truth about the healing process

Have you ever heard someone talk about their healing journey and how amazing they feel?  You may be wondering to yourself; “how can I get there now? Or “I want to feel that way too”. Healing is a buzzword in the world of psychotherapy. It is often seen as this surrendering, peaceful place that you get to where you no longer have to be burdened with the pain of your past. Many people tell stories of their past and how they have healed, but few talk about the process of how they got to where they are.

Healing is often presented as this kind of spiritual awakening that unlocks parts of yourself you didn’t know you had creating a sense of empowerment. Many of us have old wounds, childhood traumas, and relationship scars and we fantasize about being this “healed” person. The truth about the healing process is that it can be complex, messy, and very painful. Healing is not easy. The truth of the healing process must and should be acknowledged before beginning your own journey. Here is the truth about the healing process:

It is Not Linear  

It’s not always going to feel like progress. You may have days where you don’t want to do what’s best for you, or slip up and engage in an unhealthy way of coping. In therapy, we often say progress is not linear and that’s the truth. You won’t feel yourself noticeably getting better each day. Rather you may have minutes, hours, days, and weeks where you feel okay, followed by a period of time where you may feel stuck in those painful feelings again. Healing can be up and down. Just because you are taking all the right steps doesn’t mean it gets easier every day. Hard days are to be expected. 

Healing Can Bring Up More Pain 

Pain is a part of healing. We have to feel to heal as they say. Getting in touch with your emotions is essential for recovery and allowing yourself to feel and make sense of emotions can often bring up more pain. It can be difficult to sit with our pain and truly feel an emotion. Healing is not all warm and fuzzy rather it can be dark with many twists and turns. This is a reminder that if it feels worse, that’s likely a sign you are healing as you are getting more in touch with a part of yourself you have been denying. 

Healing Is an Active Choice 

 We have to commit to healing every day. Sometimes we may need to remind ourselves throughout our day why we are committing to healing in the first place. Nobody made the choice to be struggling or experience pain in the first place, but it is up to us to heal our own pain. This requires us to make the choice to heal. Then continue to follow through day after day, even when we are not feeling okay and it feels too hard. 

Grief and Loss are A part Of Healing  

We all go through experiences in life that forever change us. That is a newfound understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Where we no longer are able to be the person we once were prior to this experience. Part of healing is grieving the person we used to be. Meet this with forgiveness of our past self, compassion for who we are today, and acceptance of the changes in our lives. Healing is grieving. It can be grieving the past, present, and future of what we thought about ourselves and the world around us. Healing can also be grieving the loss of people you once considered to be close friends. 

Small Acts Of Change  

Healing is not done in a single momentous stroke of change. It isn’t deciding you want to heal and putting in some major life changes that lead to this healed self. Healing is more like taking very small steps. It may be drinking a glass of water, sitting with and acknowledging an emotion for just 5 minutes. Even simply going for a walk. Healing happens in small incremental behavioral changes that build up to bigger changes over time. Think of small ways you can commit to your own healing journey to get to the place you want to be.  

Pain Doesn’t Go Away forever  

People can often hold the perception that if they are healed and have accepted something painful in their lives, they no longer will be triggered. They believe they will be free from having to feel this pain again. The reality is much more nuanced and complex than that. You may have years where you are no longer trapped by the pain of your past only to be listening to a song and feel a rush of those same emotions coming back. Pain doesn’t just go away forever, rather we grow around our pain through our own life experiences. Through this we can learn to relate to our pain in a whole new way but the pain will still remain.

Expect and recognize it is normal to still have the pain with you and that you may still have times when that pain is brought up and you feel it again. Healing is about leaning into our emotions rather than pushing them away. 

Article written by Julie Raymond, LCPC

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