Recently, we were able to take a trip for some much needed mental and physical rest. While we were there, we did a pretty crazy and arduous hike. The hike is essentially following an old train track straight up a mountain. At certain points, there is no ground under you! Other points, it feels like a 90-degree incline. All this to say, it is a pretty strenuous hike. Along the way, I learned quite a few lessons that can be applied to our mental wellness journeys. These lessons helped me learn to better ease my anxiety and improve my own awareness and mental health. Today we will share these lessons with you!
Lesson 1 - We all move at different paces
Going along this hike, there were people of all different ages, shapes and sizes. We even saw a chihuahua doing the hike! As you can imagine, the really fit people were leagues ahead and they seemed to never need breaks! Sadly, we do not fall into that category; it took us a lot longer to get to the same places and we needed A LOT of breaks. At some point, our friends got tired of waiting and just went ahead to meet us at the top. Hopefully, that paints a picture!
At first, our pride took a hit. Of course, no one likes to be left behind or be the slowest in the group. But as we kept climbing and we saw all the different people around us, some moving slower and some faster, we realized a critical lesson. We all move at different paces but we’re all going to end up at the same destination.
This is especially true in mental health; we all have our different struggles. Some struggles make us move slower, while some require us to take more breaks. Ultimately, we are all moving and will end up at the same place. Don’t compare yourself to others, it serves nothing but to make you feel less than and, in the end, those other people are rooting for you and we all end up enjoying the same view!
Lesson 2 - It's ok to fail
We will be honest and say, years ago, we have done this hike and had failed. We would get close to the top, only to be defeated by the last steep climb before the end. In the past, that climb down was pretty shameful as we would be asked by other climbers how the view was. We’d always answer, “oh it was great” even though we hadn’t seen it. In our minds, every other person doing the hike was making it all the way to the top and we were the lone person not achieving success.
After making it on this most recent hike, we had a huge epiphany. It’s ok to fail! For some of us, it may take multiple tries to get where others can get in one try. However, we still eventually get to the same view. It’s important to recognize that for some of us, it takes longer and there are going to be more trials and tribulations. However, if you try and train, you can and will get there. For those of us who suffer with anxiety, depression etc., this is a very real metaphor. We may fail 100 times, but each failure is building up our minds and inner strength. We may not get there tomorrow, but a day will come when you get to the top. We can’t look at our failures as failures, we should view them as lessons and practice for when we will get to the top. If we don’t stop trying, there is nothing we cannot do.
Finally, this time we tried to practice more awareness of others. As we climbed the hill, we recognized that a lot of people were turning around before the end. We realized that more people are similar to us than we thought. In the past, we were so one track minded that we didn’t notice the others in a similar situation. We felt alone in our struggles, which was not true! That being said, there is absolutely no shame in recognizing when it’s time to take a step back. If we look around, there are many others who have had the same struggles as us and we should be encouraging one another rather than comparing.
Lesson 3 - You define your own success
As we were contemplating lesson 2, we also had a thought shift. Ultimately, who was the one who defined success as getting to the top of the hill? We were the ones who set that success marker. However, as we saw some people go down the hill who did not make it to the top; we recognized that they were actually happy with where they got. Their success markers were not getting to the top, but rather their own definitions of success.
For some of them, success was making it to the view halfway, or getting a certain number of steps in. For some, it was even just getting some fresh air. This led us to realize, our success is defined by ourselves. We define what makes us happy or what is considered successful in life. We don’t need to subscribe to other’s definitions of the word. For our mental health, this was huge.
Don’t compare yourself to others, define what makes you happy and what you want from your life. If reaching the half way point is what you define as success, it’s absolutely valid! So many times, we get caught up comparing ourselves to the rich and the famous. We get caught up comparing ourselves to our friends and family. In truth, it doesn’t matter where they are in their lives, all that matters is that you are happy. We don’t all need to work the 14-hour days to be happy and successful, sometimes happiness is sitting on the couch and relaxing. Don’t compare yourself to others and set your own definition of success!
Lesson 4 - We all carry different burdens and weights
We learned this lesson quite literally! During the hike, we saw people with weighted vests, weights, dogs, etc. We recognized that similar to those of us with mental health struggles, we all carry different burdens and weights. While we can’t physically see the weight of mental burdens, it’s important to recognize that we all carry different weights with us.
These folks with weights were taking frequent breaks, sweating much more and struggling harder than the rest of us. Likewise, for those of us who carry mental weights, we will need more frequent breaks and we will struggle harder to do the same things as others. Recognize that you are building strength and resilience for later. In line with the other lessons, you may fail, you may not get to the top, but that’s ok! You can always try again but you will get stronger while carrying those weights. In the end, you will make it to your definition of success. Other’s may judge us because they cannot see the weight we carry, but it’s important to recognize when carrying these weights, it’s ok to move at your own pace and recognize that we will struggle more than others. It doesn’t make us weak, if anything it makes us stronger!
Lesson 5 - Don't go it alone
The final lesson is one that we discuss often (so apologies to our regular followers!). On the trail, we saw many people cheering one another on. Most of the time, it was random strangers cheering for one another! People would share random words of encouragement or they would talk about the difficulty together. These moments would serve to rally their inner strength, get their frustration out and continue to push forward and persevere.
We also saw people literally helping one another up and down the mountain. Certain parts were so steep that going up or down alone was extremely challenging. In these moments, we were able to witness as strangers, friends and family helped one another. They would extend their hands or hold onto each other for support as they made their way up and down.
Additionally, for us personally, there was the thought of those waiting for us at the top. We knew that they were there waiting and there was no other option but to make it. Even more, we had the thought of all of you Tomodotchi’s pushing us to go further. As this post was writing itself in our head, we wanted to reach the top so we could share this story with all of you. As the going got tough, we could feel the warmth and support that all of you have given us.
The lesson here being, there are many ways that we receive support from the community. Whether it be words of encouragement, actual support or the persona of the whole group of people. Having a community can really help get us through difficult situations. For us, just the thought of the community of Tomodotchi’s was enough to push us forward and to keep taking that next step.
If you are looking for a community, we have a peer-to-peer Facebook group that you are welcome to join. We grow, share and support one another through daily struggles and tribulations. We aren’t mental health experts and it’s not a formal support group, rather it’s just a family of mental health warriors trying to get by in this crazy world. There are no barriers to entry so please come and join the family!
Bringing it home
Your life is unique and your own. There is no need to move at someone else’s pace. Ultimately, you define success and happiness in your life. We all carry different weights and burdens and we all need the help of friends, family and even strangers. As you go through different challenges in your life, try to remember your strength and fortitude and don’t compare your progress to someone else’s. We will all get where we are trying to go in our own time. We hope these lessons can help ease your anxiety and help you in your own mental wellness journey. At the very least, you know that many of us have share these thoughts and you are truly not alone.
One of our goals here at Tomodotchi is to help normalize the conversation of mental health, if this interests you, we have an article on our top 7 misconceptions of mental health. Additionally, at the time this was written, the holidays are around the corner. If you feel particularly anxious, you can check out our article on seasonal affective disorder. If you are looking for ways to explain to others how they can help ease your anxiety, we wrote an article on better communication for understanding different personalities and our our list of 3 things that negatively and positively impact our mental health. Finally, as we always end with this, if you are dealing with a bout of anxiety or depression, we wrote an open letter to remind you how amazing you truly are!
TLDR; Through a tough hike we recognized life lessons for mental wellness. That we shouldn’t compare our pace to others, we define our own success, it’s ok to fail because you are still making progress. Further, we all carry different weights and burdens in our lives and community helps push us further along.
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As an added bonus for our readers, we like to include a game of where are the Tomodotchi Pets. They’ve been hidden in 2 of the pictures within this post. Can you find them all? See below for what they look like!