Any type of mess makes me anxious. If my house is messy-even if I do not have the energy to do anything about it-it gives me physical anxiety. I start becoming irritable and cranky, I am unable to rest, and I feel like jumping out of my skin. The truth is, when you live with a two year old, there is going to be mess. The house is not always going to be clean or stay clean for every long. And there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes I just need to sit down, enjoy watching her learn and play, and embrace the mess. Our mental healing process is the same concept. Healing is not a straight, clean path. No, it is a twisty road with lots and lots of mess. Too many times we do not lean in and embrace the healing process for what it’s worth. We sometimes tend to fight it a little. The healing process can be messy but let’s embrace it.
Why is the Healing Process Messy?
I went into therapy and my healing process thinking it was a straight, clean path. I think I knew I was going to have ups and downs and sometimes it would be hard. So when my journey took a weird turn and got a little messy, I think I panicked a little. I had a hard time embracing all that was involved in the healing process. Maybe it was because I had my preconceived notions of what the healing process would look like, or maybe it was because the healing process was so foreign to me that I just had a hard time letting go of the idea of control and letting it happen.
The healing process is messy because what we have been through is messy and hard. My therapist shared with me an interesting theory one day as we were talking about the healing process and my symptoms. She said when you, let’s say break your arm, you go through these intense symptoms when you break it. You obviously feel pain, maybe have weird nerve pain or symptoms, swelling, and so on. The theory for the healing process, is as you start healing you go backwards on the timeline of your symptoms. We had a long conversation on how this could potentially be the same for the mental healing process as well. If we think about healing this way, it makes sense why the healing process may be messy. You are working through and experiencing hard emotions and reprocessing hard events.
What Does it Mean to Embrace the Process?
If we look at the actual definition of “embrace”, there are a few different ones, right? One talks about a physical embrace, something like a hug. Another definition is to accept or support something. Now, when we talk about the idea of embracing the healing process, one may think more of the second definition, right. To accept and support this idea and concept of healing willingly and with enthusiasm. While I think there is a lot of truth to that, I want to actually shift our focus to the first definition.
What if embracing the healing process really looked more like a metaphorical hug? A hug’s purpose could be a way to greet people, comfort, support, show excitement…what if that is what embracing the healing process looked like? Speaking from experience, I have been more of the person to push back and sometimes challenge the healing process. Or in other words…push back and sometimes challenge me. It was like I was in a confrontation with myself. I was being unkind to myself and I was hindering the healing process. Once I started embracing the healing process as described by the first definition, that is when I started seeing tremendous growth.
Is it Hard to Embrace the Process?
I am not going to sugar coat anything. Nothing about healing is comfortable or easy. It gets easier, for sure, but it can be really hard. Changing ones way of thinking can be just as challenging. If one is used to fighting the process as I was, the shift of perspective could be a challenge, but it is not impossible. And the mind shift is not a one and done deal. I still find myself wanting to push back but that is when I have to do some inner self work to figure out why am I wanting to push back.
If Embracing the Process is Hard, Why Should I Even Try?
I have been in this spot, which is why I felt it necessary to bring to light. I thought to myself, I am already going through a hard enough time, why in the world would I try and add something that is harder. Well, the answer is actually really simple. It may be a hard mind shift to change, but it actually makes the healing process a hell of a lot easier.
If you are going through a hard time with something, what is easier? Does it make it easier when someone comes up to you and is confrontational and upset with you, or is it easier when someone comes up to you and hugs you and tells you things are going to be okay? The latter, right? So when you are dealing with something hard in your healing journey, tell yourself “Hey, I know this is hard. I know you are scared and dealing with a lot. Just remember that I got you and we are going to make it through this”, makes a huge difference in your life. To reassure yourself that you got this and that it is going to be okay makes the load a little easier to carry. The healing process can be messy but let’s embrace it.
Ways to Practice Embracing the Healing Process
Okay, so we have talked about the importance of embracing the process as well as what that really means, but what are some practical ways to actually do this? I am glad you asked.
- Positive self-talk: This is something I actually struggle with the most. This is why it is the first one on my list. I do not mean positive self-talk when things are hard and you need a little encouragement. No, I mean positive self-talk all the time. Being kind to yourself all the time will help when you need to comfort yourself in the hard times. For example; You would not expect a young child to believe it when an adult tells them things are going to be okay when they are constantly telling them how dumb, ugly, and unloved they are. Why would you expect the same for yourself?
- Practice embracing the good parts too: When you are feeling stable, embrace that. When you are feeling excited about something, embrace that. When you are happy, feeling loved, feeling like you are doing things right, embrace it! It is easier to embrace the healing process when things get messy if you have embraced the good times too.
- Practice self-awareness: This one is important. I have a tendency to minimize the traumatic events I have been through and the emotions that I have felt and continue to feel. So at the beginning of my healing journey, I had a hard time understanding why all of a sudden I would have a huge breakdown and all of a sudden things felt unbearable. Well, it was because I was missing the signs my body was telling me that I needed to feel these things and process through them. I did not recognize the signs my own body was giving me to slow down and help it out. Practicing self-awareness helped me recognize these signs and be able to intervene quickly. And by intervene, I mean that I was able to embrace the parts that needed it and lean into the discomfort.
It is Okay To Struggle
It is okay not to be okay, to go through the struggles that you are going through, or if you see a therapist, or if you take medications. Times get hard, and it is important to heal. It is time to heal. And it is time to embrace the healing process. The healing process can be messy, but let’s embrace it.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, it’s employees, sponsors, or affiliates.