Updated: Nov 23, 2021
Hello friends! I'm back again for part 2 of my new Excavating Your Essence series.
I hope you've taken time and space to explore what was discussed previously on the distinctions between identity and experience.
I think now is a good time to take a closer look at "recovery", as I've witnessed this pedestal that it often sits upon that can seem so far out of reach, even in the midst of so many successes. I myself delayed my use of the word, because it still felt too "perfect" than reality.
In my previous post, I offered these particular questions for reflection:
What does recovery look like to you?
What does it feel like to be recovered?
I hope these are two considerations you have already explored, because I will offer here my own assessment.
Recovery is not defined or shaped by the complete absence of symptoms or even fatigue. We are still human, and perfection is not the standard to achieve. Recovery is the return to self and the empowered feeling of knowing you can stay afloat on any seas. It is an unshakable love and acceptance of self. It is living a life free of the past limitations and being aligned in your true self's purpose and values. It's knowing beneficial separation of the external (such as healthy boundaries and relationships) and a deep wholeness contained in the internal (where you are liberated from the desire to "control" or "fix" things to achieve inner peace). It is the courage, even if there is fear.
It doesn't necessarily mean the total absence of fear. It's our response to fear that shifts.
The human experience and our range of emotions are both diverse and complex. There is purpose and teaching contained within every feeling. However, in limbic system impairment, the mechanism that declares friend from foe (the amygdala) has malfunctioned or gotten stuck. The initial experience or series of experiences may have created an appropriate response from the brain, but perhaps there was an absence of the tools needed at the time to process it all and reestablish safety in the body—so it is stuck.
Cognitive distortions can arise that make the world seem black and white, good vs. bad, resulting in all or nothing thinking that then filters our experiences and reshapes perspective. We may develop a lens of fear that blocks out more conscious discernment. The brain's executive functions may be limited in these assessments, as it becomes more governed by the limbic system's emotional awareness and past imprinting. Feelings can then exclusively lead the experience without the cortex assessing through its more informed or wider lens.
When I started this journey, my idea of recovery was focused solely on the absence of symptoms and conditions. And yet, when I achieved that, I still saw more work to be done in the patterns and belief systems—I hadn't yet reached my desired perspective.
Recovery, to me, is not about the symptoms at all, but requires a core level shift in belief.
The belief in self and knowing you are not powerless—no matter what.
I lost that and initially felt it was the symptoms that took it away, but through exploring the layers, I saw it ran much deeper than that.
This journey has been more about establishing that sense of self than it has been about focusing on or "fixing" symptoms or conditions—in fact, it can be counterproductive to hold the focus there.
It's about the shedding of coping behaviors and systems created out of survival.
The emotional layers, the deeply rooted belief systems that are part of the fuel to the symptoms—that's where the power is and that's where the power can be reclaimed.
Leaving behind the mindset that you're simply a victim of your experiences, and instead both recognizing and stepping into your ability to create experiences that reshape your life.
It's the return to self and shedding of layers that create an illusion of protection, and establishing that basis of safety and home from within.
This inner shift from surviving to thriving is what then reflects outward into the world.
I would love to know if any of this resonates for you or has opened any doors in your current retraining approach. Please let me know in the comments. 💗
Until next time!
If you're interested in connecting more regularly, I have a blog on Brain Gardening called Seeds of Hope where I share more insights from my journey to wellness and wholeness, a weekly email list, as well as an upcoming neuroplasticity program.
Alina Bachmann is a multi-disciplinary artist growth mindset coach, and creator of Brain Gardening™, a neuroplasticity resource inspired by her own healing journey. After over 20 years of chronic illness stemming from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), natural disasters, chemical injury, and toxic stress as an adult, Alina found wellness and wholeness through brain retraining—or brain gardening as she prefers to call it. She now uses her personal story of recovery and professional background as an informational designer to support others on their healing journeys through Brain Gardening™. In addition, Alina is attuned to Reiki Level II and certified from the Integrative Sound and Music Institute. Products and services by Brain Gardening™ are rooted in science and cultivated through the arts. Research materials are presented from a designer lens using simple language, relatable visuals, and interactive tools. The upcoming Brain Gardening™ program combines neuroscience with creative expression, somatics, ecotherapy, and the healing arts for an integrative approach to wellness. Subscribe to the mailing list for more tips or join the program waitlist at braingardening.com.