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Healing is About Progress, Not Perfection

Healing is About Progress, Not Perfection

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At some point in college or my early twenties, my grandmother gifted me a scrapbook full of poems, stories, cartoons, and musings, all of which had spoken to her at different times in her life. I like to think it encouraged me to start gathering my own pieces which I have saved in my phone, in a box in my closet, and many pinned up on my various cork boards. The one that has spoken to me most frequently is above.

This spring has had me ruminating about healing. Whether it’s healing from surgery, healing from a failed relationship, or healing from the past, we desperately want there to be a beginning and an end to healing. Linear is soooo much easier, because there is a definite ending point to discomfort and pain. Think about it.

You might say to yourself, “Today is surgery and in 6 weeks I will be walking around again.” or “I left my husband today, and in a year that relationship will be behind me, and I will have moved on.”

“I grew up in a family where I was not accepted for who I am, but now that I am an adult, that doesn’t matter, I am healed.”

Linear healing, man, that would be amazing. Just think how you could come to CJFS for counseling and hear, “Yes, in exactly 6 months, you will be healed.” The phones would be ringing non-stop for a promise such as that.

Unfortunately, healing is not linear. It is an unpredictable journey moving back and forth and sideways. It is waking up one day after the loss of a spouse ready to get out of bed and face a new life, and then a month later being dealt the blow of a memory so bittersweet that bed is in fact the only place to be. It is progress being made in physical therapy after surgery only to have a setback that puts you back on the walker. It is nightmares and depression rearing their heads after years away from the trauma that you believed you had “put behind you.”

And yet, we do heal. Research has shown that people who learn from their experiences encounter growth in these areas of their lives and then use these new learnings to move ahead.

Think about the picture above. If our healing was linear there would never be a chance to put our growth into practice. Oh, it is not easy to remind ourselves to attune to our body, or practice techniques to reduce anxiety, or allow ourselves time to process grief, especially when it feels as if our healing has been disrupted. But that is the time when it is necessary to reach back and think about what has helped you in the past and pull from that source – your knowledge about yourself.

What has previously helped you get through the day? Before this day, how did you get yourself to sleep better? What tools do you already have that you can pull from? And now, what new tools can you incorporate as you heal?

Healing is a journey full of switchbacks and dead ends, but it can also be a time of powerful change and growth and moving forward.  As we travel this winding road to healing it is helpful to remember that it is about “progress, not perfection”.

CJFS professional counseling can help you on your healing journey. Contact us at 205-879-3438 or info@cjfsbham.org.