Posts tagged ‘dysfunction’

March 20, 2019

Preparation for Healing: What is Readiness?

I want to circle back to our exploration of the healing process with a simple question: How do you know if you’re ready to heal? Even if you recognize that readiness is crucial for healing to begin, how do you know if you’ve reached that point?

We all like to think we’re ready. Some of us are but think we can’t be because we haven’t done any deliberate prep work. Some of us have spent years preparing and still aren’t ready. I know that defies logic. The path to healing is not logical.

Clear, sound reasoning-a logical path-comes from the mind. Healing involves the whole being working in concert. Often, it is the disconnection of body, mind, and spirit that generates the need for healing in the first place.

What is readiness if not being prepared?
ready
Readiness is a state of willingness.

Duh, huh? I hate it when people say things like that. I never know what they really mean. To more clearly see how willingness relates to readiness to heal, try asking yourself the following questions:

Am I willing to stop avoiding?
Healing will sometimes mean feeling all of those emotions we work too much, sleep too much, drink too much, eat too much, watch TV too much, and medicate in order to avoid. Sometimes we are not willing to give those things up. If not, we are not ready to heal.

Am I willing to clearly state my intentions?
We have already explored the process of setting intentions. A willingness to set intentions is an indicator of readiness.

Am I willing to let go of expectations?
Staying married to the expectation of a certain outcome will hamper healing. Being willing to let expectations go shows a level of readiness.

Am I willing to trust my body?
You may not trust your body right now. That is okay. The real question is, are you willing to learn to trust it by exploring methods like somatic experiencing and mindfulness practices?

Am I willing to allow feelings to flow?
You may not be able to do this yet. If you have lived in danger, you may have had to suppress, disassociate, or hide your feelings in order to survive. It can take a long time to be able to feel and let the feelings flow. A willingness to try is all you need to get started.

Am I willing to stick with the process?
A healing journey can take you into territory that you may not immediately understand on a cognitive level. If you stick with the process, this will work itself out eventually. If you are not willing to stick with the process you can quickly get stuck in a cognitive loop. The mind cannot make this journey alone. Sometimes the body must lead.

Am I willing to stop muscling through?
It is possible to white knuckle your way through many things for a period of time, but that is not a sustainable method for change. Pushing yourself to confront your fears, for example, will have a different long term result than allowing fear to bubble up, acknowledging it, and sitting with it until it dissipates.

Am I willing to feel momentarily unsafe in order to ultimately feel more whole?
No one wants to feel unsafe, but we can all tolerate it in small doses as long as we are willing.

Am I willing to treat myself with respect and kindness?
Deep emotional and spiritual work can be as physically draining as lifting weights or running. Giving your body nutritional support, regular gentle exercise, plenty of sleep, and planned moments of beauty and pleasure are especially important for supporting the journey. A willingness to examine and revise self-talk when needed can boost your mood and energy level.

Am I willing to see what is?
This is a big thing. It sounds so easy. I’m in touch with reality. I’m sure you are too. Obviously, we see what is, right? Unfortunately, we may not. We all have blind spots and a great capacity for denial. If you come from a destructive, dysregulated, or dysfunctional family, seeing things as they actually are can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.

It is painful to see your mother’s repeated and prolonged cruelty toward you for what it is – cruel, unloving behavior. You just want her to love you. You will bend yourself into any shape, do anything, make any excuse that allows you to believe that she does…or will someday.

It feels impossible to reconcile your husband’s verbal abuse with the fact that he says he loves you. It’s easier to morph what you’re hearing into a scolding you must need and deserve.

The sadness of neglect might simply consume you if you didn’t develop the ability to weave imaginary connections.

We learn early how to cushion ourselves from the harshest of realities. A willingness to release ourselves from the skills we developed for protection is part of the healing process. Because we internalize both the wounds from other’s destructive behavior and the skills we use to survive, releasing ourselves from these can feel like we’re losing ourselves and our story. We may experience grief, loss, uncertainty, and unbridled terror.

While we may know we are also releasing the things that prevent us from fully becoming our best selves, there will be moments in which it is difficult to hold that thought in our minds. When the lower brain is triggered to fight, flee, freeze, or fawn, we cannot force our way out of that state (over time we can change our relationship with the trigger points and hopefully reintegrate traumatic memories). If it were as simple as thinking our way out of this spot, no one would suffer from PTSD or complex PTSD.

Seeing what is may also mean seeing ourselves differently. Recognizing our blind spots and our contributions to dysfunction when we’re already feeling vulnerable is asking a lot.

Again, seeing what is is a BIG thing. It is not easy. You may feel more willing to explore this when you remember that on some level you already know anything you are becoming willing to see. This idea could be restated as a willingness to know what you know. You know how your mother’s cruelty feels. You know how your husband’s abuse affects your self-confidence. You know the ache of feeling invisible.

You may only recognize these things on a subconscious level. They must move to your conscious awareness for you to see them. Conscious awareness brings the feelings to the surface where you can make a decision regarding your response. This is how you will shift from the feeling position of a wounded victim to the feeling position of a powerful self-advocate. This is how you gain or regain yourself!

Am I willing to face any relationship consequences that may occur?
Once you see what is, you will have the opportunity to reevaluate your relationships. Some will be toxic and need to end. Some will need to be minimized. Some will morph into deeper, more supportive levels of love and concern. Being willing to let relationships evolve will allow you to find support for healing.

Am I willing to let go of the payoff I get from dysfunction?
Once we see what is, we may discover that we rely on unhealthy behavior to gain attention, feel supported and loved, solicit assistance, advance at work, or control our family environment. When we give up the unhealthy behavior, we will also give up the payoff.

Willingness does not require mastery of any skill. It does not require a certain level of understanding. It is not a declaration that you’ll do any particular thing. It is not an obligation or a timeline. Willingness is simply a state of being open to exploring whatever may come as you allow yourself to shift and heal. If you are willing, you are ready.

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/preparation-for-healing-managing-expectations-begins-with-setting-clear-intentions/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/preparation-healing-manage-expectations/

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February 12, 2019

Preparation for Healing: Manage Your Expectations

Once you’ve set clear intentions, it becomes easier to manage your expectations. You know what you aspire to accomplish. You know how you want to behave during the process of reaching that aspiration. You know how long you’ve committed to the intentions. You know how you’ll measure success. With the process in place, all you need to do is follow your intentions. You can let go of anything you expect to happen along the way or when you reach your aspiration.

It is not necessary to have expectations in order to accomplish what you hope to accomplish. I mention expectations because they can be a real stumbling block. It bears repeating that it is not necessary to have expectations, even high ones, in order to improve your life.

What is an expectation?

An expectation is something you believe is likely to happen or you anticipate will happen. An expectation can also be something you believe should happen because of your efforts, position, relationships, or view of the world.

Why do expectations matter?

If you are going to begin healing, it is important to know the process may take an extended period of time. That doesn’t mean you won’t see incremental improvement quickly, it just means that once you reach the length of time to which you’ve committed, you may find that you need to commit more time in order to make lasting change.

If you were raised in dysfunction, your expectations of normal and acceptable may not be aligned with healthy or productive.

If you have an internal expectation of failure, your behavior and effort will reflect that. If you have an awareness of this possibility, you can counteract your tendency to invite failure.

If you expect things to be one certain way and they are not, you may tend to focus on what’s wrong (wrong as in it doesn’t look like what you expected) and miss out on any abundance and joy that are present.

If you expect negative feedback, the manner in which you solicit input will reflect that and can mean you get exactly what you expect.

If you have lived a privileged life, you may expect other people to adapt to you. This can prevent you from seeing the effect you have on others.

If you have lived with neglect, you may expect and allow mistreatment that keeps you from being kind to yourself.

If you expect others to harm you, you will not be able to receive help, encouragement, or have a sense of support from the community.

If you expect to be treated as less than, your behavior will reflect that and it will be difficult to treat you as an equal.

If you feel inadequate to a task, you may perceive unspoken expectations as pressure or stress.
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None of those apply to me, so why would I need to manage expectations?

We live in a culture in which we’re bombarded by messages that promise an absolute and specific outcome if we will buy into a certain product or approach. We believe if we participate, we should get the promised result. Advertisers sweeten the pot by telling us it will happen FAST! We come to expect not just the promised outcome, but the promised outcome right now! Who doesn’t want the desired result immediately?!

Weight loss and fitness programs are famous for making such promises. Pharmaceutical ads promise quick relief from depression through medication. Some psychiatrists prescribe medication for PTSD in lieu of yoga, somatic experiencing, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, consecutive counting and talk therapy. Some physicians prescribe meds in place of attempting dietary changes to treat diabetes, reflux, or IBS. Physicians are now having to rethink the tendency to overprescribe opioid pain medication without trying other options first.

It’s seductive to believe that anything we want to achieve can be had immediately, without effort. In rare cases that may happen. It is not common. On some level, we know this whether or not our behavior reflects this knowledge.

Unfortunately, when we believe hype, try a quick fix and then fail to sustain any lasting resulting change, we may create an internal expectation that our efforts are futile, nothing will work, and change is not possible. This limiting expectation can prevent us from trying again.

And it’s not uncommon to stop trying. You probably know someone who has prevented herself from doing something because of an expectation that she won’t be successful or trying is futile – asking for a raise, asking for a date, getting a higher degree, applying for a dream job, doing yoga, starting a band, starting a business, cooking, setting boundaries for family visits, auditioning for a lead role, painting, skiing, or learning to fly? Limiting expectations come in many forms and are a powerful impediment to healing and improving your life.

If you’re a planner like me, you’d probably like a guarantee that things will turn out a certain way. After all, you put in a lot of effort to explore options and create the best plan. The reality is that life brings no guarantees. You can minimize risk, but you can never anticipate every possibility that will come along to change the end result. If you become too attached to your expectation of that end result, it can create tunnel vision.

Tunnel vision takes you out of the present and blinds you to the opportunities that are happening around you at any given moment. These opportunities are often where growth occurs. The present gives us moments where we can build resilience, self-trust, and fearlessness. If we miss those, we make the overall journey take longer.

The other problem with being too attached to a specific outcome is that as you grow what was once acceptable to you may become unacceptable. That means your desired outcome may not reflect your growth and may inadvertently hold you back.

I know it’s hard to let go of the idea that specific outcomes are not all that important. It’s often hammered into us by our parents, teachers, bosses, and pastors that meeting a certain list of expectations is critical. Sometimes that many people can be misinformed. Sometimes using fear to manage diverse groups is ingrained in cultural institutions.

Unfortunately, many cultural forces converge to make it more comfortable, and in many ways easier, to exist in an unhealthy state so long as we meet superficial expectations than it is to heal and thrive. It’s counterintuitive to our rhetoric. It’s counterproductive to our desire to live healthy, rewarding lives. And yet, it’s a reality for many of us.

Again, I’ve thrown a lot at you. Hopefully, you read something here that prompts a helpful insight. Increased awareness is a beginning point for improvement. And you can just ditch the expectations. They’re not necessary for you to heal!

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-prime/201011/parenting-expectations-success-benefit-or-burden

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cui-bono/201802/the-psychology-expectations

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201408/new-treatments-may-deliver-immediate-relief-depression

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/let-surprised/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/made-love-served-kindness/

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