Enemies of the Valley
They come and try to dwell. They hover, like vultures, watching and calculating your every move. Sometimes, you can sense them. Even if you can’t see them, you can feel them and are ready to defend. Other times, they are subtle even to your vigilant awareness.
Grabbing a hold of your mind and heart without you realizing it, they send you down a spiral you fervently try to avoid. There are probably many enemies to the valley, but there are three that I often face: Comparison. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Ungratefulness.
She comes like an old friend, even though she is no ally. Familiar with your patterns and habits, she slips into your mind and makes herself at home. Sometimes, she goes unnoticed. Only whispering her questions and “if onlys” when you give her room to talk. Other times, she comes in boisterously. Thundering, she thrusts you down the Instagram Rabbit Hole (phrase courtesy of Olive Moore) or throws down her list of “if onlys” and demands you look, listen, and lament. She holds your face, fixing her eyes on you making you see all the things you lack encouraging you to enter the “shoulda-woulda-coulda” conversation.
Comparison is no friend to the valley. She moves your focus from what is real and true, to highlight reels. She thrives on manipulating your wishful thinking. Turning hopeful dreams into a competition of who can do it first or better. She likes to show up on the days when things are especially slow and you’re feeling discouraged. She likes to join in on the mindless social media scrolling, you know the one, it happens usually when there’s nothing to do and you want to “pass time”. She gets excited when you pass a photo or status that gives you the feels. She preys on it. She’s amazing at stealing an opportunity to celebrate and replacing it with thoughts and lies that lead you to invite jealous and envy. She does everything she can to twist your reality. To cause you to lose hope in your valley. She encourages you to complain, to only look at what’s not working, what’s not happening. She extends a hand to Ungratefulness welcoming him to the party.
He’s annoying, but easy to be around. He literally has nothing good to say. When Comparison finishes her presentation, Ungratefulness waltzes in and amplifies everything. He builds his case on “what about me” and the things you lack. Comparison likes to show you what you lack and how you appear to not measure up, Ungratefulness likes to get you to complain about it. If he can get you talking, griping about what isn’t, he can keep you from seeing what you do have. And when he’s done that, he’s won. Ungratefulness is easy to fall into especially in the valley. It’s easy because when the valley is slow and nothing seems to be moving or shifting it’s harder to point out the things that are amazing and moving. Ungratefulness likes to reminisce on what was and hype up what’s to come. It’s that middle space, where it’s not as good as it used to be and not quite the ideal moment that he weasels in. He’s not great at celebrating what is and choosing what’s before him. Of course, this trio isn’t complete without FOMO.
Ah…FOMO. I personally hate FOMO. I feel like it is the song Comparison and Ungratefulness sing once they’ve got you where they want you. FOMO is the enemy built on lies. Lies that echo you’ll be forgotten or left behind; that you’ll be replaced---excluded. It’s the lie that says if you don’t show up or do x, you won’t matter and you’ll miss out on the greatest thing ever. It’s the lie that says your valley isn’t enough. FOMO comes in waves. Sometimes it is strong, felt deeply within the core of who you are. Other times it is like a whisper. FOMO is the enemy that encourages you to not celebrate the progress of someone else. FOMO is the enemy that gets it stamina from comparison and ungratefulness. When comparison enters, FOMO takes root. Often small, but is fed by the complaints and thoughts wielded by comparison and ungratefulness. FOMO creates illusions with it’s “what ifs” distorting truth and clouding your vision.
Comparison. FOMO. Ungratefulness.
They are not allies. They are not your support system. They are the enemies of the valley. These are three enemies I often find myself facing in my valley. There are days, I don’t feel strong enough to fight. I don’t feel capable of overcoming but I try. I don’t brush the moments off. I identify them. I identify what I’m feeling. I pause. I become acquainted enough to know which enemy is here and to be prepared for the next time.
When comparison comes, we do a funny dance. When she makes one of her obvious arrivals, I roll my eyes and dismiss her. I don’t engage because I know what’s true. But on the days when she’s subtle, when she switches up her routine and catches me off guard, I find myself walk down the path with her, fully engaged like old friends catching up. This was literally me about two weeks ago, where I realized I was choosing to compare to go down that road. When I realized this, I definitely looked at myself (not literally) like a crazy person, shook myself back to reality and got intentional. I sat down and wrote down all the things I loved about me. It didn’t matter how silly or random it was, I wrote it down. It didn’t matter if this was something someone else had or could do. This moment was about me and what I loved about me. I chose to see me instead of the opposite. Ways to beat comparison: see you. Call you out. Emphasize all the amazing things about you. Be intentional with you. Identify your triggers and pull away from the things that set them off. For me, sometimes I take social media breaks to clear my head and regain focus.
With ungratefulness, I can always tell when he’s near because complaining is ever present. Even if I’m not speaking it, I can feel it in my heart and it swirls in my thoughts. To beat this enemy, I push myself to be grateful. It is often me going against what I feel. I list things I’m grateful for, no matter how big or small. I won’t lie, there isn’t always immediate relief. Ungratefulness fights back with vengeance but I still choose gratefulness. I write it down. I speak it out loud. I do it regardless of how I feel and when I do, Ungratefulness has no choice but to back down.
Lastly, FOMO. For me, these enemies work together so when I combat comparison and ungratefulness I weaken FOMO. With FOMO, I often let myself feel the feels. I don’t stuff it down or ignore it. I feel it and find the lies that are fueling it. When I find those lies, I do my best to remember what’s true. I talk back. I say, “I feel you but you aren’t final”. I acknowledge that FOMO may come again but I won’t be rocked by it. I won’t stop my life for FOMO. I also list what I fear I’m missing out on and let Truth speak into it.
Overcoming the enemies in the valley is a daily process. It requires you to push pass your emotions; to persistence. It takes choosing you, choosing your valley.
I don’t know who or what the enemies are to your valley. We all experience and process life differently. We all face different struggles. Maybe you wrestle with comparison, FOMO, and ungratefulness. Maybe it’s something else that fights against your will and vision to show up where you are. Whatever it maybe, I want to encourage you that you will overcome. You can have joy and hope in the valley. You can be fully you and show up where you are. You aren’t missing anything because your process looks and feels different. You have not lost progress. You have not missed a step. There is beauty here. There is gold in the simplicity of living life. There is joy in the valley.
What are some enemies to your valley? Can you identify them? How do you combat them?