Start with the smallest step, the easiest thing.
Often, when I am with a new client, I will ask what they want to change. They always have a list of things they don’t like about themselves or their behavior.
Then, I ask “what is the easiest thing to change?” They are always surprised: they feel they should start with the hardest. But that is a mistake. Start with the easiest and get a feeling of victory, of good accomplishment.
Maybe you have heard that “success breeds success.” That is what it is about. If you succeed at an easy thing, then you feel more confident when trying something a little harder.
Sometimes, I ask what is your favorite task to do. Then, do that one first so that you enjoy it and feel good about yourself. You see, it is not that hard to start building the good feelings.
Let’s say that you have a hard time getting ready for school in the morning. Where do you start? What do you like most, or dislike least. Start with breakfast? Start with getting washed and dressed? Pack your stuff? Do your morning chores? One person liked walking his dog. So, he got washed and dressed first, grabbed a sandwich that he ate while walking his beloved dog. It is of course important to keep an eye on the time: know how long you have to do something before you have to get out of the house.
One girl hated math class because she didn’t understand anything and felt stupid. She felt she couldn’t ask the teacher because others would laugh or think her dumb. So she kept quiet and felt discouraged and scared she wouldn’t pass the class. Well, if she didn’t understand, it is sure that others didn’t understand either. If she asked a question, they would be grateful that someone had the guts to step forward. So, the girl might commit to asking one question in math class today. She would find it easier to ask a couple the next class. She maybe could understand better and feel encouraged to continue. She could also commit to go to after school tutorials. She could also make the decision to go on the web to Khan Academy or some other program to study the math she didn’t understand. Maybe she could ask a friend or a brother/sister/parent to help with going online to work out the problems.
I am sure you can see how it works. No step is too small, too easy. Start with the easy stuff and you will have the courage to then go on to more difficult things. Think of the baby learning to walk. He goes from chair to sofa to other chair…he doesn’t venture clear across the room at first. This takes time and more confidence. Little by little, he learns to let go of the furniture and strike out on his own.
All you need is one little step to start with!