Written by: Ryan Light, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Our emotions come from deeper seated issues, usually tied to trauma.
As you begin to move through the healing process, you will become more aware of your protective self. Now you may think the protective self is doing exactly what it states and protecting you.
However, your protective self is what's hurting you.
You can discover the difference in protection vs. harm by learning the distinctions between two other simple, yet complicated words:
"Why?" and "What?"
"Why?" Steals, "What?" Heals
Asking questions such as, "Why is this happening?" or "Why me?", will keep you fixated on your story. This in turn invalidates your pain through obsessing over and looking for someone or something to blame. You should focus on the feeling, NOT the question. Allow the feeling in by acknowledging it (without judgment) and sitting with it.
Part of mindfulness is learning how to sit with those feelings without going back to the "Why?" When you turn towards blame shifting or shaming, the cycle of anxiety will only continue.
However, if you allow yourself to focus on where in the body you feel it, this will open the opportunity to discover the "What?"
The "What?" refers to, "What is this feeling trying to teach me?" Sitting with and allowing your feelings is what constitutes validation. The more you validate your feelings, the more the uncomfortable sensations will lessen. As they dissipate and you are no longer thrown into a complete state of fear or panic, this will offer you the opportunity to discover the "Who?" of where your feelings originated from.
A few things to keep in mind as you work through this process are:
Feelings are NOT facts! Example: Just because you feel fear does not mean your current situation is one that is in fact fearful.
Feelings are temporary. Your current feelings are not going to last forever.
Sit with it when you DON'T need it, so you will be able to implement it when you DO need it. Practice how to sit with and hyper-focus on your feelings and where they reside in your body. That way when you become triggered, this process will not be as fearful and easier to walk through.
Self-Care Leads to Self-Love
Once you can differentiate between the "Why?" and the "What?", you can put into action the practices of "self".
Love is a verb. Many often think self-love is something you can either find, get, or buy. The reality is self-love is something that needs to be PROVEN, as in through actions.
So, how do you prove it?
By simultaneously implementing the actions of the following three pillars into your daily routine:
Physical: This involves activities such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, regular exercise, eating properly, staying hydrated, taking your medications, etc.
Spiritual: This could involve attending church, studying Bible plans, volunteering/community service, involvement in serving or church groups, etc.
Emotional: This might include the likes of journaling, attending therapy, coaching, counseling, sitting with your feelings, healing workbooks, etc.
Self-love is proven through the process of self-care, which is the driving force needed to affirm what you are attempting to believe about yourself.
I would highly encourage you to take stock of these three pillars at the end of each week. When you are not working on all three at the same time, your life will most likely feel off balance or "out of whack".
I often find consistency becomes an issue as well with these pillars. The fact is you will never love something you don't care for, and you will never care for something you don't accept.
Therefore, if you have not yet accepted yourself, you will not consistently practice self-care, which is what ultimately leads to self-love.
Another fallacy I find people tend to believe is that "Time heals all wounds." The reality is, time itself does not heal all wounds, but it's what you DO during that time which will.
DOING over time = Healing
Doing NOTHING over time = Hurting
People tend to fake themselves out.
What I mean by that is you find yourself working on all three pillars at once (exercising, going to church, therapy, journaling, eating right, etc.) yet it still seems as if nothing changes. You then get angry, frustrated, and want to give up altogether.
For example, picture yourself sitting in a boat. You are paddling with all your might yet continue to remain in the same spot. You are doing all the work but remain stuck.
The reason for this is because you have anchored yourself.
Just like an anchor you drop from a boat keeps you weighted down in the same spot; we oftentimes do the same exact thing to ourselves.
Yes, you are doing the work, but are you doing the right work?
Are you really sitting with your feelings, or trying to rush through the process?
Are you paying attention in church, or just going to say you did?
Are you eating properly, or are you still skipping meals/binging?
Have you truly forgiven?
Healing involves being honest with yourself. You often fake yourself out and believe you are doing what needs to be done, but in fact are not even skimming the surface of your wounds.
When you become brutally honest, you can discover what it is keeping you anchored. As you begin to lift those anchors, this will allow you to sail through life at an easier pace.
Now this doesn't mean that storms won't erupt, or you won't veer off course from time to time. What it does mean is that as you lift those anchors, you will learn how to work through the obstacles in a healthier way. So, when difficulties do arise, you will know how to navigate your way through without turning back to unhealthy coping mechanisms or anchoring yourself once again.
One thing you need to watch out for as you begin to lift those anchors is self-sabotage. You might lean towards sabotaging your progress out of a level of addiction to the pain. When this happens, the anchors will again fall, and you'll be right back where you started – paddling but going nowhere.
Self-sabotage occurs because as you begin to heal, you are leaving the confines of your comfort zones. Part of the healing process is learning how to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Unfortunately for many, trauma and pain are what lays smack dab in the middle of those comfort zones.
You need to become aware of your tendencies, reactions and behaviors. That is where your power lies to turn unhealthy ways of coping into healthy ones.
Self-discovery is a process which will help you to differentiate between the "Why?" and the "What?". It will teach you the art of acceptance which is the first step to self-care. Through those actions of self-care, you will discover which anchors might be holding you back. Honest self-reflection is where you start to release those anchors, which then will allow your self-care actions to lead you into the realm of self-love.
Ryan Light, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Ryan Light is a mental health coach, author, thought leader, and influencer in the mental health space. Having spent 20 years of his life attempting to run, avoid and hide from the pain of his childhood and adolescence. He struggled with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and panic disorder. After contemplating suicide, Ryan decided to finally confront his traumas through what he now coins “Feeling Work” and heal the real issues plaguing him with various mental health disorders. Today, his passion lies in guiding others through their struggles with anxiety, depression, and/or trauma through such avenues as social media, public speaking, self-paced courses, e-books, live workshops, and 1:1 coaching.