Friday, January 23, 2009

PTSD Healing: 6 Ways to Solidify Your Commitment to Heal

It’s one thing to walk around thinking you want to heal, and telling yourself and your loved ones that you do. But it’s another thing entirely to commit to what it takes to be healed. In order to support your healing intention you must make the commitment to act. In order to support that commitment it helps to have some structure in place. Today, 6 things you can do to solidify your commitment:

1 – Carefully define your healing goal. I really do love Nick Best’s ‘Believe You Will Succeed’ outline for achieving a goal. If you haven’t taken a look at it yet, find some time to work it through. Healing is just like any other goal: it helps to have a definitive plan. Also, it’s important to assess what would get in the way of that plan – and then get rid of those things! Nick’s outline is a step-by-step guide to planning your entire healing journey, both in terms of your time and your mind.

2 – Create a timeline. Let’s be serious, healing isn’t something that happens over night. After struggling to heal for so long, I finally gave myself one last year: By my 40th birthday I wanted to be free of this stuff. (I made it, just under the wire!) Choose a timeframe that works for you. Give yourself a lot of room – but not too much! One or two years of the really hard, deep work should set you up for great results. Choose a big event, or some quiet date to work toward. Get your subconscious into the game by developing the idea that you will be PTSD-free by that point. When we begin to imagine we begin to heal. If we see the end and know where we’re going, that helps us chart our course and our minds shape the idea of success.

3 – Prioritize your healing process. The whole idea of healing can seem overwhelming. Don’t let yourself get distracted by this! Break down the phases so that the journey is manageable. Make a list of the top five healing acts you want to try, and then approach them one by one. My list looked like this: a) educate myself about PTSD, b) develop the ability to tell the story, c) reach out to other survivors, d) construct my post-trauma identity, e) find a hypnotherapist.

4 – Set a schedule. When you know your ultimate timeframe it’s easier to break down time into increments, and from there to break down the healing process into manageable chunks. We can’t do everything all at once, so set yourself a schedule that will guide your way. Give yourself a task each month, each week, or even each day. Developing a healing habit is important; setting a schedule ensures you find time for all aspects of this important journey.

5 – Buddy up! As PTSD experiencers we’ve been isolated long enough. For your healing journey, get a partner to support you along your quest. This can be anyone, but it should be someone you feel you can trust, and who will honestly help you maintain your commitment. (Mine was my mother because she was endlessly supportive, unfailingly resourceful, empathetic, compassionate and never got frustrated or angry no matter how many times I banged my head against the wall!) Tell this partner your plan. Share with them the timeline, your priorities, and the schedule. It helps to be able to talk these things out. Things sound differently in the spoken word than in our mind, and hearing things aloud can bring us to new thoughts, ideas and understanding. Plus, your buddy may have helpful ideas. Knowing that someone is standing beside us and expects us to follow through with our plans gives us even more motivation to do so.

6 – Reward yourself. Remember when you were a kid and you were given a gold star for good behavior or a good math or spelling test? Newsflash: Your grown up self likes to be rewarded, too. For every step in your healing process, reward yourself for the achievement. Make a list of some things you want to do for yourself. This may be as simple as a day alone, away from your responsibilities. Or, it can be the purchase of some item you’ve been putting off. Healing is tough work; when we reach milestones we should give ourselves something special. When we know we’re working toward a gratification, we’re more committed and motivated to succeed.

One more thought, just for good measure: Give yourself some room. While it’s important to plan, commit, act, and follow through, it’s also important not to become militant, rigid, obsessed or fanatical. Healing should be a return to grace, a recapturing of living life in flow and ease. If we force the healing process into a narrow chute and try to stuff ourselves through it there’s no way we can achieve the ultimate goal. There will be pitfalls and setbacks. Don’t beat yourself up over them! The surest way to kill your commitment is to feel abused by it. Healing is like the ebb and flow of the tide; it has a rhythm. Know that you’re on the path to wellness and have faith in yourself that you will get there.

(photo: Isaac B2)

1 comment:

Destress Yourself said...

Great post and great advice Michele.

Desire and a plan are very important in order to heal.