Knowing when to back off is also an exercise in wisdom. Sometimes, from that more strategic position, we have better perspectives and see things with greater clarity and internal calm. Only then do we allow ourselves to move forward with greater security.
Taking a step back is also part of personal growth.
Taking a step back is, at certain times, a way to gain more momentum. However, it is difficult to see it this way because for us having to go backwards or just stay still while the world advances, it is interpreted almost as a form of defeat. Perhaps we forget that when it comes to personal growth, it is as essential to know when to take a step forward as it is to understand when it is better to return to the starting line.
Friedrich Nietzsche said that each forward progress is achieved by exercising a specific resistance against oneself. It is true. We do this, for example, by confronting our fears, weakening our insecurities and also tearing down old thought patterns to take on new ones. However, the backward steps also act in many cases as true propellants for becoming, for advancement itself.
“Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself.” – Julia Cameron
After all, life is seldom a straight line. Our existence is often a canvas in which multiple geometric figures in the style of Vasili Kandinski abound. There are circles, spirals, zig-zag times, moments in which everything runs in a straight line and moments in which the mind, body and heart are forced to retreat.
And all this is neither good nor bad. It is part of those brushstrokes that give shape and perspective to what we are.
The importance of knowing how to take a step back
Having to take a step back is not a misspelling; it is an exercise in wisdom. Understanding it in this way would allow us to manage our mistakes, disappointments better, and those inflections of destiny where it is time to lower our heads, collect pride and breathe a good dose of calm and humility.
It is true that it is not easy and that every time we have been forced to back down, we have done it with hurt morals and fallen spirits.
If we experience it this way, it is due to the way in which we have been educated and also to everything that the current society brings us, so obsessed with competition, the ability to achieve our goals.
“Your first step forward in most any situation, should be to take a step back.” – Unknown
They have made us believe that everything worth achieving is ahead; only those who take steps in that direction are happy and achieve victory at the end. Now, what is behind us also contains, in many cases, a whole chest of learning.
A successful career is never accomplished in an upward direction. Often, you have to fall back and take a step back to gain more perspective and then become aware of many things. That learning is highly valuable.
Sometimes we have to “audit” our present moment.
Sometimes life goes by at the speed of light. We hardly have time to think, feel, value, and, why not say it, “audit” our emotions and level of life satisfaction. Occasionally giving us time to review where we are and how we are is top of mind.
Thus, in those moments of introspection and reflection, we can realize that it is better to take a step back. Perhaps that affective relationship should no longer continue. That project we had in mind may no longer be valid or reasonable.
It may also happen that we realize that what we are spending so much time and effort on is not contributing to our progress.
Knowing how to stop and go back is in those circumstances, an act of courage and also of need.
There is no easy route to nowhere: Stepping back is just another action you take to advance your long-term goals.
Not stepping forward does not mean that you are backing down on your life goals. In reality, there is no easy route plan to any destination, and no objective has a shortcut that allows us to arrive earlier and without suffering or pain. Each dimension and each goal carry their time, their stops along the way, their setbacks and unforeseen events.
“Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at your life, in order to take a step forward and move on in it.” – Rashida Rowe
Stepping back from time to time is just as valid act. Furthermore, from a psychological point of view, it is often even necessary. An example, as it was explained in a research carried out at the University of Buffalo by Dr. Mark Seerhty, taking a step backwards allows us to see things with a greater perspective.
It is allowing us a distance to see our reality in the third person. It is a time to reflect on everything we have done and assess new possibilities. Allowing us these setbacks, and living them with adequate emotional calm, gives us greater mental clarity to glimpse new options, learn from what we have lived and made more skillful and innovative decisions.
Necessarily, this does not mean that to achieve any victory, we must first fail. This is not a rule of three; it is merely a strategy of wisdom. After all, we will all make mistakes, and we will all go back one or two steps at some point in life’s journey. Knowing how to do it, seeing those steps again as valuable learning opportunities is what makes the difference.
In the end, we need two things to lead a balanced life – a sense of the world and a sense of ourselves; it’s like breathing in and breathing out. And if you can only get to know the world by stepping out, and losing yourself in experience, you can only get to see the self by stepping back and finding yourself in contemplation. One without the other leads to a kind of madness. So. let’s keep that in mind and live those moments without fear or frustration.