I can barely swim so don’t take this literally, that is for sure! I’ve been impressed lately by both clients and friends doing the very hard work of personal deep dives.
The people that have touched my life the most in wounding ways have been unable or unwilling to do those dives.
So, what is it?
What I am referencing is those times in life when we do a much more in-depth self-examination then at other times. When we are willing to recall painful events from earlier in our life - events that we have tried to minimize or simply not think about. It means looking at old painful memories in order to see them differently, and often more painfully. (A poor analogy but, way worse than keeping your eyes open during a scary gory movie.)
Why in the world would people do this?
Usually this happens only because the pain or dysfunction of current living has reached an unbearable or untenable level and we will face big loss if we don’t do this work. Once in a while people are just ready enough for significant change that they muster the courage.
From my therapist days, this was often when I would see people reach out for an appointment. Truly, the people who had the biggest breakthroughs were often the people who had indeed reached some kind of crisis point and were ready to do the scary dive.
So, what helps?
1. Surround yourself with support. Not everyone in your life will agree with you doing this level of self-reflection. Probably because they haven’t and won’t. Find the people who have that will love you and respect your boundaries through that season.
2. Include a professional who does this kind of work. Not all therapists can or will do this. Some are working under insurance restrictions only able to offer 3 sessions (called brief therapy).
3. Get an inspiring new journal. This is not me being all girly. There are many different styles for getting clarity but by far, the one I have observed and done personally that is most reliably effective is journaling. Any rules you have in your mind about what journaling is supposed to be need to go. Just be raw - write to whomever you like or just write. It helps bring clarity.
4. Notice without judging. You can use this sh** on anything. This is a powerful way to get clarity. As soon as we start judging either our self or someone else something shifts. Our self protection kicks in and we move to blaming or minimizing. Notice first, feel it raw and separate that from what needs to happen next.
5. Draw your boundary lines. Invariably after this kind of work there are shifts in key relationships. Some of this is because the work we do gives us specific awareness of unhealthy patterns with specific people that contributed directly to our pain. Some of it is simply that in our growth and healing we see that we need better boundaries. This can mean being more open to intimacy in healthy relationships. It can mean more distance or limits to unhealthy relationships.
If you are on a deep dive now, or can feel the need for one coming, I applaud you. The benefits include getting you back and enjoying your close relationships at an entirely different level.
What will you use to remind yourself to keep going when it gets tough part way?
Who can be your best ally in this critical work?
Until next week,
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Posted on Thu, December 15, 2016
by Marilyn Orr filed under