Whether you’re writing a novel, painting a portrait, building a company, or embarking on a path of learning and growth in any area, you will experience moments that feel like setbacks. Maybe even detours.
The Path to Progress Is Not Linear
Creation, indeed all growth, happens in a process of peaks and valleys.
This is true for all paths of learning and all processes of change — from how you progress as you learn math, to skill development in a sport or playing an instrument, to your daily habits, to life transitions.
You start out with things moving forward in a rapid pace. Then the pace slows. At some point, everything comes to a stop.
You feel like you’re at a wall. Maybe even like you are regressing.
The path to progress is not linear.
When It Feels Like Nothing Is Working
You will come to a point where you feel like nothing’s working. Everything is getting worse and not better.
The natural tendency is for the limiting thoughts and beliefs to surface here.
When am I going to see results?
This was a bad idea.
Why am I even doing this?
This is going nowhere.
This is resistance.
The emotional charge of this moment often sends us down a spiral of blame and shame. We get caught up in what’s not working and who’s at fault: your teachers, coaches, circumstances, the process, yourself.
Cue the doubts. The should have, would have, could have.
Enter the voice of not enough: smart enough, strong enough, creative enough, whatever enough.
Then you stop doing the work and of course you don’t make progress.
Regression is Inevitable. Resistance to it is Optional.
What if it didn’t have to be like that?
Here’s the thing: the feeling of regression or not making progress is inevitable. But the resistance to it doesn’t have to be.
The energetic pull that causes the spiral of blame, shame, self-doubt and lashing out is completely optional. It is possible to feel the stagnation or regression and not get pulled down the rabbit hole.
When things feel like they are going in the wrong direction, it’s easy to get wrapped up in fatalistic thinking.
If it’s like this now, it will always be like this.
Many people advise to get some distance and look at your situation objectively in that situation.
Good advice, but often easier said than done.
How can you get distance when you’re in it?
All it takes is 5 words.
The 5 Words to Get You Through Your Toughest Moments
Say these words out loud:
This is the part where …
This is the part where it feels like nothing is working.
This is the part where it feels like I’m regressing.
This is the part where it feels like everything is falling apart.
This is the part where it feels like everything is getting worse and not better.
How This Helps
Naming your experience in this way gives you distance from it. It shifts you to an observer role, as if you were watching a movie. As an observer, you’re no longer in resistance.
This is the part where… triggers a corresponding thought: this won’t be like this forever.
This phrase helps you cultivate equanimity and removes you from judgment of yourself or others.
When you say this phrase, you create a field where there are no heroes, perpetrators, or victims, and thus no space for shame and blame. You remove the struggle and the drama.
There’s no adversity for you to overcome; just a moment in time to experience.
These five words and whatever follows them allow you to fully express what you feel and be heard in that feeling, without getting wrapped up in the emotional charge of it.
That emotional charge is what drains your energy and pulls you off the path to progress.
This is the part where ….
No rabbit holes. No fatalistic thinking. No shame. No blame. No struggle. No drama. No adversity to overcome.
It’s just a moment in time. And it will pass. Soon you’ll be on to the next part.
It may not reduce your pain, but it can eliminate your suffering.