Starting your Journey; Awareness
Taking the first step to improving your wellbeing can be daunting. We are assaulted with so much information and tips like "just be happy!", "positive affirmations!", "trust the universe!" and so on... While these are great tools, if you don't even know why you can't be just be happy then how will any of this work? This is where, what I would say is the first step in the climb towards healing, Awareness comes into play.
Awareness is a state of knowing something and being observant. When we are aware we are alert and we are paying attention to what's taking place in our lives. Unfortunately so many of us are genuinely not aware. We move through our lives unsure of our feelings, unable to control our emotions, often in a daze or dreaming of the past or future. I don't want to be a downer but you can't get better if you don't know what you need to heal.
It wasn't until I turned 30 that I was able to identify my anxiety. It was when I first learnt that the instability I experienced growing up would have a large impact on my behaviour. I was so loved by my family so it had never occurred to me how much it would mold how I felt, decide how I act in relationships, how I allow myself to be treated, my confidence, my reactions and so on... It made me who I was. The same will be true for you. Don't you think 30 years is too long to go without actually being in control of your own life?
It's a hard reality that in order to find balance, happiness and manage mental illness or negative behaviours you are required to become aware of your triggers. Next time you're in a situation and you notice you get really angry, upset or say something you don't mean, stop and take a moment to think about what was said, the action that may have caused this reaction, the person and then identify the emotion. It will seem like a lot of work at first, a lot of speculating. It will be scary because you will need to face the fact that you have experienced trauma, and it is running your life. Your pain is holding you back, and it doesn't need to.
Getting to know yourself through the power and practice of awareness will bring so much relief. The ability to identify why something bothers us takes away a lot of the frustration and pain of unknown feelings. Reason's are relief. Being able to tell yourself that you reacted a certain way because of an insecurity, abandonment issues (my #1 problem!) or a fear or some kind will point your internal compass in the direction of what needs to be explored deeper.
A really great exercise I learnt in therapy was creating a timeline. Draw a line across a sheet of a paper. The far left is your birth and the right is to date. Above the line will be positive experiences and below will be negative. Just start writing situations and experiences that you remember and be honest with yourself. Creating a timeline will help you tell your story. If this takes you a week to complete so you can properly get all your memories on paper, that is ok (there are no deadlines when it comes to healing). This exercise will help you create those connections I talked about earlier and identify patterns.
When I first created mine I was alarmed to see how much of my youth I remembered as negative. I had so few positive memories. It showed me I felt neglected, unaccepted, lost and that I was never good enough. I was grieving. I remember leaving that session feeling a mixture of so much sad and so much joy. I wasn't just an unhappy fucked up adult. I had been conditioned to believe I wasn't allowed to express my feelings and by doing that I avoided connection, honesty and deliberately was with friends and partners that I knew wouldn't last.
a. Example of timeliness exercise
Example of self discovery: During my worst, my boyfriend and I fought a lot and when we would I was a runner. I either attempted to break up with him or I literally just left and avoided the fight that I started. In times of intense emotion I just had to leave. I didn't know what I was feeling and through my timeline exercise I learnt that I had never been able to properly express myself as a child and therefore processing emotions was a tool I did not possess (and I am far from alone here). As soon as I left, I was already begging him to take me back because (dun dun dun) abandonment issues!
It was so empowering to know why I was doing things. Immediately I knew I did not want to be this way and it helped cultivate the energy I needed to change.
I urge you to just start to listen and observe. Don't judge and maybe even don't start with labeling anything. Begin by saying something like "ok feeling I see you, I am AWARE of your presence" and let yourself feel it. Just know, a healing journey takes time. A lot of us are not aware of the volume of trauma or bullshit we've experienced. You probably deserve a god damn trophy for still being here and waking up everyday. Uncovering pain sucks but what's on the other side is so much peace, a quite mind, a still heart.
Coming soon to the blog, the next step to your healing; Acceptance.
Xoxox - KC