Healing is a process that is very slow and long. You will find that there is a lot to learn and unlearn – about yourself, your past, human behavior, how the brain functions, and a lot more. It is never a linear process and it is very difficult to be consistent.
You must not judge yourself and keep in mind that this is not a small race but a marathon.
It is important that you take up the role of a cheerleader for yourself. And whenever you find signs of change along the way, make it a point to celebrate them. Trauma can be recent, years old, or even generational.
So here is how to tell if there has been some progress in the process of healing:
- Acknowledgement and acceptance of the reality that you have gone through a difficult experience that has changed your life in various ways – mental, physical, and social. You no longer deny the experience and the impact it made.
- You go inwards, seeking answers and peace. You let yourself feel everything and suppress nothing. You find yourself perfectly in control of your emotions unlike before.
- You allow others to help you, be it friends, family, or psychotherapists. You have released the compulsion to carry this burden alone. And made a realization that there are people and whole communities who understand your pain and can also help you. Seeking help is not being cowardly, instead, it is a sign of being brave because you have allowed yourself to open up to others.
- You have gotten better at recognizing your feelings and also naming them. Not everybody is emotionally intelligent. People who grew up in a particular kind of familial circumstances where they were shamed for being emotional tend to feel unloved. They are unable to learn to manage negative emotions.
- You have stopped blaming yourself for everything. Self-criticism is a behavioral pattern in most women with trauma. You have recognized this pattern and tried to break free from it. You have realized that not every mistake is a fault of yours and that others have had roles to play in it too.
- You have stopped second-guessing everything. Ruminating about everything becomes an impulsive habit and you have come out of that. You don’t feel the need to think about alternatives to every challenge posed to you and go confidently with the one that felt like intuition. To you, this will feel like you have gained self-confidence.
- You don’t feel pressure before speaking up. You have started to confidently voice your thoughts, now that you have understood how important it is to speak up and not hide behind inhibitory feelings. You don’t focus on pleasing others anymore but on your own need to express yourself.
- You take rejections in a positive stride. People grow attachment issues and the kind of emotional response they show often tends to drive people away because it becomes too much drama for them to handle. Being aware of your emotions and taking rejections as simply rejections and not as a slight is a good sign of growth in healing.
- You set boundaries for others and stick to maintaining them. Boundaries are good. They protect you and your mental health. If you have grown the ability to set healthy boundaries and also recognize the boundaries of others, then it is a good sign of growth.
- You have started setting personal goals. It is a big step towards a bright and sustainable future. It means you have taken up the challenge and agreed to work on it bit by bit.
- Stress, trauma, anxiety, depression, or mental illness of any kind causes our body muscles to become tense. A stressed person would often find their jaw clenched, or their body muscles tightened. When the process of healing begins, these muscles become relaxed and the person automatically feels a lot calmer than before.
- Trauma and stress can make you feel like you are unable to live in the moment. You feel there should be more hours in a day for you to be able to complete your tasks. Time feels to be passing very quickly. But all if it changes as, you start healing. You find yourself more focused on your work and afterward you find that there is still more time left to yourself.
You will find yourself on a winning streak of healing, going on for days, weeks, or even months, and then suddenly discover that you have stopped. It will become clear that healing is not a linear path of progression. That there will be many blocks, and times when you will lose momentum. But you will always be back on track in no time.
It’s all like a large jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes you find the fit in one go, other times it seems like you’ve found the fit only to discover it wasn’t a fit. But the beauty is in moving those pieces! Always celebrate those small wins, for it matters in the overall scheme of healing.
There are multiple ways to find your way towards healing. Therapy, meditation, yoga, and arts are only some of them. It is important to find the one that gives you the most satisfaction.
It will be wrong to say that healing makes a person whole because it doesn’t. There is simply no way to erase the things one has experienced in their life. A person cannot be restored as if it were a damaged object that has been restored or refurbished again, now without a crack or scratch.
What healing rather accomplishes is that it makes you shine, and feel content about yourself, despite the blemishes and imperfections.
Pat yourself! You’re a diamond and you’ve come a long way!
The cracks and scratches will never fill in but slowly and surely, they will become so minor a detail in your larger and richer life.