There are ups and downs to retraining much like there are ups and downs as we journey through life. There is a tendency among brain retrainers to over-react when having a down dip. We can think that our progress is lost, that we are going backwards, or that we are never going to get better. It is easy to slip into this mindset when the old pathways in the brain become more dominant again, because that is what it feels like. And often we hold a belief that if we are actively engaging in the tools to retrain, things should go smoothly. There can be a tendency to blame ourselves when they don't. Unfortunately things always going smoothly is not how life generally works. There is a season for everything. The flowers don't bloom all year, the trees don't have leaves all the time. There are times for outward expression and times to go inward. There are times of excess energy and times where we need to restore. There are times of ease and times of effort. Such is the nature of life. If we can understand and accept this, it makes the ups and downs of retraining a little easier to navigate. And when we stop resisting where we are, we often find that we move through it faster. Acceptance changes our neurochemistry and nervous system, and frees us up to make progress. Remember, what we resist persists and what we focus on is what we grow.
Reflect for a moment on your tendencies when you have a down dip. What are the thoughts/stories that go through your mind? What do you focus on? Do you pressure yourself to get out of it and come to doing the tools/practices from a place of stress? Do you beat yourself up for having the dip? It is good to take note of your tendencies, and then make a decision around what you can do differently that will be more supportive of you and your journey. Let's start to accept what is happening, focus more on where we want to go (instead of where we are now) and the things that are going to help us get there.
As I have said before, recovery is about having the flexibility to navigate the ups and downs, both in our brains and in our nervous systems. It is about the ability to change our states, to adapt and go in and out of the stress response as needed and as appropriate given what is happening in our lives. This flexibility starts by building the skill to pull ourselves out of the stress/limbic response when we find ourselves there. By doing this repeatedly we build our capacity to do so. It becomes easier to change states. Then we start to build our capacity to sustain the elevated, regulated states that support our wellbeing. And if life takes us out of that temporarily (which it likely will), then we catch it and bring ourselves back. This level of resilience helps us to navigate life with more ease & grace. We begin to understand that circumstances do not need to dictate our overall wellbeing and that while we may not have control over the down dips or situations that life sometimes throws our way, we do have control over how we think, feel, and respond to them. This has a huge impact on how they affect us as well as how long they will last. Start to relate to down dips as just one small chapter in a much bigger story, and keep your eye on the overall picture.
On a side note, it was Canadian Thanksgiving last Monday. This time of year, I like to reflect on what I am grateful for and to take some time to appreciate the blessings in my life. I have many things this year on my gratitude list, and one of them is this community. Thank you to Ashley for having the vision to set this up and to all the contributors who offer (and have offered) wisdom and support to those on their journey toward wellbeing. I am grateful for the opportunity to share and contribute, and greatly enjoy answering your questions. Thank you for trusting me with your questions and for reading my contributions for the last two years. I look forward to more questions & posts!
Until next time!
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 has a background in nervous system regulation, trauma, grief & loss, mindfulness, somatic therapy, & positive psychology. She taught the DNRS in-person program for 5 years, has over a decade of experience coaching brain re-trainers & provides mentorship to other coaches. Candy works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com