I was at an appointment with my Physical Therapist yesterday and he had me do an exercise that I hadn’t done in nearly a year. The exercise is fairly simple, and fits in with my goals: you just walk. Super-exagerated, super-slow. Lift your knee high off the ground, extend your foot forward, do a controlled fall onto your heel while rolling off the floor with your other foot, transfer weight from one leg to the other, and repeat.
(It feels a bit like The Ministry of Silly Walks. I don’t know if you’ve ever actually tried to do the silly walk, but it takes a lot of control! Control that I still lack.)
When I first did this exercise last year, I felt really frustrated. Like, embarassed even. How could I not be able to do this? It’s just walking! And even though I gave it my best effort, I felt like it was really really difficult.
So anyway. Yesterday, my PT had me do this same exercise. And I still struggled with it, and I got even more frustrated than last time. I told him this, describing how difficult it was, and saying something like “I feel like I haven’t made any progress.”
And he said “no, you have improved a lot. Your second set was actually really solid.”
If I had estimated my progress based on my own subjective feelings, I’d have gotten really discouraged. But having someone to give me a more objective perspective helped me stay focused. I still have a long way to go, but it’s counterproductive to discount all the progress I have made.
What’s my point here? My point is that while you’re working on a skill – whether it’s mental/physical health, a professional qualification, an artistic medium, whatever – you cannot trust your own self-evalution. If you’re giving it your best effort, you will always feel like it’s more difficult than it “should” be. You will always feel like it ought to be easier.
This is where mentorship comes in. Having my PT give me objective feedback on my progress reminds me a lot of professional mentors I’ve had, or music teachers, or any number of supportive people in my life.
If you’re working on a skill, it’s best not to go it alone. You need someone to calibrate your definition of success, to keep you on track, and to give you a more objective measure of how far you’ve come.
To anyone out there struggling, doing your best but feeling like your best is never enough, I have this to say: your best is enough. You are enough. Don’t trust yourself, you aren’t objective. There’s no shame in struggling – everyone struggles – please try to find someone to help you out.
You got this!