Stepping Stones – A Useful Metaphor for Sustaining Resilience
By: Deb Maes
October 17, 2012
I hear a lot of positive talk about ‘forward’ movement and lots of negative judgments about ‘backward’ movement. I wonder what are the different ways we could talk about our movement through life, rather than forward and back. We all know, in life it can be tricky finding our way through. There isn’t a Google map with specific directions… It is much like crossing a rapid stream with only some stepping stones to make our way across. We need to find our own way, each at a different part of the stream.
So, at times we do make a step forward and find, as we test the footing, that it isn’t a safe place for us. In this case, it’s wise for us to return our weight back to the place where we last had sure footing and from there have another look for the best way forward.
To me, that doesn’t seem like failure, foolishness, or ‘backward’ movement. It seems like wisdom, to reach out and test for solidness. And, when we get information that it isn’t safe, it is wise to return to a stable place to reassess.
Of course, it can be that the unstable stepping stone could be used as a launching pad to another place which may be bigger, more stable, and so we may still choose to take that risk.
So, I wonder as we contemplate this analogy, what are some of the ways we can talk about the ways we step through life that are more supportive?
Steve says, “I like your comments on forward and backward and thought of another analogy that could be perceived as whole. I call it the balloon effect where we expand and contract during our progression through life.
As beings we start out in life as one, we often find a partner, have children and then reduce back to ourselves in the later stages of life (Sometimes the size of our house reflects this as more bedrooms are needed and then later we withdraw to smaller buildings of less maintenance and expense);
It may be that we grow a business in the early phase and then back off during periods of different demands;
During our journey as we experience new things we can be very passionate and involved in something and then reduce that interest when we are satisfied with the outcome and look for something new”.
Barb says, “Yeah too right. Imagine stepping out to cross the road without careful appraisal. Going forward may mean being wiped out by a mac truck. Stepping back to the curb may mean having a life choice tomorrow”.