Healing is not linear. One month you might be doing absolutely fantastic, and the next month something in your life happens (like an argument with your spouse, stress at work, your pet gets sick, etc.) and your health starts to spiral out of control. First you stay up late watching TV and eating dried fruit, then you skip the gym, the next week you agree to go out for drinks with the people who aren’t really fun, but their gossipy company takes your mind off your own problems. A month later you step on a scale to discover that you’ve gained 7 pounds, your headache is back, you haven’t been regular with your bowel movements, your wallet seems to be empty and you told Janet from accounting that you think Jessica from operations smells like an onion AND now they both hate you.
Why is it so easy to just kinda stop caring for a moment about your health? Why does it seem like healing is work and sometimes you need vacation from it?
Healing can seem hard, especially in the middle stages. First you are all excited about healing, trying new modalities and finally feeling better, but then you plateau, you need to stick to the routine and actually do it every day. And it gets boring sometimes, and you miss your comfort foods, and people seem to leave you, and you doubt your own healing journey, and you give up for the first time, and then it is so hard to start again!
I have encountered many roadblocks, relapses and echoes from the past during my own healing. They seem to group together and fight against me with joint forces. Over the course of my healing I became intimate with what I call “The 7 Deadly Traps of Healing”. They are:
1. Body Image
2. It takes time!
3. Never-ending story.
4. It costs a lot!
5. Relapses feel like failures.
6. Worthiness and deserving.
Each “trap” has its core signature emotion and need that needs fulfilling. The reason why we keep falling into these traps is because we fail to generate our own emotional resources at the time of that need, we subconsciously fill a need with a negative behavior because of past trauma, or we fail at establishing/keeping a personal boundary.
Yes, it takes extra effort, time and energy to discover what those needs are, to work on boundaries, and generate your own positive emotions within you. And yes, it does sound daunting to do all this, especially when you are in the middle or a relapse, feel hurt and failed by the system (and/or yourself). But believe me (I personally guarantee it), the moment you zoom out to observe those “traps” and open your heart to their lessons, you gain such powerful knowledge of yourself that allows you to accept those traps and transmute them into something good. It takes practice; you will need to do this more that one time, however, each time you do this you bounce back quicker and gentler.
Let’s take a closer look at each of those 7 traps:
BODY IMAGE – How we view ourselves has a direct effect on our healing journey. If we see our bodies as hideous reminders of all that is wrong with us, it is never going to help us move forward. I understand that often our illness might look ugly, unattractive, and unacceptable by social standards. Secondary symptoms might include acne and acne scars, rashes, skin irritations, growths, weight gain, different odors and smells, hair loss, bleeding gums, blotches, patches and spots.
How would your perception and understanding of these symptoms change if I told you that these symptoms are your body’s way to keep you safe? Our bodies do not differentiate between a perceived threat and a real one. What you think and feel is real to your body.
Let’s for a moment entertain an idea that your acne is actually your body’s way to release the excess autonomic energy when you feel like “your blood is boiling under your skin” when your father keeps telling you what to do and makes you feel trapped and controlled.
Let’s assume for a moment that your body accumulates extra fat (by you feeling hungry, overeating or eating out of stress) because it doesn’t know that the sexual abuse you experienced in childhood is now over. Your body never completed that trauma, never rebalanced the instincts you felt back then – like the freeze instinct or the hide instinct - and you are still stuck in that moment (remember, your instincts override logic). Now, whenever an emotion that was felt back then is felt again, your instincts go into an override mode, and you subconsciously want to make yourself feel safe. Being unattractive is safe, so you eat extra calories.
What changes in your perception of your body when you see your bleeding gums as a sign of your inability to truly communicate how you feel, almost like you have to “bite your own words”?
How can you translate your body’s symptoms using metaphors and stories? What is it that you “cannot stomach” that’s causing your nausea? What is it that you don’t want to hear, that’ causing your hearing loss? Where are you heading in life that you don’t want to go, that’s causing your plantar fasciitis?
Your body is speaking to you all the time. Are you listening?
IT TAKES TIME – oh yea it does! It took you your entire lifetime (in many cases it came from your ancestry) to slowly develop the illness you have now. Year by year the toxicity accumulated and the inflammation was spreading throughout your body. All those late-night drinking, all those pizzas, arguments with loved ones, fluoridated toothpaste use, chemicals in your food and water, medication use and that one time you did coke with your friends in college. Oh, and I forgot to mention, Pitocin and Epidural your mom had injected during your delivery in the hospital, where they injected you with Hepatitis vaccine meant for sexually active adults and drug addicts, even though you could barely suck on the bottle of GMO soy and corn syrup formula.
It will take time for your body to detoxify, for you to develop and maintain new habits, for your emotions to dislodge and move through your body to be released, for new cells to be formed, for all that past to be moved away from and left behind. It will take longer than a year, and most likely you will have to maintain yourself for the rest of your life. And it will be the most rewarding thing you will ever commit to!
NEVER-ENDING STORY – this one goes hand in hand with the previous trap. The moment you heal something, whether it is an emotion, an ancestral trauma, your thinking and beliefs, or your acne, something else pops up! You thought you’re done, and a few days or weeks later you discover that there is more to deal with. Do not get discouraged, because the better it gets, the better it gets. This process could be compared to peeling an onion: there are layers of “stuff” covering the core issue. Do not stop half way. Give yourself time to integrate the lessons you are learning before moving on to the next “layer”.
And don’t forget to live your life in between all this! You can develop negative associations with healing!
IT COSTS A LOT – how much money is now invested in your supplements? How about all those doctor’s visits? Add onto that the monthly massage, all the books you bought, weekly groceries (organic can get costly), fab gym clothes, and all the modalities you have ever tried before. It all adds up!
Or is it actually the fact that now you are paying attention to where your money is going? It was easier to go out for tacos on a Tuesday afternoon and spend “just a little” every morning on your sugary coffee-like drink. Is it possible that your spending prior to starting this journey was more “mindless”?
The fact that your spending before was giving you instant gratification is important to mention as well. Now you are INVESTING, and the real results might not come in until next year! Keep that in mind next time you swipe your card at the chiropractor’s office. And also keep in mind that in 10 years you could have been on 2 statin drugs, a beta blocker, injections for knee pain, 80 lbs. overweight, unable to walk up the stairs, with a diagnosis of Diabetes hanging over your head.
Your future self will thank you for investing in yourself today.
RELAPSES FEEL LIKE FAILURES – it does not matter if you are recovering from binge eating, Hashimoto’s or cancer – once you experience a significant improvement in your well being, every temporary relapse of the condition you are recovering from will feel just awful. Gaining 30 pounds back after losing 70 will feel like all your effort and hard work was for nothing. When your labs come back positive for antibodies after you were officially in remission, it will feel like doomsday.
Life happens, we all learn as we go. We all are peeling the layers of our dis-ease to discover the core issue causing it. Echoes from the past will come back to make sure that we removed all that is no longer serving us. There is no cheating in healing. Your commitment is the only thing that will keep you on track. Remember, you did it once, and you can do it again. You can lose weight again. You can clean up your diet again. You can revisit emotional healing again. This time you’ll know where to start.
WORTHINESS AND DESERVING – oh, this one is BIG! You know what I am talking about here: that voice in your head, right before you are about to fall asleep, asking you: “do you really believe that you deserve to have a better life?” … Or your own questions stopping you from spending extra on organic food, massage, or supplements: “why am I buying this? My mother would never spend so much on herself!” … And my favorite pesky self-hating thought of them all: “I can’t have it; this is reserved for BETTER people”.
As much as you can hear and read slogans telling you that you are enough and that you deserve to be well, it will never make you feel that way. No matter how many affirmations you say or how much your family keeps telling you this, a question of your own worthiness and deserving will come up at some point. Whether it is a question of “do I deserve to be ill” or “do I deserve to heal?” it is always coming from that place deep in you that learned years ago that to receive something you have to do something.
Every time your parents were showing you any type of affection after you did something well, you convinced yourself that you have to do things a certain way in order to receive love. We all have that trauma from our childhood. We keep repeating this pattern with ourselves in our adult lives. The best thing that helped me to overcome this feeling of lack of worthiness is to imagine myself as a child. When I don’t feel like I am worthy of something good, I imagine a 3-year-old self (find a photo of yourself at that age and remember how you looked then), and then I ask my adult self: is that 3-year-old me deserving to be loved? Does she deserve the best foods on the planet? Does she deserve care? The answer is always YES. Then I ask myself: at what point in my life I lost that innate worthiness? If a clear answer comes up, I work on forgiveness, if no answer can be found, I know that I just temporally forgot about my goodness.
What answers come up for you when you do this exercise?
ISOLATION – during your healing, you will come to certain conclusions. Your priorities will shift, and your principles will get an update. You will start living your life according to new properties. When this happens, #relationships from your “old” life will change as well.
Many of our relationships are based on what I call the 3P’s: principle, profit, and pleasure. You can examine your relationships now to see where they fit. You will find out that it is usually the mix of those 3P’s that defines your relationships.
Principle based relationships are based on a similar or the same principle between the people in that relationship. They believe the same thing, or are for/against the same system or an organization. A common idea is shared between them. When that common idea changes, the relationship usually dissolves. Examples of this include: friends of you who believe that money makes people bad – and then you improve your relationship with money and make some, and suddenly they are no longer your friends. Or people in your life who are there only because you share the same political views. This also includes friends who hold a surface relationship with you because you are a family or somewhat close with another person they value more. You get the idea…
Profit based relationships are about material gains. The common thought circling in these relationships is this: I will do something for you because I will need you in the future, or I did something for you so now you owe me. This might be good for business arrangements, but it is a disastrous philosophy in friendships and romantic relationships. Please note that this can also run in families! An example includes: friends of you who get pissed at you when you cannot provide them with something of material value; friends of you who seem to be around you only when you are buying drinks and lunch; friends of you who do you a favor not because they want to wholeheartedly help you, but because they want you to owe them.
Pleasure based relationships are based on the unspoken agreement that one person provides something pleasurable for the other person (and vice versa). That pleasure might be physical (friends with benefits) or non-physical, like activities (you have your going-out-to-dance friends, biking friends, and movie-watching friends).
While it is not wrong to have these relationships; they all have a place and time in our lives; it is a misunderstanding that these friends will provide you with support during your illness and healing from that illness. Unless the relationship is based on genuine emotional and intellectual bond, it will not provide you with an unconditional sense of belonging. Don’t beat yourself up for having these relationships in your life and expecting these “friends” to catch you when you fall. It is a lifelong practice to accept others wholeheartedly and care for others as you would care for yourself (a more reliable foundation to relationships).
Let go of those who do not support you and don’t be afraid to be alone for a little while. Once you remove what no longer serves you, you’ll be surprised how quickly that void fills up with those who share the same core values as you.
To learn more about the role of relationships in healing, visit my blogpost on relationships here.
Let me know in the comments below where do you get stuck in your healing. What "trap" do you find yourself falling for the most? How do you transmute those moments of stifle into growth?
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