Sometimes we must unravel so we can be properly knit back together, the way we were meant to be. Prior to going through therapy, I was generally an easy going person, at least on the outside. As a child I learned to appear “perfect” so others would like me. It wasn’t a sustainable approach and by my late 30’s I completely imploded, shattering the perfect image I unconsciously worked my whole life to maintain. When I embarked on my healing journey, I noticed I wasn’t so agreeable anymore. If someone offended me, I would speak up in a blundering hurtful way. I didn’t know how to have a productive, healthy voice. I was practicing skills I had not used before. In my “perfect” state I brushed away offenses, “No problem, I ‘m fine.” But I wasn’t. I was just shoving all that hurt deep inside for the sake of being liked. Practicing speaking up was hard at first, then it got easier and more productive.
Now, I’m noticing a new development. I don’t always desire to say anything. It takes more to offend me. I’m noticing that times when I used to be easily hurt I am now not so bothered. I’m not shoving the hurt away, it’s just not there. I have an increased capacity to stop and understand this other person is not likely trying to hurt me. That perhaps their sharp edges are unhealthy ways of protecting their tender parts and they don’t know another way yet to deal with that.
I am certainly not saying this like, “Oh, look at me! I’ve got it all together.” Oh heck no! Anyone close to me knows all to well that I still have work to do. I am not tooting my own horn but rather the horn of the power of dealing with your inner garbage. I’m noticing as I go through this healing journey a sense of becoming who I was meant to be. The me I thought I was supposed to be was a very messy and hurtful product. 39 years worth of knitting together was unravelled to begin anew. 15 years later I am still seeing the benefits of the journey. I have a long way to go. I am not fixed, just well into the process. I am so grateful we can change. I am grateful we can unravel and be reknit into the creation we were meant to be. Healing is possible. Wounds from the past do not have to dictate who we are forever.
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I just returned from two weeks in Uganda. I was there with Azmera, an organization that puts on retreats for women who serve overseas. One theme that kept rising again and again was the belief that negative thoughts of oneself needed to be removed by God. If the negative patterns/thoughts remained even after fervent prayer, God was choosing not to heal.
Our negative thoughts/beliefs/patterns are usually the result of neural pathways we have developed over the course of our lives. The antidote is not miraculous healing, although that is totally possible, I have yet to see it happen. It would be like getting a diagnosis of obesity due to unhealthy habits and praying to God to remove the extra weight. Each day the weight remains seems to be the message you are not going to be “healed” of your obesity. It is wise to seek God’s help but you must also do some of the heavy lifting, in this case perhaps literally through increased exercise, also by changing your eating habits to meet the nutritional needs of your body but not indulging in all the wants (unhealthy food, too much food, the wrong kind of food for your body…).
I am an advocate of taking control of our thoughts through awareness and intentionally changing the way we think. I know this approach works because I have changed my own neural pathways. I’m not perfect at it and at times slip back into old patterns. I have also experienced the freedom when I make wiser choices around my thoughts. I sometimes feel less-than or inferior to others. If I let those thoughts take hold and go unchecked I can spiral into depression and believing I am useless compared to others. This is not true! It’s a lie! I have value and worth on this planet. I’m not the expert in all things and there are many who are more effective in the very same work I do but that’s ok. There’s plenty of room for all of us. The way I communicate, the understandings I have connect with some people and that’s good enough. I don’t need to be the end all. If one person is affected positively by my blog posts, books, sessions, etc., I am content. Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake.
I want to encourage you to remember, we don’t change by praying or even just imaging ourselves as more healthy. We change because we do the hard work of living intentionally, understanding why we do what we do, sharing our story with others who compassionately love us where we are at, and taking the conscious steps necessary to create new and healthy neural pathways. God wants us to invite Him into the process, but I believe He wants us to do our part.
Categories: Acceptance, awareness, Depression, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, neural pathways, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help
Tags: Azmera, Uganda
To get to this blog, you may have turned on your computer or picked up your phone, took the steps to get onto Facebook and perused people’s posts. You did most of this, if not all, without really thinking about what you were doing. That’s an example of a neural pathway. Neural pathways are these cool connections in your brain that get developed over time as you are exposed more and more to a stimulus and response. They can be for knowledge, like cat is spelled C-A-T or ‘gato’ is the Spanish word for cat. They can be for behaviors, like when you criticize me I get defensive.
It takes a lot of repetition for a neural pathway to become like a default setting: something you do without needing to consciously think about it. It’s a lot like cutting a new path in the rainforest. It takes a long time and a lot of work for a path to be well worn and easy to find. Anytime you want to change a behavior or learn something new, you will have to be very intentional about it for awhile. We get frustrated when we are trying to change because we keep doing the old unwanted behavior. Be gentle with yourself. Remember it takes time to cut a new path in the rainforest. 🙂
To learn more, check out the Journey Forward Workbook. Another option is the Journey Forward Workbook Video Series designed for those who prefer an audio/visual presentation of the information in the Workbook. It will be available very soon on my website: Journey Forward for Life. If you want to get on my email list and find out as soon as it’s available click the “Sign Up Now’ button.