole host of reasons, but it feels like I've lost some of that. In the short term, its kind of hard to see the changes, but over several years its easy to see a difference.
This morning a read a conference talk (look at me preparing for Relief Society!) called Becoming More in Christ: The Parable of the Slope. It kind of fits in with all three of the problems I described. In the talk, the speaker says that Jesus values the slope of progress, not the starting or ending points. Everyone has a different starting point, so even thought our ending point is the ultimately the same, the slope will be different. "Focus on where you are headed and not where you began."
It's very difficult to let go of years of past failures. They cast a pall over your future attempts to improve. They color your perspective on potential future outcomes. History is a bad predictor of future events, but its also the only thing we have.
I heard a quote (in church maybe?) last week that said forgiveness is choosing to not let negative events of the past define how you feel about something in the future. What if I could forgive myself and not allow my own history of failure to determine my own future outcomes? If I just started life as Kim today without the history of failure in my psyche, what would I do with my life now? How would I handle my problems if I didn't even know how they were handled in the past?
Intellectually I know that it is progress that is important. That the slope of the line over the course of my life is more important than the starting point, or even the small downturns that naturally occur. Every time I start a new study plan; every time I turn on the treadmill; every time I carry a box out of my house is the time that could lead me to my goal.
The trick is to actually convince my brain that it is true. My brain likes to tell me that its true for everyone else, but not for me. Cool move, brain.
I did work on my house yesterday. And I did read the lesson for Relief Society today. I haven't exercised yet, but maybe I can fit that in today too. And then I will have had one weekend of success to store up. One weekend of progress.
And progress is the goal.