All too often people romanticize healing. Whether that's psychologically or physically. Healing isn't a process where everything is feeling good and you're lead by the hand of ease. That's the last stage of the whole process, where you finally feel some relief.
Most of healing is breaking apart and pain. Physically you are tearing up scar tissues, opening muscle structures that have been stuck in the same movement since forever, muscle's that don't activate properly, nerves that have been being pinched or pressured are being released. The body is being re-patterned, the body-map needs to adjust, more aching, things feeling weird, “misaligned”, off center. Which for me currently means hours upon hours daily of drills and exercises. The time and effort it takes of course depends on the severity or how far you've pushed through things that needed healing. Tearing all the supporting muscle around the shoulder usually warrants the stamp of severe injury.
For the first year it felt like my shoulders were swimming in my sockets. Like any move would dislocate them, no stability, constantly feeling like everything is misaligned. The nerve got pinched/hit so often that it radiated pain all the way down my fingers. The inflammation response was on high alert, it took for little for the heat to start radiating. Any misjudged movement would cause my shoulder to “slip” making all my dominant muscles spasm up to stabilize and protect me from further injury. This “slipping” would happen almost weekly at first, monthly now. Holding pads for Krav Maga and doing demos for KM obviously don't help.
My hips follow a similar line, but on the opposite end of the spectrum. So tight that normal hip extension when walking was painful on the right. Poor foot placement when walking, aching knees, aching lower back and consequent neck pains. This is all based on sensory experience, I'm not sure what is going on or even what was really wrong. But it seems like a collection of things that were just fucked. I've worked on my hips since tearing my ACL, which makes 8 years this year. Maybe if I had better tools back then my hip issues would've all been sorted sooner. However I made due with what I had, and that was little. My intent throughout these 8 years never changed. Which lent me the dedication to stretch and use mobility to improve my hips, however much time and effort it takes. My shoulder rehab will span 2 years in a month and a half. And trust me when I say there is plenty of work left due to the poor communication between hips, shoulders and spine. Deep down I knew there must be ways for the body to heal itself, and I refused to accept any other diagnosis or impairment. Building on what I've learned from Littlebeastm, Ido Portal, FRC, Kinstretch and various other people and friends, finally the healing process feels like it picking up. I've always believed in healing through movement, only now I can start seeing (feeling) the light at the end of a very long tunnel.
Healing physically or mentally isn't the slice of heaven it's made out to be. During rehab for my knee I was working in acceptable pain levels all the time. It needs to be trained, it needs to be moved. Instead the easily perpetuated: Just let it rest. Only rest (except for outlier issues) is bullshit. You don't rest on trauma whether it's physical or psychological. Otherwise the body and mind atrophies, it get's weak: It can't handle any load. YOU get weak. Rest is good as recovery from the work (activity) you are doing to heal yourself. But just resting without any work won't heal much (except for extreme cases and very severe injuries).
In psychological aspects this breaking apart is equally reflected. You need to inside and start looking at the pain, tearing apart the darkness. All too often with trauma, anxiety, depression, worry, PTSD, letting go is construed as this easy act of release. "Just let go" or "let go". If it was that easy: we would let go, or let it go. But we don't. Even if you take full ownership of your healing. Extreme ownership even. That doesn't mean you just let everything go. It means you start the process of letting go. However actually letting go is the final act of a long process that followed before. You do what Tim Ferris coined as fear setting. Goal setting but for your fears. That's where most people stall both psychologically and physically: fear of (re)injury/pain/confrontation. We need to start looking at why we fear the things we fear. What drives it. Then we inch closer to it, until we can finally stand being so close to it we can start tearing that fear apart.
Building a space and environment of reflection, easing your way towards your demons, analyzing patterns, uncovering the origins of behavioral patterns, thinking patterns and emotional reactions. Then start pulling threads, how deep does this thread really go? How far into the rabbit hole do I dare to go this time? If you dismiss and give the idea that it's not ok/safe for your partner, friend or yourself to talk about these things: they'll start internalizing that fear. Talking about trauma or the fear of talking about trauma is one of the first steps of facing it. We use others as a soundboard to bring coherence to our own thoughts. This is part of that process of letting go.
Think about how many people that never fully recover from injuries, trauma's, past relationships. People that stay locked in their same habits, their same environment, the same actions and reactions. This looks to be a huge number in the population that never seem to get over past transgressions. That inability to get over certain events is the fuel for most of our escapism. Escaping to a different country, escaping into a different partner/relationship, escaping into substances, escaping into virtual reality. It's an escape of confrontation, escape of hard work (and deep work) and denying yourself the possibility to heal. You bring all this with you to future situations, future relationships, and future activities.
Socrates understood that one can only heal when they're willing to give up what made them sick.
“Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” A lot of people preach and speak about healing (nutrition, exercise, gut, bad habits, all of these come to mind under the umbrella term of healing) but no one wants to (deep) work. Resting (without work), procrastination, avoidance and escapism isn't the stuff of healing. It's a delay of execution as the subconscious patterns keep being reinforced and the work (and fear of work)/confrontation becomes bigger and bigger. Not working on my shoulders and hips isn't an option, that would mean I would never be able to do things I want to do: BJJ, MMA, Swim Run events, parkour, soft acrobatics, long hikes, big lifts, gymnastics, if the gods are willing: Special Forces Selection. Or at the very least SF selection worthy. Not working on my psyche will keep me from doing the things I know I could do and only complicate things in my romantic relationship and all other relationships. This psychological work isn't the motivational quote about your potential, it's about the now.
You don't need all this baggage, pain, fears, issues, projections, etc RIGHT NOW. They impede on the quality of you experiencing the present. I know it's “easy” to say with my minimal amount of years on the plant. But the work doesn't lie. I've healed from something that is still bound in stigma and supposedly you are never supposed to heal from. Which will be apparent once my book is published.
There are more ideas being perpetuated that impair people's beliefs. The demonetization of pain, reminders to avoid pain and discomfort, that you shouldn't do X or Y, that your chosen healing protocol/work won't have any pay off or will actually increase pain. We are tolerating and even promoting weakness of body, spirit and mind. We as a society at large negate and downplay the inborn abilities to deal with trauma on all levels.
Looking at inborn abilities or rather natural mechanisms: super-compensation is a great example. Super-compensation is as follows: when a certain stimuli breaks down the organism (tissue for instance) it regrows stronger. This is what we are after: post traumatic GROWTH. the trauma already happened. And if we never get to baseline (our normalized state: normal functioning) than we drive deeper into depression or post traumatic stress. Or to take an example in the more physical exercise realm: over training, or rather: under recovering. They're all the inability to recover back to baseline and to super-compensate, which is the new set point or baseline: that is growth.
But just like those tissues there needs to be breakdown to grow back stronger. So do we with our trauma's, seeking discomfort, confronting fear and anxiety. That's the recipe for lasting true and genuine change: the super-compensation/the growth, your new set point and baseline. The new normal. A new level of stress tolerance. And so you can inoculate yourself further with gradual exposure. Well documented by great teachers is that enlightenment is a destructive process. The unbecoming, shedding baggage, cutting away, breaking through barriers, discarding old beliefs, giving up some ideas. These are all painful psychologically, the body reacts psychological pain similar to physical pain. Especially when your old beliefs don't match a new “reality”. Don't expect any real bliss in most of the process. Expect hard work, doubts, pain, questioning the return on investment. Questioning your self image, your life, your future, and even why you are alive. All the work you do now is work you won't have to do later. Work that prepares you, work that grows you, work that prevents and mitigates certain things. Psychologically you tore down a filter, access a new dimension of thinking, clear the window of perspective. Your mind expands just as your muscle expands (grows) to compensate for future stress.
Accepting deep work, hard work and consistent work and the pain that comes with it seems to be the only way for long lasting change, post traumatic growth and true healing. All the epiphanies, aha moments, clarity, flow, alignment and pain reduction are the sum of the varying personal processes coming together.