Tiny Brave Steps
One day, when our sweet Avery was about a year old, Ryan and I were outside with her. She was just starting to walk, at that cute wobbly toddler stage when every step is a celebration that can end quickly in a fall on a diapered bottom.
On this particular day, she was toddling along pretty well when she got to the edge of the sidewalk. Unable to stop her momentum, she took a huge step down onto the grass with one foot and then she froze like a statue and started screaming at the top of her lungs. She was terrified of how the grass felt.
Ryan, always the patient parent, quickly came to her rescue. He picked her up, hugged her, patted her back, and put her back on the sidewalk. Then, he squatted down right in front of her at eye level, and gently grabbed her chubby hand. He said, “It’s okay. Here, feel it with your hand.” Cautiously, with her hand in his, she did, and her tears subsided as she forgot her fear and focused on the feeling of the grass.
Then he said, “Now, let’s feel it with your foot.” Holding onto her, he grabbed her little foot and rubbed it gently across the blades of grass. She looked at him and smiled as the grass tickled her toes.
Then he backed up, held out his hands and said, “It’s okay. You can take a step to me.”
She focused on his eyes, reached her hands out and stepped. And then she giggled. And then she took another step. And she giggled again. Pretty soon, she was in his arms and they both were giggling as he fell backward into a heap on the ground with her in his arms.
It’s a memory I will cherish forever.
I want you to imagine this scene in your mind the next time you are resisting doing something that feels scary. Never ever EVER would Ryan have said to her, “That’s ridiculous. It’s just grass! Push through the fear and walk!”
Yet, so many times, we do just that to ourselves. We try to push ourselves through things that as adults, we know logically shouldn’t be scary. It makes no sense, but the fear is real.
I wonder what would happen if instead of pushing through that very real fear, we all practiced Ryan’s parenting technique with ourselves.
What if we paused when the fear arrives, giving ourselves a hug and a moment to recover back on the safety of sidewalk? And what if then we just took the tiniest step, running our hands over the blades of grass of whatever it is we are afraid of so we could feel the texture a bit? And then, what if we looked into the eyes of someone who believes in us and who is telling us we can do it, and then what if we took just ONE tiny step? And then another? And then another?
No more pushing through.
No more berating.
No more ignoring the fear.
More paying attention when we feel resistance.
More slowing down.
More feeling the emotions.