Healing is a journey that is unique to each individual. It is not a straightforward, linear process but rather a complex and dynamic one that is shaped by a variety of factors. Whether you’re dealing with an injury, illness, or emotional trauma, the path to healing can be unpredictable and filled with twists and turns (which usually suck). Understanding that healing is not linear is crucial in order to navigate the journey effectively and make the most of the process. In this blog post, I will share a part of my story of healing and give you the most profound tips and insights that I learned to help you optimize your own healing journey.
I received a beautiful email from one of my readers who asked, “I just wanted to know how you went about your healing journey.”
Ahhhh, where to even start?
In short, it wasn’t therapy.
It was a lot of trial and error. Failed attempts at figuring out who I was. Trying new things, falling on my face, and getting back up. There were tears, frustration, and anger. Books. Lots of books. Conversations about life, letdowns, and sadness. People coming and people going. Disappointment and contemplation. And many moments sitting in the discomfort of my own thoughts.
But looking back, all of that sums up one main idea; healing is a process, and it is not a linear one.
Healing is not linear because everyone progresses at different rates.
My journey to healing was kinda forced upon me after I shot myself. I was literally insane, so that helped. I mean, there’s only one way out from rock bottom. And that’s up. And there’s only one way out of a psych ward. It’s to pretend (at least) that you are thinking rationally. So while I might have faked my way out of there (because I’m pretty sure the psychologist was high), it was the catalyst for change.
That being said, it didn’t happen all at once. It wasn’t like I woke up one morning healed. Not even close. In fact, it has been a 20-year process. For me, it was a very slow process, as it is for a lot of people. I was trying new things, exploring who I was and what I actually wanted from life, and that only came from experience, heartache, mistakes, and the tenacity to get back up and do it better the next time around.
Healing is not linear because there are going to be setbacks, and navigating the ups and down is part of the journey.
But the point I really want to drive home is that healing is not a linear process (although it would be really nice if it were).
I say this because it’s easy to look at other people and question ourselves because we might be in the middle of a literal shit-storm and living a nightmare. Life might be falling apart before our eyes, the foundation may be crumbling at our feet, and it seems insurmountable to get out from under it.
I get it. I’ve been there too. And sometimes it’s not even because of our own doing but because of our associations, our families, our jobs, our kids making shitty choices.
But hear me when I say: it is what we do to get back up, to get back on the path, to never stop in the pursuit of betterment that matters over the long run.
In the big scheme of things, it’s the day-to-day pursuit that matters, not the amount of shit life throws at us. But it’s always good to have less shit in your life, and I have found that the better I have learned to manage my day-to-day with intention, the less life seems to throw shit my way.
There is power in our shared experiences.
Nobody is immune to shitty circumstances; nobody. And that’s good news because it is the only thing all of us have in common. The struggle is what connects us; it is what makes us human. Therefore, how much money you make doesn’t exempt you, the quality of life you had growing up doesn’t exempt you, the job you have doesn’t exempt you, and the amount of love you receive doesn’t exempt you.
The secret is in how we respond. This isn’t a new concept, but it’s an easy one to forget.
Connecting with others who have been through what you are going through is a powerful means of healing. It’s why we have support groups. It’s why many thrive on group coaching. Your story may be what someone else needs to hear to help them on their journey, and vice versa. We can derive incredible insight and inspiration when we surround ourselves with people who have gone before us and paved the way. When we can see others who have been able to heal from trauma and create a meaningful life for themselves, it makes the reality more feasible for us too.
Do not discount the power of shared experience.
Healing is not linear because it requires experience
Matthew McConaughey says it perfectly in his book, Greenlights (if you haven’t read it, you should!) when he says,
“I’ll take an exerienced C over an ignorant A any day”Matthew McConaughey
When we go through life, some of the greatest lessons are going to be those where you stepped in shit, struggled to get out but eventually made the decision to clean it off and learned how to avoid it the next time around. I call this learning the hard way-through experience (usually a bad experience). I’m stubborn, so you could tell me a million times not to do something, and I’m not going to believe you until I do it myself and then say, “so…remember when you told me _____ was a bad idea? Turns out you might have been right.” A blessing and a curse.
Successfully getting out of the shit life throws at you is directly related to your ability to manage and control your emotions because the shit is often the precursor to some deep-rooted narrative that takes over your thoughts.
The Better you are at managing your emotions, the easier life is.
Managing your emotions is a process that should be taught at a young age because it requires time to learn, time to practice, and time to fall flat on your face and get back up. Unfortunately, most of us weren’t given the luxury of learning about our emotions beyond being told not to cry or not to be mad, or not to be whatever we were.
So what happens when we are grown adults and struggling to master our emotions? (Oh, and if you’re curious about your level of emotional maturity, take my free quiz!)
It takes us longer. We might have some narratives that we’ve got to eliminate, but the good news is that emotional maturity is a skill that is available to us all. (More on what emotional maturity is here)
Learning how to master my emotions literally saved my life.
It is why I’m so passionate about the work I do because, in my soul, I believe it to be the most profound aspect of my healing.
I still step in shit (we all do), and when I do, I know how to handle it in a mature way that alleviates its effects on my life.
I want you to remember that healing is a complex and personal process that is not linear. It can (and will) involve setbacks, and that’s okay. It is important to remember that everyone’s journey is different and that it is a lifelong process. You’ve got to be patient with yourself and never underestimate the power of experience and a positive mindset.
And above all, I hope you take this reminder with you on your journey:
Healing is not just the absence of pain; it is the process of becoming whole again. (And the fastest path to wholeness is by learning to master your emotions.