When the mind says our victories are too small to count, cross-question it – What other way is there to big victories

When striving for self-mastery, we sometimes succeed in taking small steps forward. For example, suppose we find it difficult to wake up early in the morning, but are able to do so for one day. After such successes, our mind may discourage us: “Anyway, you won’t be able to do this tomorrow or some day after that. This is such a tiny victory. How will it count?”

To avoid such discouragement, we need to counter-question our mind: “Even if this is a small victory, what other way is there to big victories? Whenever anyone does anything big, it is by beginning with, and continuing with, small steps.”  

Anything, however significant, can be reduced to insignificance if placed in an inappropriate context. Consider a toddler who learns to take his first steps. If that one step is placed within the context of adults who take thousands of steps daily, the toddler’s one step may seem insignificant. But for the child, that step is significant – so significant that parents celebrate and commemorate the moment by clicking photos and videos. 

Similarly, we all are toddlers in the journey toward self-mastery. Additionally and significantly, we also need to double as the adults who encourage the toddlers. When looking at ourselves, we need a healthy balance between the two extremes of complacency and minimization. On one hand, we shouldn’t become so proud of our small steps as to become complacent and not take any more steps. On the other hand, we shouldn’t let those small steps be reduced to insignificance either. The Bhagavad-gita (06.25) urges us to take the gradual, step-by-step approach in redirecting our mind toward self-mastery. By incremental improvement, we will eventually improve significantly, substantially, dramatically. 

 

Think it over:

  • In our journey toward self-mastery, how may our mind discourage us?
  • How does context determine the significance of things? 
  • What is the healthy way to look at ourselves when taking our small steps toward self-mastery?

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1 Comment

  1. Wonderful analogy, to overcome self-defeating talks, Prabhuji. particularly, I liked the line “we shouldn’t become so proud of our small steps as to become complacent and not take any more steps, but we shouldn’t let those small steps be reduced to insignificance either.”

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