This week’s topic, though once again not written “on schedule”, is somewhat of a philosophical rant more than a recounting of experiences like my last posts. It is something that I’ve discovered to be not only a “Brain Injury” concept, but an overall principle for wellness in all realms of being (emotionally, physically, psychologically) – “healing through feeling” and the process that entails. No matter where we are at in our life’s journey, the ebb and flow of life dictates a state of constant flux. Given this fact, I have come to appreciate that the best thing we can do to help ourselves along the way is to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and to have a constant attitude of willingness – an openness to the possibilities.
I’ve heard it said that the moment we think we have “arrived” is the moment we cease to strive. We will never “have it all figured out” but life has led me to believe that there is a distinct possibility for true healing if we are willing to let ourselves work through our experiences and process their influence on our lives. In doing so, we become more aware, more enlightened, and more “accepting” of what is. From that place, out of that personal resolve, comes a desire – an innate drive – to work toward the betterment of ourselves and consequently, the betterment of the world around us. It’s almost paradoxical…passive activity.
I like what Paul has to say about it in the Bible…
Not Yet Arriving, But Still Striving
12 Not that I have already attained this—that is, I have not already been perfected—but I strive to lay hold of that for which I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: forgetting the things behind and reaching out for the things ahead, 14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view. If you think otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways. 16 Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard that we have already attained.
So what has this “forward thinking/forward moving”-mindset meant for me in my world?
Through my struggles, and in supporting family and friends through theirs, I have learned that – as uncomfortable as it may seem at the time – feeling all your feelings, negative AND positive, is the best way to gain closure, or attain “healing”. On an emotional/psychological level, cognitive behavioural psychology has been my best friend through this learning process. The skills I gained through this training have been invaluable; but it took me at least two years to gain the confidence in their application. “Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and cognitions through a goal-oriented, systematic process….The premise of cognitive behavioral therapy is that changing maladaptive thinking leads to change in affect and in behaviour” (Wikipedia). In essence, this approach identifies that your thoughts dictate your actions. If we can change the way we think, we can literally change the way we interpret our world and, hence, our attitude toward and response to it.
But we first have to acknowledge the feeling: whether it be fear, anxiety, overwhelm, disappointment, joy, contentment, or elation. From here the trick is to let that feeling be what it will be, observe and acknowledge your response to it and let that be. Don’t “judge” it – making yourself right or wrong because of it – just be aware of it. In doing so we detach the experience from our emotional interpretation of it and will slowly find it easier to “deal with” as we are no longer overcome by the sheer perception.
In the realm of physical recovery, I have found the same thing to be true. Though the injuries and consequential weaknesses in my body have made for a somewhat painful experience at times, I have found that working around the pain – numbing it, or simply relieving the symptom – never actually resolved the issue. The experience simply becomes more bearable in the moment (much like dismissing an emotion makes life seemingly “easier” to deal with), while the underlying cause is never resolved.
Having recently approached my physical recovery from more of a strength-based perspective (correcting underlying function) rather than a treatment-based one, I have actually experienced more gains which have been longer-lasting. However, this process required “working through the pain” in many ways. As I began to acknowledge and respond by correcting the source of the physical pain, rather than simply reacting to the outcome, I noticed that the frequency, duration, and intensity of these experiences lessened. Interesting! 🙂 My body has learned a new habit.
In summary, it all goes back to a philosophy I learned from the time I spent working in the “chiropractic” world: an ADIO – or above-down, inside-out – perspective. If we are willing to look inward and deal with the cause, we are more able to handle the outward expression or effect of that internal experience. In so doing, I truly believe that we can re-acquire – or perhaps acquire for the first time – a sense of wholeness through our brokenness.
…this is my life…