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A question came in from a member of my group coaching program recently.
It’s a question that I often hear as a life coach, and I want to address it fully.
This is what they said:
“Right now, I feel like I need to comfort myself 20-30 hours a day. Healing is taking so much of my day.
I feel like I’m constantly working on myself in various ways to prevent myself from getting triggered. The constant work I’m doing varies from comforting my inner child, watching relevant videos, looking through notes from our calls to find the tool that will work for my needs for that day, releasing emotions, journaling, meditating, reading self-help books, taking long baths, doing yoga, doing guided meditations—anything to try to help me stay in a good-feeling place.
While I recognize the progress I’ve made, especially the fact that I don’t wait until I’m completely overwhelmed to do self-care anymore, I still need to do a ton of preventative maintenance.
Does the baseline of happiness/gratitude increase, or is this really it?
Does this get any easier and become less time-consuming? Right now, the amount of work I have to do to keep up is a little discouraging to me.”
As much as there are those in my industry who want to sell you quick fixes, it’s imperative to accept that the nature of long-lasting, sustainable healing and transformation is slow. Although breakthrough epiphany moments can happen instantaneously, if we’re not doing consistent work to keep them in place, like a rubber band, we’re going to snap back to the way that we were before.
Long-term, sustainable inner transformation requires consistently putting in work—every. single. day.
Let’s say you’re 35 and you’ve been doing transformational work for about five years consistently. While that may seem like a long time, it’s actually only 14 percent of your life. You had 30 years of pattern formation before starting the process of reprogramming.
In those formative years, you were strengthening the myelin sheath of the neural pathways of those old ways of thinking every day. This process is like adding insulation to those thought patterns. So, when a brain impulse goes off in your brain, it’s going to take the most well-trodden pathway because it’s the most insulated.
You can do things to speed up the process of myelin sheath formation (be in the sun every day, take your vitamins, get good rest), but no matter what, it takes a long time to lay and insulate new pathways.
When you’re doing transformational work, you’re re-hardwiring the entire neural network that you’ve formed over decades. It is probably a little bit unrealistic to think that we can re-hardwire it in less than 15 percent of the time it took to hardwire.
It won’t take as long to re-hardwire, but it does take quite a long time.
Additionally, when we think about it from the perspective of Parts Work, it is likely an exiled part of the self (a part of the self that carries the wound of feeling unworthy, unlovable, or like it doesn’t belong) that is the source of our ongoing upset. This part needs to know that we will consistently show up for it and give it our unconditional love no matter what.
So when we have these moments thinking, “Ughhh, why haven’t I made more progress?! Why do I still have this wound coming up?” we are telling that part that its lovability is contingent upon how it’s being (which is the original source of the wound).
We’re reopening that wound every time we say, “Why is this part still hanging around? I’m so frustrated that it’s still here.”
Click here for a video of me explaining a vulnerable example of this from my own life:
These exiled parts need to know that we’re going to show up for them consistently. Our exiled parts are most likely under the age of 15, and a lot of them are even under the age of 8. They come from the perspective of a child, a child who hasn’t been given good reasons to trust. And it probably takes a lot for that child part, that wounded part of the self, to be able to trust. Some parts may take years of consistent effort to be able to trust.
I know that that can be disconcerting for some because we want quick fixes, and we live in a society that tells us that we should be able to have quick fixes. And that’s part of the problem. So many of us have turned to quick fixes for so many years and those quick fixes actually just exacerbated the problem.
So now, when we actually get sincere and serious about doing the work, we have to grieve the idea that quick fixes exist. And for some of us, that grieving process might take a long time.
Think about it like a child whose parent walked out on the family and was gone for decades and then came back and all of a sudden says, “Oh hey, now I care about you. Now I’m in your life.” It might take years for that child to trust that that love is going to be consistent.
It’s the same with our parts. The more impatient we get with those parts, the less those parts trust that we’re going to show up for them consistently. So we need to do our best to release expectations about how long it will take to heal an exiled part and reintegrate it back into the system. And this takes a ton of patience.
Even the people I know who have been doing this work for decades still discover wounded parts that need their love. I do fully believe—with all of my being—that it is possible to unburden all of the parts of ourselves and bring all of our exiled parts back into wholeness. We can reintegrate all parts and live from self-energy (meaning being unblended with any wounded part) 90 percent of the time or more.
That, in my mind, is the goal, but it takes consistent effort.
It’s also important to recognize that it’s tough for us to be able to see our own progress. It’s like the horrible analogy of the frog boiling in water where the temperature gets incrementally hotter until it’s boiling and the frog doesn’t notice.
So if you’re frustrated with yourself—wondering why your healing journey is taking so long—just know that it’s been so gradual and incremental that you haven’t noticed how much you have transformed.
I promise you that if you’ve been putting in consistent work, you have been transforming. And remember that sometimes it looks like it’s getting worse before it’s getting better.
A mentor of mine, Kyle Cease, uses this analogy:
“What happens when you stick a hose to the bottom of a fish tank that hasn’t been cleaned in a long time? All the gunk comes up to the surface. And it looks 10 times dirtier than it did before you started cleaning it, but actually, it’s getting cleaner.”
So sometimes, these parts of ourselves get a lot louder before they’re able to heal and reintegrate because we’ve suppressed and silenced them for so long.
Really think about it.
Think about a part of yourself that has been compartmentalized for decades. How does that part feel? Once it finally comes out, once it finally is allowed to be seen and heard, it’s going to have so much to say! It’s going to want to scream. It’s going to want to be upset. It’s going to need so much excessive love and nurturing in order to feel loved again.
That process sometimes takes a lot longer than we want it to or think it should. And when we’re in Self Energy (the aspect of ourselves that transcends and includes all parts), we can see that we’re not that part. Instead, it’s a part that needs our love. Just like a child who is upset every single day, it still needs our love.
So remember, you do not have to identify with your parts. If you still have wounded parts that have been sticking around for years, those parts aren’t you. They are a being who is in your awareness—who is wanting and needing your love. You are the giver of love. You are the loving awareness. You are the witness.
It’s important not to allow our ego to derive validation from how far we perceive ourselves to be on our transformational journey. True transformation is not being attached to how we feel in any given moment or what it looks like.
True transformation is recognizing that we are not our internal state. So it doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy every single day. The weather is not us. We are witnesses to the weather. The weather does not dictate who we get to be. The work is in un-blending from our parts and allowing for these parts of ourselves to be as they are, and patiently and consistently nurturing and loving them until they finally feel safe enough.
When we say, “I’ve loved you for two years now, and you’re still not healed,” that reinforces the idea in the wounded part’s mind that our love is conditional, and it sets us back. So we really have to be committed to our transformation, be committed to our healing, and simultaneously be unattached to what it looks like any given day, or week, or month, or year. We have to be unattached to how long it’s taking.
Remember: there’s nowhere to get to. The goal of willingness is not to feel better; it is to learn to feel better, be better at feeling, show up with more presence and love for whatever internal experiences are arising, and love whatever is arising. It’s not about forcing and manipulating our internal state to be or look a certain way. That’s the real inner-work muscle building.
Some people have less heavy lifting to do. Those of us who have a really intense curriculum of transformational work in this life are those who get to learn and expand a lot; we really get to strengthen those muscles of transformation.
If you’re feeling frustrated by how long your transformational journey is taking, take a moment to ask yourself, “How is this happening for me? How am I getting stronger? What am I learning?”
It’s like learning a whole new language. It does require immersion. It requires practicing it every day, and when we stop practicing it, we lose it.
I really acknowledge all of you out there who have been at this for so long and have been putting so much effort in. You’re doing a great job. And I’m sorry that it takes so much effort. I get it—it does for me too.