Healing takes time. Often, I find my clients talking about how much they wish that time could speed up and that they could change more quickly. Many times we talk about taking two steps forward and one step back. It is all part of the process of healing. As we heal, we have new experiences, which create new neural networks in the brain. As we make new neural networks, we are also creating new sensory experiences for our nervous system to get used to, which can be uncomfortable.
Upgrading our brains and bodies from the old to the new, and as we upgrade, some adjustment time is needed to process out the old and invite in the new. We cultivate new beliefs, new feelings, and sensations in our bodies. If we were to change all that overnight, it would be too overwhelming, and we wouldn’t know how to integrate the new version into the reality of the world that we live in.
Integration is about learning how to take our new/healed parts of ourselves and integrate them into our reality.
The goal of therapy is to discover what areas in our lives we are feeling suffering in and then learn where those feelings are coming from. More times than not, the stories that create suffering for us today are connected to the feelings held on to from our past experiences. Our past experiences shape the current landscape of our lives, sometimes without even knowing it. In therapy, not only do we learn to talk about that pain and suffering, but we learn where it shows up in all the parts of ourselves (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) and how to surrender to it. We can learn how to express it healthier instead of repressing, avoiding, or expressing too much.
Most of the clients that I see want some control in their lives. I do believe control is an illusion. We do not have control over anything that happens to us, but we either resist or surrender to our current circumstances. Many (not all) of the mental challenges we suffer from are due to our inability to control our emotions, thoughts, or behaviors. It is as if we believe that life happens to us. Surrendering to growth means we trust what is happening in every moment through awareness versus avoidance. Surrendering means being open to what is here.
With that awareness, we begin to trust each experience, that every situation is specifically for us and our growth. We can start to trust ourselves and believe we can handle situations, even the most difficult ones. Trusting ourselves evokes the power within. There may not be control in our lives, but there is room for empowerment in those situations that provoke feelings of loss of control. Through surrender comes transcendence.
Growth continues as we learn to integrate our new beliefs, insights, thoughts, feelings, and experiences through surrender into everyday life. Integrating these new insights about ourselves happens when we bring light to them nonjudgmentally and learn how to re-wire or re-pattern the responses ingrained in us. We can learn to operate from fear (due to our wounded experiences) into a place of love, accept and surrender to the flow of our emotions and practice forgiveness, love, compassion, grace, and humility. When we grow, we learn the truth about our current reality and implement the new information we receive into our everyday lives.
Implementing What We Have Learned
Implementing changes into our reality allows for changes to occur in real-time as we discern our choices between truth in the here and the now of our current reality versus what was true in the past due to our previous experiences. We can see our patterns in real time and make choices aligned with our new truth, which takes practice and patience. Again, we learn to surrender. The difficulty comes with not listening to our truth. When we choose differently (choosing from a place that aligns with us or our truth/intuition versus choosing from a place of fear) life begins to offer different results, leading to positive changes in our life.
Growth Brings Empowerment
Growth allows the light in you to shine brighter in the world so that you can feel and experience all of what is there for you. There is so much beauty around us, often covered by past experiences that caused pain. We need the pain to get to the other side. Growth is simply moving from pain to knowing, accepting, and loving. Growth accepts all that there is. It does not happen overnight, nor does it happen alone.
Building Your Community
Having a community of caring people around you is helpful so that you can process and share with others, which adds more experience to your life and more opportunities to grow in connection with yourself and with others. As you process, you connect with your internal self and gain more understanding and compassion for yourself. When you begin to open up, it increases vulnerability, and vulnerability allows others to see us without shame. Instead of hiding, others can witness what we have inside without judgment. Connection to others supports us in our growth. It is misleading to think that we can handle our challenges alone. When we connect, it not only helps us improve ourselves, but it also helps improve others. Connection is healing and growing. Connection means understanding that we are all in this together.
Written by: Jamie Kruse, LCSW