In our culture, things often feel urgent AF.
(I feel like I’m a bit of a broken record here. Urgency is a theme I find myself revisiting from different angles in many of my blog posts. Because it comes up so. damn. much.)
Often we (healing-motivated human beings trying to make it in this wild world) worry that we aren't yet where we want to be. Or that the symptoms or circumstances that plague us haven't changed.
We wonder: When will I be better? How do I know when I'm done healing?
I remember once, a therapist told me that I had all the time I needed to work through my trauma.
At the time, I thought - Time?! I don’t have time! I’m missing out on life, girl!
Me back then couldn’t imagine that I would one day be OK with that statement. It would have felt like a betrayal to myself, back then, to give in to time. Because - maybe you understand me here - it felt like if I couldn’t fix it right then and there, I’d simply be doomed.
But she knew something I didn't know yet - that the pace of healing is inherently slow. And the more I was OK with that, the more ease I'd feel in my healing process.
Well, I’m here to tell you, from the other side, that I’m OK with it all now. I trust that in time I will always get where I need to or am meant to be.
And, really importantly, I trust that I will be able to handle the discomfort on the way there (with the support of people, and other resources, of course).
The Speed of Trust
Eckhart Tolle writes about how pain and suffering thrive on time in his book The Power of Now. Time breeds expectation and comparison.
We wonder: Where am I now? Where do I want to be? How quickly can I get there?
We get trapped in that spiral of looking ahead, and the present becomes less and less precious.
In her book, Emergent Strategy, adrienne maree brown emphasizes the importance of moving at the speed of trust (citing Mervyn Marcano’s “remix” of Stephen Covey’s concept) in organizing and community-building.
This concept encourages us to focus on connections and relationships, and trust that critical mass comes from these seemingly smaller, more iterative interactions.
Consider how you feel when you are forced or expected to do something that goes against everything you've been taught and have internalized? I'm usually hella skeptical.
On the other hand, when we feel listened to and valued, we are more motivated to partner with others in exploration and creation.
That's the magic spot.
Building Trust Somatically
In the same way we can apply this principle to our environment and community, we can bring it into our internal world.
This is not a cognitive experience where we simply instruct ourselves to do something; it is emotional, and somatic, and spiritual, even.
Our emotions, behaviors, relationships, thoughts, and more are carefully shaped by our experiences as well as what we anticipate might happen. This is our body’s wisdom, and yet we are often encouraged to override it for the sake of healing ourselves and our world.
The truth is that our bodies need time to suss things out. Every part of us has an important job.
When challenged, our bodies are compelled to go into protection mode. Our nervous system amps up. Our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings reach down for reinforcement.
Change is guilty until proven innocent.
Our system needs evidence, needs to know it is safe enough to stray from its embodied duties. All the different parts of us need time to get on board: to build trust in their relationships to each other, and in their relationships with us.
This is not a one-and-done - this is an ongoing process of recalibration.
Parts Work for the Pace of Healing
From a Parts Work perspective, the invitation is to seek to understand our internal world. We can ask ourselves:
Which parts of me feel urgency around my healing?
What do they see as their jobs in keeping me alive and well?
Which experiences, beliefs, and relationships shape their perspective?
What do they imagine will happen if I don’t heal in a certain time frame, or in a certain way?
Are they aware of me, the wise self who witnesses their experience from the inside-out?
In doing so, we can naturally create opportunities for organic change. We can explore:
Can this part become more comfortable with its own discomfort, so that it is not reacting from distress?
Are there other parts in my system that want space here in this conversation?
What are my parts willing to experiment with?
Who can I call in to support me so that this part doesn’t feel so alone, and so responsible?
Truly, this shit is like stepping stones. Baby steps. Babies stepping on stepping stones (LOL).
It is upon us to hold the complexity of what we long for while staying present and non-judgemental with what is.
If we want change to be sustainable, to really fit into our lived experience, it must happen one molecule at a time. Sometimes we might find that change begins to snowball, growing exponentially over time, until suddenly the makeup of our experience has completely reorganized itself.
And then eventually, we begin to realize that we aren’t so fucked up after all. We stop trying to fix ourselves so that other people approve of us or trust us.
And then our engagement with our healing becomes about choice, rather than necessity.
We stop feeling like we need to be in therapy because we are broken or dysfunctional. We choose to be in therapy because we desire a deeper connection to ourSelves and those around us. We know our so-called “symptoms” are messages from within, even messages from our ancestors.
Subsequently, our parts feel less urgency, less force, and more welcomed in our lives as companions.
And then, together, we move forward in the ever-evolving process of not just healing, but living.
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