When a person joins a gym for the first time, they see the treadmills and weights as their new best friends. Next come endless hours of sweating and grunting while lifting more and more each week. They look at their progress two or three months down the line and don’t see the chiseled arms or six pack abs that they dreamed of during all of those painful sessions. Why is this? The pebble that they are tripping over is the high sugar and greasy fast food diet that they have had for 15 years. They see the big mountain of exercise and training, but miss the seemingly small detail that stands in the way of progress regardless of how many hours they spend on the elliptical.
When someone enters a life of recovery from a destructive behavior like substance abuse, many times they see the abstinence as the goal. While abstaining from ingesting harmful substances is a cornerstone, it is but a beginning of the climb to the top. It has been said that if you take the alcohol away from alcoholism you are stuck now with the ISM- I, Self , Me. The substance use or other behavior one uses to avoid the “ism” is merely of a deeper malady. The hurts, shame, guilt, and a thousand other forms of self loathing have to be dealt with if one is to get better. If the things that caused one to numb their feelings originally aren’t addressed , the destructive behavior will repeat itself. The internal self must manifest change and it cannot be done by changing the outside. These old ways of behaving will always trip us up until they are examined and reframed.
Many times when a person decides to change their life, they go on a shopping spree ,get plastic surgery, or move to a new city. However, these things are window dressing on a decaying house. There once was a man who went walking in the woods by a beautiful creek ,but noticed that the shoreline was littered with garbage. He decided to spend the afternoon removing the debris in an attempt to beautify the area. After this task, he felt proud of himself and went home. He came back the next day to admire his work only to become deflated at another accumulation of trash. The man took a deep breath and cleaned it up again. This cycle continued for about a few weeks until in great frustration he decided to follow the creek to its origin. When he arrived there he found that there was a landfill at the mouth of the creek and that is why it kept accumulating garbage. The moral of the story is that if you don’t go deeper to find the source, the trash will continue to accumulate and you will constantly trip over it no matter what you use to cover it up.
Next time you take a hike and have a clear destination in mind, keep mind of the rocks and and branches that could twist your ankle or break a leg. The big obstructions are clear, the things we pay little attention to are the ones that will take us out every single time. In order to take on the largest task of all, life, awareness of the tiny details can be the key to unlocking massive growth and change.