Finding a path to emotional wellness is more challenging than clickbait headlines or upbeat advertising leads us to believe. The encouragement we seek from friends, family, and therapists doesn’t making doing the work involved any less difficult, tedious, or frustrating. Progress is often the result of slow, subtle, small incremental changes over time that can be hard to celebrate, they’re just so… mundane.

It takes longer than we expect, to pull ourselves out of our worst bullshit and move on to better moments.

It takes more work than we expect to learn better self-care, better communication practices, and emotional resilience.

The work we put in often goes wholly unrecognized and unrewarded.

The slogans, homilies, and aphorisms of wellness and positivity can become toxic when forced or inauthentic, or if we just don’t feel any sense of progress or forward momentum.

Our negative self-talk can undermine our progress in therapy.

It’s just all very much a bit hard than it can appear to be through the lens of someone selling us on the idea of wellness, or on some particular treatment plan, new Rx, or catchy buzzword-laden new fad. Like it or not, there’s still quite a lot of actual real effort involved in finding our way through life to become the person we most want to be. It’s complicated.

You’re going to need to “do your own homework” on this one.

There’s no quick route to success in most things. That’s true of mental health, too. No shortcuts. No magic tricks. No cure-all easy “take one pill each day” remedy. No fancy retreat. No instant win. Mental health and emotional wellness do not exist on a fucking scratch-it. It’s not a lottery.

There are verbs involved. Your results will vary. You’ll likely get the best results on the things you are seeking to change or improve upon in your life because you want those changes and improvements. Shit that feels like an obligation or something you are doing to benefit someone else (or because you tell yourself you “have to”) won’t get reliably good results quickly – and it’s already a fairly slow process. I don’t say that to be discouraging; do you. I’m just pointing out that the things you change because you want them are easier. Relatively speaking. For some values of “easy”. It’s all very much still a lot of work.

You can not actually purchase the results you seek.

Do the work.

Seriously. If there’s somewhere in life you want to go, you aren’t going to get there standing still. That’s just real. Do something to move in that direction. Start small. Hell, stay small – small steps are still steps.

I still write about the value in practicing specific practices because a) I still find value in them and b) I’m still fucking practicing. The slow improvements of incremental change over time can seem tedious sometimes. There’s still improvement. It’s just slow – but the slow improvements have tended (for me) to mount up pretty reliably over the years (yes, years – as I said; it’s slow). It’s been worth it. Life is that much better now than it was then. I enjoy my experience of myself that much more now than I did then.

Am I free of stress and sorrow? Nope. Have I tidied up all my chaos and healed all my damage? Nope. Is life effortless and easy? Nope. I’m still 100% made of human, and it’s a very human experience. I’m just saying it’s better, and even, generally, very good. It’s been worthwhile to put in the time and effort to get here. I still went to bed last night without noticing I left the front door unlocked after taking the trash out. Human. I still sometimes say something hurtful to someone I care about. I’m still often way too hard on myself. So human.

It’s still worth the effort to improve my self-care, to learn to communicate more skillfully, to learn to slow down and be fully present, to learn to be kind and compassionate, and to heal. There are just a lot of verbs involved. Some days it’s easier to see where I’ve failed than to see how far I’ve come in such a short time. That’s just real – and also part of being so very human.

I sip my coffee contentedly. It’s a good morning to begin again.