We've all heard the word "overcome" used in pep talks and quotes that are meant to serve as a way of providing us strength and motivation to get through obstacles. If you just google the word "overcome", the top search results are: overcoming obstacles and overcoming obstacles quotes. If you click either of those, it will bring you to a suggestion box of hundreds of motivational quotes all regarding the topic of overcoming difficult events that I'm sure many of us have pinned on our mirrors or walls to remind us to keep going; to keep persevering. I know I have done this.
I have started to spend more time in personal reflection and mindfulness, and I have noticed this feeling of resistance to some of these quotes. I have gone back and re-read some of the quotes I used to look for for motivation and I noticed something changed in how I was viewing the underlying message and I noticed that one of the things that was bothering me about these quotes was the word "overcome". The problem I was having is that the word implies that success only happens once we overcome whatever obstacle you are facing. But what exactly is overcoming something? How do we know when we have overcome something? It creates this never ending search for an achievement that will feed whatever void we feel we are having, whether consciously or subconsciously. Typically from my own introspection and conversations I have had with people it seems to revolve around this common feeling of wanting know your purpose during our time on earth.
Why is this a problem? The problem is, I know from my own experience that it led me down a path of addiction. I was addicted to achievements; to "overcoming" the obstacles but always feeling unsatisfied and lost. I had this notion that when we overcome an obstacle it will mean we will be happy. We will feel that joy and excitement someone feels when they see all of the hard work finally pay off. Why didn't these achievements give me the peace I was seeking? Why was there something inside of me that kept yearning for more? That addiction and continual seeking, led me down a darker path of feelings of hopelessness.
The thing I have learned since I have left my job and spent more time on my own self growth and healing, is that there will always be obstacles and there will always be difficult times. For me on this business journey it has been the struggle with imposter syndrome and feeling like: Who am I to write a blog about these topics when I haven't fully processed my own healing? Who am I to be talking about burnout and depression, when I have no expertise in this field? Who am I to be sharing my story? Who am I to be challenging the status quo when I've barely even been in the PT field and workforce?
I had heard from numerous people, and podcasts, advice on "how to get over imposter syndrome" or "how to overcome imposter syndrome". And again it all ties back to that idea of overcoming an obstacle that is holding us back. See the problem that I have with this is it creates a subtle form of perfectionism. We think that the only way we can do something or have permission to do something is if we are perfect. It creates a sense of perfectionism where we feel like we have to have all of the answers, we have to have all of our emotions and feelings of insecurity in check, we have to have everything in place in order for us to chase after our dreams. So these quotes actually end up keeping us stuck in the same situation(s) always wondering but never really taking that step of courage into the unknown.
Looking back I remember telling myself "I just have to push through and overcome" when I tore my meniscus and needed emergency surgery in PT school. I overcame that and got my doctorate and then it became "I just have to push through and overcome" this feeling of not being enough by having a work ethic like no other and finding a speciality in PT that will help me get my name known. And then it became "I just have to push through and overcome" feeling of being burnt out by working harder and showing grit and perseverance. This cycle continued until I had no more gas in the tank. I was going from achievement to achievement seeking internal peace. Externally, yes, people would tell me how much I had to be proud of and how much I had accomplished...but internally I felt empty, lost, and unfulfilled.
I have no doubt that perseverance and grit have a lot to do with success. But I think that there needs to be a change in our mindsets from "overcoming" to instead verbiage that promotes pushing through obstacles. That change in verbiage in my own self talk has helped to instill in me knowledge and understanding that growth is a never ending process. It has changed my perspective on how I approach difficult things to a similar analogy to a tough workout. We can PUSH THROUGH to the other side, much like how we push through tough workouts, for growth or in this analogy those muscle gains!
I hope that this perspective from my own journey is helpful and that it gives you space to know you are not alone in whatever you are feeling in your own journey. I can only share my experiences, but through sharing my experiences I have not only been able to celebrate my small steps of growth but also hear from people like yourself about your own journey and that for me has been everything and more.
As always I hope that you comment or message me privately to let me know how this impacted you. If you're not comfortable with that please know that even if reading this gives you a bit of hope internally, I am happy with that.
Until next Monday!