When I began really healing, I seemed to keep ‘diving’ into the deep ends. I would become tangled in the deep-water reeds, coming up bewildered and powerless.
My facilitator said; ‘Try to participate and not go too deep…stay on the surface.’
This idea shone a light directly on a core trait I had to constantly navigate – perfectionism.
An outcome-focused education system that compares us to one another through rankings and marks, can breed a sense of ‘not-enough-ness’. We are trained to looking sideways instead of within… link self-worth to being better-than or less-than rather than being ourselves.
I was bringing this ‘school’ of thinking to my healing… which meant I focused on big breakthroughs, heavy processing and deep material to ‘get it done’ faster – forgetting and dismissing the need to slow down & come up for air.
Not only was this dangerous and potentially harmful, It was also incredibly frustrating. Unlike goals that we set, measure, and achieve with detailed attention to linear ‘steps’… healing is cyclical. Healing is process-based. Healing comes in waves. Healing is three steps forward and two steps back.
I came to understand that to actually make progress, I needed to slow down. Focus less on the outcomes and enjoy more of the process. I.e. life.
How do I do that? How do I cultivate the under-developed muscle, of tuning into myself in any moment, and knowing what brings me joy? And how do I learn to do this daily?
At first I tried squeezing in something ‘joyful’ at the end of my day. It didn’t really work. It felt like another item on my to-do list I had to do to achieve a certain end.
And then I had the intuition to prioritise it by bringing this practice to the start of my day. Before doing anything else – to tune in and ask myself, ‘What will bring me joy, right now?’ And then engaging in that.
My experience has been a shift in my mornings, and slowly, I’ve come to sometimes look forward to what has previously been, the hardest time of the day. In moments, I’ve felt a returning to the sense of my own child-self, who could tell you at any given moment, what exactly would bring joy – most likely because she would already be doing it.
There were so many less barriers back then…
Some of the sad things about adult-living is the barriers to joy. And when I first learned about this practice, (which in trauma-informed literature is also termed ‘resourcing’) I felt it to be rather impossible; great in theory but not so practical.
I was thinking of ‘resourcing’ in economic terms. Receiving good things is something that I pay for. Enduring hard things is something that I earn money for. This is the adult-way.
It took me time and a considerable amount of re-framing to learn that doing things that bring me joy, doesn’t have to cost money. And even if it does cost money, isn’t it worth the investment?
Finally, that doing something I enjoy everyday – is not another outcome!!! It’s not another thing that I ‘have’ to do to achieve something…it simply, is.
So first we focus on the stage of attunement where we may still be at: ‘What do I need?’ And when there is capacity for more we ask, ‘What is my joy?’ 🙂
And then we practise these questions, every day.
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