Dear Candy - How to stay motivated to go the distance
Today's question: Why is it that some people recover from limbic system impairment in 10 months, and others take many years? I’m finishing my year three and while there was definitely some improvement, I still have most of the original it’s and pops. How do we not get discouraged?
That is a really good question and unfortunately is one that does not have a clear, simple, or easy answer. Although I don't think anybody can say for 100% certainty why it takes some longer to recover than others, I believe there are several factors that influence rate of recovery.
Some people have many layers to their limbic system impairment, meaning that it takes longer to get through all of those layers, thus lengthening recovery time. Stressors and stress levels play a major role in the length of recovery as well. The more stressed we are and the more stressors we have in our lives, the harder it is to prune away those old pathways and make progress. If this is the case for you, do your best to minimize stressors (next week's blog will be about that).
Another factor that significantly influences the rate of the recovery is our ability to catch our negative thoughts and elevate our emotional states. When I used to coach for DNRS, this was the number one roadblock to recovery for the majority of participants who were seeing slow progress. Cultivate your curious observer, get familiar with your unhelpful thoughts & emotions, stop justifying them (if that is happening), and practice elevating your emotions (or acting as-if until you start to feel it). Use your emotional state as a baseline indicator of where you are operating and if you're not feeling elevated, do things to move toward a more elevated state as much as you possibly can throughout each day. If you already know what your negative thoughts are, then make a commitment to yourself not to entertain them. When they come up, label them (as false thinking, or "just my limbic system"), and choose not to believe everything you think. Then redirect your attention to something more constructive or helpful. Remember that consistency and repetition are keys to change, so doing this regularly throughout the day is imperative. If you struggle with this, seek out a coach to help you.
Also have a look at whether there are any downsides to recovery. This may seem like an odd question to some, but I have found that sometimes when people reflect on this they see pieces that might be keeping them stuck. For example, the uncertainty of what their lives will be like (after having dealt with issues for so long). The unknown is scary and can prevent progress. Other people go through an identity crisis of sorts, i.e. "I don't know who I am without this." The beautiful gift of this process is we get to uncover and create who we are in the world and we emerge out of illness and into recovery. We don't have to have it all figured out and we can treat it as an adventure to discover our true essence and how we want to be in the world. Also, check if there is a concern that you will lose funding or benefits or help before you are ready to take on more in your life. All of these pieces can also play a role in our rate of recovery. Simply by bringing them to the surface, or to conscious awareness, can help to loosen their grip over us.
How to stay encouraged/motivated
As I said in my talk, connecting with your "why" is key to keeping your motivation up. Why are you wanting to recovery? What will that mean for you, for your loved ones, for your life? How will you know when you get there? What will be different? Knowing why you are working so hard to reclaim your wellbeing and reminding yourself of this regularly can help keep you on track. Consider posting your "why" somewhere in your house or car, where you will see it daily and stay connected to it.
Also, when we struggle to do the things that are good for us, think about who else you are doing this for. On days when I would not feel like doing my rewiring or resilience practices, I would remember that I'm not just doing this for me. I'm doing it to be a better mom to my son. Often, that would be enough to get me over the hump of resistance and back into my practices.
Recruit others to help encourage and motivate you. Make sure you are writing down the changes you notice, no matter how small, and the successes you've had. Otherwise the brain will filter them out and we may not recognize how far we've already actually come.
Change things up. If part of the struggle is doing the same things in the same ways over and over and over again, look at how you can freshen it up. Use different elevated emotional states, change up your routines, look at what you enjoy the most or resist the least and bring more of that into your daily life. This doesn't mean you have to go about changing everything all at once, but look at small ways of bringing more novelty, enjoyment or pleasure in.
And finally, know that slumps are generally a part of the process. Rarely is recovery a linear process of improvement, but rather there are ups and downs, and people plateau at times. This is normal and if you are in a plateau, again look at changing things up or seek out support to help you troubleshoot what's keeping you from moving forward.
Until next time!
Next Monday: Tips for Managing Stress
If you have a question, please email me at email@example.com
Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. Her modalities include coaching, therapy, Reiki and the Safe & Sound Protocol. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com