As a complex post trauma survivor I ask myself this question almost every day but just in a different form. How am I continuing my healing on a daily basis? The real secret to kick-ass-healing after trauma is getting better and staying better. My own journey has had many twists, turns, near-death experiences, and chaos. When we can’t stay better (because nothing works perfectly) then we move to determining what on our regular plan will help us immediately and any other go to emergency methods in our tool box.
Our brain does not like change and is often wired specifically to detect a reason to fear. Our primitive brain, the brain stem, still filters much of the stimuli. We have to get into our frontal lobes and continue the thinking process. We have to allow our brain to process completely. For me, a deep breath before I react to whatever stimuli I am receiving is a must. Not only am I helping provide much-needed fuel to my brain (oxygen), I am allowing my brain time to continue processing, reappraising, and reassessing prior to my action. This brain activity ultimately creates new connections and will help me to rewire my brain from my old way of handling things.
Of course, it’s impossible to police your thoughts 24/7. The goal isn’t to police our thoughts constantly. That can also end up in overwhelm, burnout, relapse, and anxiety attacks as well. Our brain has few options at that level. Fight. Flight. Fright. Freeze. wtF. Our brains are plastic, malleable, and can change. The old adage, “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” no longer applies. That old dog can learn much more than a few tricks. Lifelong learners are achieving great heights. Staying engaged, mentally active and out of overwhelm help a great deal. Rather than trying to stay away from negative thoughts it is much easier to focus on the positive. Of course, no one can be perfect. No one really has the capability to be perfect. We aren’t designed to be perfect. We are designed to be ourselves. Our unique perspective may be just the perfect thing.
Everyone’s recipe for resilience is different. Someone may use medication, meditation, a support animal, weekly conversations with supportive people, stand-up comedy, good food and good sleep. Another may need to add a daily run to help keep their head clear.
It’s important to remember perfection is impossible to achieve however we can achieve our best each and every day. Having a “lazy day” helps to keep us centered, grounded, sane and resilient. No need to carry any blame or shame related to not being able to achieve everything on your “to-do” list. Some days the greatest achievement may be not reacting with anger when someone cuts you off or decides to highlight a perceived flaw. Taking a deep breath and becoming aware that it’s impossible to express how and what we are going through on a daily basis and empathizing with the other has been significant in my continued resiliency. Learning to move with the flow of life, the ups and the downs, has allowed me to take what comes as it comes and remain present. I am no longer a terrified little girl navigating an adult world. I am me — doing my best on a daily basis. Regular self-care is absolutely necessary to grow more resilient. As always, find what works best for you.