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Two Simple Steps to Stop Bad Coping Patterns!

I used a bullshit subject line on purpose. There are not simple steps in this process.

The conditioning around us says there is a specific formula in order to heal. But, the more we dig, we find those formulas have nothing to do with healing, and everything to do with showing up in the world as a template.

A person checking the boxes and saying, “Am I ok now?” “Do you approve?” “Am I worthy?” “Is this right?”

When your life is inundated with messages about what healing is, and that feels out of reach, you begin to beat yourself up for not doing it right or better. Something I want to say to anyone who has experienced complex trauma (exposure to multiple traumatic events that are often severe, invasive, and interpersonal in nature):

When you experience trauma at a young age, your brain’s growth is interrupted.

Say that at seven years old, your brain waves are flowing along and checking everything off, scanning the environment, getting fed well (brain notes what foods taste good/bad/best), getting hugs (brain notes who gives the best hugs and feels safe), laughing often (brain notes what to explore to get more of that feeling of release).

Then… the parent you love decides they no longer want to be a part of the family, and they leave.

The brain that used to show up at 100% and have tons of space for their experience with food, now has limited focus because it is also trying to interpret the intensity that is called grief, but is living inside an innocent mind who does not know how to process that or why it feels so bad.

All the function that went into experiencing hugs is met with static over being touched and not knowing if a new hug is temporary or will stay. The old brain had no reason to question a hug. But the new function of the brain is to protect you from additional pain. It knows how much that hurt when your new normal came into play, and your parent was gone.

Laughter used to always offer relief. It was a temporary escape from any/everything else (good or bad) to be consumed with utter joy. The pain in your cheeks from laughing so hard was good pain. Now, when laughter comes, the brain reminds you that there is a different reality waiting for you when you are done and that sometimes, maybe it’s best not to laugh so you don’t have to come down.

The brain is like a magnet and a history book. The magnet is gathering any/everything that needs to be processed and being pulled right to the center to be assessed. The history of what shaped its functioning to get a person through really difficult times is always considered.

If your brain could write you an honest letter when you are in unfavorable seasons, it would say:

“As much as you think this is about you, it’s about me. While I exist in you, I am looking for protection and peace. The slightest discomfort you bring to me will never be welcomed. My job is to push any/everything away that causes discomfort. I have taught you how to escape all of these things. Don’t ever stop escaping. It is the ONLY way to make sure you never feel discomfort again.”

The brain believes this. Just like some of our deep-in-denial-enabler relatives who simplify and do not see the bigger picture or think of the long-term effects of reality being denied.

Don’t forget we are talking about a seven year old (or five year old, or nine year old, or 32 almost 33 year old).

We are talking about a human who is hard-wired to move away from discomfort. And we are talking about a tender heart whose life was changed overnight with new information that no brain could manage.

So, the brain goes haywire looking for comfort. And, we overshoot, and we go too far, and we can’t find our way back to center, and we don’t remember where center is.

Center is where the heart and mind are safe together. It was the laughter, the hugs, the great meal.

And sometimes, we use coping patterns in our best attempts to get there.

And sometimes, those coping patterns are from a very long time ago, when nothing else helped you escape.

And when that coping comes back, it does not take away your growth.

And it does not resemble you falling back.

It is your reminder, that there is and was a lot of hurt that happened and you have had much more time coping in survival mode, than living a life where you give yourself permission to not fit that lame and empty template that everyone calls “healing.”

I do not believe there are two steps back in healing. I believe there are forces of pain trying to work its way out of our mind and body, and sometimes their exit is so loud, and their memories are so strong, we are desperate to get a break from them.

I hope you are kind to yourself after using a coping pattern,

And, I hope you are able to see what lies beneath that behavior.

And, when you see that part of you yelling for help, you trust your voice to give them different ways to find relief.

And, on your way there, I hope you never believe that your healing has stopped or paused, because everything was too much for a moment.

To the aching part whose parent left, or experienced abuse, or was never enough, or lived in a home that was never home, or all of these…. Healing complex trauma is complex. Craving, needing, wanting comfort in the midst of these memories is normal.

The reality is there are consequences for the coping patterns we choose. And, I think sometimes we are trying to shame our way to health because of the hidden ways we cope.

But, just for a moment, as you read this, trust and believe you are surrounded by thousands of people who are also reading this and thinking specifically of the thing they have kept hidden because they assumed if others knew it would mean they were not healed.

There is no easy solution.

And, I wish there were words that I could tell you that brought comfort to the discomfort, where coping was not as needed, but just for now, trust you are normal. Your healing process isn’t paused.

And, you don’t ever have to believe someone else’s view of what you being healed looks like, because sometimes your healing is what other people need hidden so they do not have to think about their secrets.

Sending you compassion for those hard days that feel like you made the wrong choice.

I’m so glad you are here!
Nate

***In our online group, I use my pendulum theories often and share different ways to get back to center. There are many approaches. We are currently in our final session on shame. We will open spots for new members at the end of the month. If you would like to join, you must have a spot on the waitlist.

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