The Mountain Behind the Mountain by Wendy Betterini
I’m reading through a new book I bought recently, “Creating a Charmed Life” by Victoria Moran. It features a collection of 75 short essays about how to bring more joy, meaning, and simplicity into your life.
One of my favorite essays from the book (so far) is called, “Give Up Your Mountain.” By “mountain” she means the foreboding issue that stands between you and the life you want to be living. Everyone’s mountains are different. For one person, it might be haunting memories of an abusive childhood, for another it could be an addiction, for someone else it could be financial struggle. She mentions the necessity of surrendering to situations you can’t change, and continuing on to create a meaningful life in spite of them. Wonderful advice, and this essay holds a lot of truth.
But something else occurred to me as I was reading, and that is, the mountain behind the mountain. Sometimes what we think is our biggest mountain is simply an anthill at the base of the true mountain lurking behind the clouds.
Some people think that financial lack is their mountain. Then, by some miracle, they win the lottery or inherit a large sum of money. But their problems don’t vanish, do they? If anything, they experience more stress, family problems intensify, and everything seems to get worse. If their mountain was caused by lack, the money should have dissolved it. Yet, a surprisingly large percentage of people who win the lottery are broke again with a few years. Another good example is people who are overweight and believe that everything in their lives would be better if they could just lose the weight. Once they do lose it, what happens? They feel vulnerable and insecure, turn to food for comfort and regain the weight. In situations like these, we can see clearly that there was something else behind the immediate struggles, something that wasn’t addressed in order to resolve the issues completely.
There are exceptions to these examples, of course, but my point is that our mountains usually exist for a reason. Most often, they are based on a fear, thought, or belief about ourselves or our lives. Once we break down the initial mountain, we see the bigger mountain looming large in the background, and we realize that our work has just begun.
So, how do we conquer the bigger mountain? How can we even tell why it’s there? In my own experience, it requires a lot of self-discovery. We must be willing to explore ourselves fully, question our beliefs, dig into our past, work through any unresolved issues, and make better choices.
Even more challenging, we must overcome the fear of facing the hidden parts of ourselves. Our fear could accurately be called the mountain behind the mountain behind the mountain! But the beauty of this process is that once we face our fear, it doesn’t seem so big anymore. We can chip away at our mountains a piece at a time, keep the momentum going, and our lives will begin to transform.
It’s important to point out also that there’s no end to this process. We are never really done with learning and growing into ourselves more deeply. Our lives will always have room for improvement. We may also have periods of time where we feel uncomfortable with the work we’re doing, and start backsliding with our efforts. New mountains could spring up in our path, seemingly overnight.
But if we continue our efforts, day by day, week by week, and even year by year, we will make progress. We will learn how to love our mountains because of the way they strengthen us, and what they teach us. And we will realize that even though it wasn’t an easy journey, it was definitely worthwhile in the end.