I’m A Psychotherapist Currently Learning My Own Lesson In Perseverance, and Using It To Be A Better Healer

Sem-trailer TIny House - Elana DunnLesson In Perseverance

This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, second to childbirth. Honestly, if I had known then what I know now, I would have NEVER started. But, of well, I planned, researched, studied for months, yet was still not fully prepared for just how much work it would be. I mean in the very awesomely helpful Youtube video lessons, no one says — “Girl, this is gonna take years, not months.” But I later saw people in the Tiny House People Facebook group talking about how long it ACTUALLY takes to build even a small tiny house by yourself (Mine is about 3 times larger than a small tiny house; a whopping 360 square feet). Lesson learned. Too bad, so sad. Too late, just skate. Learn from it and move–on.


Remember Why You Started In The First Place

In my goal of minimizing my life, this tiny house goal was very much a part of getting to a place where “stuff” didn’t take up too much of my time and energy. Living tiny, in my mind, would provide me with simplicity and more freedom. And even today, that is still the way I feel about minimalism.                                                     (photo credit: me and my iPhone after wiping all the sawdust off of it)

Every time I step inside my tiny house (well…the tiny house in progress), I think of why I have to keep going. This challenge is like so many that my clients, past and present, face. How do you get through the super-duper-overwhelmingly hard things, when you DO have the option to just give up? You make a choice. My choice is to keep going. Because, as my best friend said to me one time when I was whining about how long it was taking, “every screw you drill in, and every nail you hammer is a step closer to being finished.” (She likely has no idea how often I hear her voice saying that as I work, or on days when I don’t feel like working on the tiny house at all.)



Choices. Choices.

Sure, you have the option to quit, the choice; but can you deal with the consequences of quitting? Quitting can be harder than keeping going. I mean think about it.

Who’s counting on you?

Is your child watching (mine now 10-year-old definitely IZ)?

What steps will you have to go through to undo all the progress you’ve made?

When you visualize being ‘finished’ do you feel a sense of regret for possibly quitting?

What about the very reason you decided to start in the first place — is that what you STILL want for yourself?

Is the pain you feel right now worse than the pain you will feel if you quit?

For me, every answer to these questions pushes me to keep going, even I days when I feel like I can’t push through on my own — It’s more of a spiritual energy versus physical energy some days that doing all the sawing, drilling, and painting. I’m not talking about religion. I said “spiritual,” which I define as a belief in something greater than yourself. You simply decide that you have no other option than to keep going. I believe in Choice Theory, so for me, and my tiny house build, as I analyze my choices, choosing to quit would be WAY more painful than keeping going. 



Reminding Yourself How Far You’ve Come

I sometimes take photos, to help me remember how far I’ve come. Like this first one, the day I hauled away the old steel semi-trailer to its DIY building location. 

Sem-Trailer TIny House Beginning










and this one just below is not even the same place I see in the photo just above. Putting this first wall up had me grinning from ear-to-ear!

Semi-trailer Tiny House First Wall Up
















Then there’s this one. This purchase of an entire kitchen full of old crusty broken cabinets I bought for $50 from a home flip/ rehab guy on LetGo. And turned them into exactly what I envisioned! 

semi-trailer tiny house kitchen cabinets

The people who constantly ask “how much longer is it going to take you?”, or the one who kept telling me to just let it go and haul it to the scrap yard, or those who think it’s the craziest thing (because it’s not what they would do). I volley those messages. I don’t absorb them into my psyche. But, I do absorb the voice of my friend who keeps telling me how amazing I am for this, or the young lady who came by to see my tiny house and immediately said, “you’re gonna be one boss-ass-bitch once you’re living in this!!! No one is gonna be able to tell you nothing. It’s like ‘look at this right here, I can do ANYTHING!!'” I felt my chest poke out and my feet float slightly off the ground as she said it. 


Messages That Push You To Persevere

There are people around you whose opinion is valuable to you, and those whose opinion is of little-to-no value. Know the difference. If the person has a history of shooting down yours and others’ ideas, are they really the people who provide words of value? Is the person someone who doesn’t really know you at all, do they have words worth absorbing into your psyche? If it’s a person is always says what they think you want to hear (you know exactly what I’m talking about), is their feedback or opinion of value in fulfilling your purpose?


A Lesson In Learning and Growing

What I’m learning right now, is a lesson that I am able to pass on to my clients. As I attentively look into the faces of those who depend on me to help them feel and function better, I am able to consider the lessons I’ve learned about:

How to make the choice to quit or keep going.

Remembering why you started in the first place. Does that reason still apply right now?

Are the messages you’re receiving from people hurting you or helping you?

How to evaluate the value of the messages you receive

Sometimes the cost of giving up is greater than the cost of keeping going. 

Take things one day at a time. Just focus on today, not tomorrow. Because every nail you hammer is getting you to the finish line. Once you know your goal, focus on the process, not the goal. 

Just imagine how you’ll feel when you get there. 


Lessons Shared During Online Counseling Sessions

During online counseling sessions, I am now able to pass on these lessons as I hear clients’ struggles to quit or keep going. Whether it’s a relationship that is plaguing them mentally

Lesson of a new day - online counselingand physically, being in an abusive workplace day-after-day, living a life of stress and overwhelm because of saying “yes” so much, or having a passion for something but not pursuing it.  The lesson of who’s counting on you, who’s watching that matters to you, the lesson of focusing on the steps of the process instead of a goal that seems insurmountable. 

Therapists don’t know everything. We are always learning and growing just like you. We’re human, and as humans, as long as we are living, we are learning and growing. It’s impossible not to because life is always presenting us with new experiences. A new experience brings with it a new lesson learned. 




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