As humans, we depend on sequence to understand events and establish order. Our ancestors invented devices to keep track of time that would optimize their functioning, and of course, the necessity to do so is maintained by our modern world.
Time has been, and continues to be, a necessary component to our survival as species. There’s a longstanding debate over the physics of time and whether or not it’s linear. Despite the multitude of existing theories, the non-controversial fact is that we perceive time as a straight line, even if it’s not.
Like an arrow, time has a sense of direction. In an hour, I’ll take my dog for a walk, and after that, I’ll go food shopping. We schedule our lives around conceptual time, and continue to do so, because it makes sense. It establishes order.
Since linearity is comfortable and seemingly universal, it’s presupposed onto everything. For example, if I continue to practice guitar, that invested time will make be a better guitarist. If I break my wrist, in six months, it should be healed. This all seems pretty logical, right? And it is.
However, not everything operates in similar fashion, which leads us to my main point- it’s easy to believe healing is linear, but there’s nothing straight about it. The reason I’m discussing this, besides it being important, is because I also forgot to be realistic with my own progression while healing.
After experiencing hardship or a traumatic event, progress made is assumably, not only going to stick, but continuously improve. Fortunately, that’s correct, but unfortunately, it won’t occur as expected. Because healing is a complex process, it’s unpredictable. Improvements can be seen and felt sporadically.
Let’s imagine yesterday was a really bad day, but today, you’re entirely unbothered. You feel so good, it’s difficult to reason with the possibility of backtracking on that progress, so when you do, it’s disheartening. During such moments, it’s likely to question whether you made any progress at all.
For these reasons, it’s critical to acknowledge that healing is more like a rollercoaster than a long drive from point A to B. It’s filled with pitstops, unpaved roads, and breakdowns. Taking these events personally prolongs this already complicated process. If you expect this, and stay prepared, the quicker you’ll bounce back.
Listed below, are a few tips to keep in mind during your journey toward healing. Personally, these have proven to be highly effective during dark moments that inevitably will rise.
- Embrace honesty: When triggered or approaching a pitchfork in the road, you’re given opportunity to acknowledge a message. Of course, you may not know what the fuck it’s trying to tell you, which is why you’ll need to dig deeper. Almost everything has a cause and effect. Was the reaction followed by a thought or event? Perhaps, the reasons as simple as the body responding in the only way it knows how. (Typically this occurs after trauma. The bodies actively produces an excess of cortisol, thus disproportionately responds to stimuli) Be honest with how you’re feeling and locate how it’s presents inside the body. Acknowledgement is crucial.
- Don’t beat yourself up: Like I’ve stated, expecting continual progress and receiving what feels like the opposite, can influence negative self-talk. If you’ve had several good days, and one bad day, don’t beat yourself up. You’re always making progress, even when it feels like you’re not. Let go of the expectation that you must feel a certain way. There’s never a right way to feel, and if that’s the focus, doubt will eat you alive.
- It’s okay to ask for help: If you’re really struggling and find it’s too difficult to do this on your own, asking for help is always a viable option. This could mean confiding in a trusted friend or reaching out to a professional. Know your limits and be realistic about what you can and can’t do alone.
- Take a step back: If something doesn’t feel right, take a step back and listen. Be conscious of presenting patterns. For example, if putting yourself out there in the dating world causes more harm than good, it’s alright to take a break. Healing will test your limits, and this is a good thing because you’re learning what you’re okay with and what you’re not. Taking a step back shouldn’t feel like defeat, and in fact, it can be rather informative. That time can be utilized to map out small and realistic steps to achieve your goals. Eventually, you’ll be doing all the things that currently trigger you.
- Resist the urge to fix: Sometimes doing nothing is doing something. When problems present, we’re hardwired to respond. For this reason, most people don’t realize they suppress, escape, or distract from uncomfortable emotions. The goal was to solve the problem but it created more. Sit what your feelings, because ultimately, that’s the best solution.
-Jessica Bruno LMHC