We've all been in crisis situations where we've heard this phrase. I've advocated people do this countless times. I've said it offhandedly, just tossing it out as a shared understanding, a flippant saying everyone knows. I've offered it as a genuine, meaningful piece of advice with all the empathy I can muster behind it. And I've said it to myself, over and over again when getting overwhelmed. But for the life of me, I'm not sure if I've ever done it before today.
One step at time got me up a flight of stairs when my legs felt like they would buckle underneath me. One step at a time kept me breathing through the constant threat of hyperventilation. One step at time checked off tasks one by one when the simplest requirement was so overwhelming my mind panicked in response.
And I had to talk myself through it, every single step. "You're just going up the stairs, that's all you're doing." "You're just breathing, that's all you're doing." "You're just shampooing your hair, that's all your doing." Just. Just. Just. Because anything more was impossible.
I have to believe there will ultimately be value in this. I have to believe my empathy will be stronger, my caring more genuine, my understanding improved. I have to believe that this is how growth happens. Because that belief keeps me taking those steps, one step at a time.