Healing happens in different ways and at different rates. The intensity of the trauma we face may determine the length it will take to heal an emotional wound. And recovery isn’t linear, which can make it difficult to see all the progress we’ve made. We will fluctuate between feeling better and worse as our healing journey progresses.
The majority of us are not trained on how to heal effectively when necessary. Healing necessitates understanding the process to move through the process, even if there is no handbook or checklist on how to go about it. It requires us to step up, hone in, and occasionally fight through our inner suffering and emotions so we can reach the other side.
A hard and heavy truth that we must accept is this: We have no control over the challenges that life brings our way. We all suffer, and we are all up against things we can’t control. The only way to proceed is to take care of ourselves each and every day. As we experience new emotional knowledge, we must adapt and evolve. This proves that recovery truly is as unique as the person seeking it.
So how can we determine where we are in our healing process? These subtle signs can help us take stock of how far we’ve come and give us the strength to keep going:
- You acknowledge your triggers rather than work to dodge them
Your triggers are valid and so are the emotions that accompany them. Healing is about managing your emotional and physical responses to triggers rather than controlling them. You may not be able to control all of your emotions, but you can control your actions.
- You alter your language
A technique for developing self-awareness is to challenge unfavorable thoughts. Language changes as you get deeper into the healing process, and the desire to even speak that language also changes. Even though it can be difficult, improving the dialogue you have with yourself is crucial to your healing.
- You avoid self-blaming
When things go wrong, you no longer blame yourself or fall into shame or defensiveness. You keep note of your emotions and respond to them with compassion. You can put in your best efforts and still witness things getting worse, which is unsettling to accept. The sooner you come to terms with this, the better equipped you will be to deal with these circumstances.
- You notice the benefits of forgiveness
This goes hand-in hand-with my previous point. Understanding the importance of forgiving ourselves as well as our shortcomings may provide us with much-needed insight into the forgiveness that we can also grant to others. It may take a substantial amount of time and work, but you’ll realize that you've made progress in your healing process once you understand that forgiving someone doesn't imply you have to accept them back into your life. You are one step closer to achieving this when you realize that the person bearing these heavy burdens is not the one who wounded you. To forgive yourself/others is to free yourself.
- You accept the rollercoaster ride
You recognize that you can experience consecutive victories, followed by moments when you felt yourself regressing somewhat. Five steps forward, one step back, or five steps forward, six steps back. Healing is not a linear process, as anyone who has gone through any type of healing journey will attest. You know you are healing when you accept that your progress is not constituted by every ounce of the work you put in.
- You develop a sense of hope:
You cease having doubts about any chance that comes your way. You start to see life for what it truly is — an array of possibilities. You will discover that you are no longer afraid to take a chance when you begin to realize that things can only get better from where they are right now.
Life is not an easy trip. There are incredible days that brighten our lives and terrible days that affect our lives forever. Our objective shouldn’t be to never experience another unpleasant period. Those cannot be avoided. But we may learn to accept and manage those terrible times, as well as make peace with them.
You deserve to honor yourself for taking the first step. The path to healing can feel isolating at times, so please don't be afraid to seek help or support when you need it.