We Don’t Recover by Being Harsh with Ourselves – We Recover by Being Gentle

Words by: Megan Lawrence.  Follow more of her journey at HealingHopefuls.com or on her Instagram, @in.my.own.words.  

It is powerful when someone decides to step into Recovery and make a conscious decision to better their life. It is within this first step that we are able to point ourselves in the right direction. As we continue taking the steps towards becoming the person we were meant to become, we will come to realize that, although we have made the choice to recover, that does not mean it will be smooth sailing from that point on. In fact, you may even be greeted with even tougher battles, and it is because of this that we MUST be gentle with ourselves in our recovery journey.

When it comes to my own experience with recovery, I have hit many uphill climbs, hardships, and unexpected discoveries about myself. When this occurs, I am often left feeling discouraged, confused, and disheartened to find out that there is still more to learn about who I am and why I am the way that I am. I can become very self-critical and harsh with myself, and quite frankly, that is just not fair. It is not fair for anyone to do this to themselves, especially because we are only able to know what we know thus far. Putting ourselves down in any way or wanting to give up on our progress is never going to get us closer to the life that we deserve to live. We chose a life of recovery, not because it was going to be easy, but because it was, and still is, going to be worth it.

Recovery is not synonymous with perfection. If you are recovering with the hopes that you will become a spotless, seemingly unflawed human, you are going to find yourself disappointed on this journey. I say this not to be cruel, but to remind you that you are not perfect. Nobody is. We are all perfectly imperfect as we are, warts and all. When we are hit with a truth about ourselves, we need to embrace it, accept it, and use it to our advantage. We can achieve this by asking, NOT why is this happening to me? But, why is this happening FOR ME? What am I to learn from this realization, and how can I incorporate this into my everyday life moving forward? When we are gentle with ourselves, we allow more room for growth, and we can then step forward into who we are with self-compassion, understanding, and self-love.

One thing I have had to learn numerous times in my dance with recovery is that a couple steps backward is not a failure, but an opportunity to look at my growth from a new perspective. Sometimes we will even be hit with the same obstacle we thought we resolved already, but find ourselves confronted by it yet again from a new angle. This is not a reason to give up. It is, in fact, a new opportunity to expand ourselves as human animals. I for one have faced many of the same challenges, just with a new face. I ALWAYS end up taking away something valuable from these situations, and although uncomfortable at first, we are all way more resilient then we give ourselves credit for. We can withstand many hardships and still live to see the other side of it. I would even go as far to say that we will be able to smile about them as well. When we are gentle with ourselves, we start to see just how much we are capable of overcoming, and THAT, is what we do it for; THAT is why we continue to recover.

Maybe you are recovering from an eating disorder, mental illness, substance abuse, a narcissist, or self-inflicted pain, and even though you know better now, you find yourself in a situation you thought you would have been able to avoid. This does not mean that all the hard work you have done is erased. It is still there. It is always there. Being gentle with ourselves means that we know this is par for the course. There is no guarantee that we will become invincible to pain because although we are recovering, pain is still a part of life. We collect the tools we need as we go, and we use them accordingly when the time calls for it. Mistakes are going to be made, missteps are still going to happen, and hard truths are going to be discovered. There is a reason why so many people avoid recovering in the first place. Be proud of yourself for wanting to recover in the first place. And be gentle with yourself along the way.

Thank you for reading!

 

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Dear Pain, Thank You.

Written by: Gracie who is a friend, spiritual and recovery warrior, and contributing writer to those at Unpolished Journey.

chronic-pain-arthritis

Pain.

Pain comes in many forms.

There are the physical pains that a person experiences.

Chronic joint pains, muscle soreness, or wisdom teeth coming in.

There are emotional pains.

The pain of losing a loved one, feeling alone or fighting depression.

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

Life cannot escape pain.  The body cannot escape pain.  The mind cannot escape pain.  The heart cannot escape pain.  These are all realities and the truth that pain will ebb and flow in our lives is sometimes paralyzing.  We fear the pain of losing someone we love.  We curse the physical limitations of our body.  We get caught in endless loops of self-deprecating thoughts.  All of our pains are real and all of our pains are valid.  I used to hate pain.

Everyone has pain—that is the equalized.  However, everyone deals with pain differently.  I used to avoid pain at any cost—trying to numb, smile through, or ignore the pain.  Then something switched.  I started inviting the pain in and telling myself that I deserved to feel it, that enduring pain would somehow make me a better person.

But I am beginning to understand that pain is just misunderstood.  Pain is a tool, a teacher and a guide.  I have tried to think about the rebirth or newness that comes after walking through pain.  This newness is not determined by how a person moves through their pain.  As humans we have the choice—to numb, ignore, inflict or exacerbate the pain.  However once we have moved through this pain there is always a newness.  It can be the newness of learning to live without a loved one.  It can be the newness of a baby being brought into the world.  The newness is neither all good nor all bad—it just is.  Just as pain is not always all good or all bad—it just is.

I have been reflecting a lot lately on my spiritual journey and the pains that I have felt while battling an eating disorder but also the pains I have dealt with by right of being human.  I do not label pain as bad anymore.  I also do not label pain as good.  Pain is my teacher.  I do not seek pain, but when it comes now…I welcome it.  Pain is a process that yields miraculous results.  Just as a mother experiences excruciating pain of birth to bring a new life into the world.

One of the quotes that has particularly resonated with me lately is this quote from Cynthia Occelii: “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone.  The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes.  To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction”.  To see this seed, one may only see pain: the painful process of cracking, exploding, and coming undone.  And for someone who is observing the seed they may label the process as bad, horrible, frightening or undesirable, but then comes the newness.  Then comes the flower.  Then comes the great Redwood Tree.  Then comes the harvest.

I have started to practice being grateful for my pain.  I do not need to label the pain as good or bad.  I try not to run away from or curse the pain.  I also try not to lean into the pain or allow it to consume all of my energy.  The presence of pain is simply the indicator that growth is beginning.

I am beginning to learn that I will continue to experience pain.  However how I accept and view this pain in my control.  Life will bring unpredictable pains.  I may lose a job, experience a break up, suddenly need to move, or receive the news that a loved one has passed.  However, how I react to this pain will influence how I transform.  Right now I am practicing gratitude.  I want to be grateful for the pain because the pain is leading me to new life, transformation, and growth.  Pain is constantly teaching me about myself.  I am learning what is important to me and what my priorities are.  I am learning who I can count on to listen and provide counsel.  I am learning how to cultivate resiliency.  I am learning to trust and look forward to the beauty of the growth that is coming through my painful experiences.