Getting Worse Before It Gets Better

I'm coming to talk this morning about a question that a lot of my emails have been containing in the last week or so, and I wanted to kind of take an aggregate of everyone's questions and try to find a way to develop a theme so that I could make a post. Two themes are threading through and I want to address both of them and then we'll discuss it a little bit more. Watch the video, or keep reading to dig in with me.

The first is: I'm struggling to embrace this process because if it's all about journaling, that doesn't seem real enough for me. That doesn't seem helpful enough for me. That's like a crazy pie in the sky kind of notion that you know: Oh, if I keep a journal am I just going to feel better? I want to discuss that, what journaling really is and what this whole concept really is.

The second thing is: so I'm sitting here in all of my crap thinking about my miserable stuff, journaling about the things that make me unhappy, and now I feel horrible all day. What's going to happen to me and how is that possibly functional?

Let's talk about those two things. The first thing I want to talk about is the concept of: is this healing through journaling? You know Nicole, what are you asking me to do? You're asking me to keep a journal and that's going to be the end all be all of the healing of my world? Let's talk about what I'm really discussing here in terms of healing your chronic pain.

You live in a body. You live in a body that houses you and you live in a mind-body system which means there's no way for your body to feel anything without your mind. If you cut your head off, you're not going to have pain in your hand. When we live in this closed system of energy and we only have a finite amount of energy we can use each day; some days we have more, some days we have less, but we're eventually going to run out of it and we're going to need to sleep and then wake up to a new day.

You have stresses in your life, you have resentments left over from your childhood or your marriage or your relationship with your ex-boss, whatever it is, you have a personality that might lead you to always want to be right or perfect or good or have someone approve of you. You're always criticizing yourself, you can't let yourself off the hook. These things contribute to your mind-body system every day. They provide a structure that you're going to work with in order to be who you are and function in your day to day life.

You can't carry all of that energy and stress and not have a place for it to go. It's just literally impossible. That's why people have nervous breakdowns in the most acute sense. But that's also why people get headaches, and that's why people get stomachaches, and that's why people get many chronic conditions that can go as far as completely debilitating you to a wheelchair or to being on disability. We cannot house all of that anxious, negative energy in this one closed mind-body system. It needs a vent. It needs a place for it to go.

When I say that I want you to embrace a journaling practice, what I'm trying to explain is that this is a an easy, free, simple way if you learn the process by which I teach people to journal, to give a vent, a steam valve, to this incredibly stressful, packed-in system that is making you sick.

Now let's talk a little bit more about what I mean when I say that we need to embrace a different way to look at this system. You're entire life, you have understood that you have a body and that you need to keep it healthy in certain ways. People who go to therapists even now today are considered to be doing above and beyond what they might need to do. Oh, you know, that might be nice, but I don't really need that unless of course I've completely broken down and can't function in my life.

Therapy or talking or connecting with other people, it's sort of seen as a luxury. It's seen as more. But you definitely have to take your vitamins and you definitely have to go to your checkup every year, and you definitely have to get your mammogram. We do need to do all these things for our physical body, but we fail to see that if we want to be healthy people and not suffering from all sorts of chronic pain and conditions, really the only way to embrace that fully is to see that our mind and the things we think and the things that dictate what we feel are as important, maybe not more important, but as important as anything we consider physical in tending to our body.

If I'm going to say that you need a steam valve to get rid of these negative feelings that you carry whether you like them or not, and that the journaling practice I propose is an effective way to do that, then I’m saying it is an integral part of taking care of your body that gives this closed system a place for these feelings to go. I don't want you to think of it as “oh well, she's suggesting that there's this hippy-dippy holistic approach that I can journal and feel better.” You need this.

You never have to share it with anyone, you can delete it as soon as you write it out. You are doing a physical thing. You are opening up that energy valve, letting out that negative energy, and creating a space within yourself for the positive energy to give you more peace and presence every day.

Try not to think of it as something in addition to what you might do for your body, this is something very concrete that you can do, and should do, and will do for your body if you want to feel better. If this happens to be the first post of mine that you're reading, take a look at the Healing Yourself posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.) You'll understand what I mean by this journaling process.

That's the first thing. Second question I want to answer is one about: Okay Nicole, I get it; this journaling is absolutely imperative for me to have a healthy mind-body system, a healthy body, not have headaches and backaches and neck pain and irritable bowel and running to the bathroom every five minutes, and fibromyalgia and migraines that keep me home from work. Okay, so that's one way that I can heal myself Nicole, but I feel like shit. I'm journaling and I'm letting the stuff out and now I'm just sitting in it and I feel terrible, and I'm moody, and I'm crying.

Here's what I have to say about that: I know you are, I totally get it, I have been there. It gets hard before it gets better. This is super hard work and you have to have some empathy and compassion for yourself. You are doing something so differently than you've ever done it and yeah, sometimes it's going to feel bad. But if you stick with it, it has the most miraculous results.

The reason I'm hesitating right now is I've just had like ten clients pop into my head who I think: Wow, I remember all those days that they came to me and they said: "I just can't do this one more day. This is just so frustrating, it's so annoying. I feel like I'm getting nowhere." And it's just the beauty and the amazing thing about the following week or the following month, everybody's got a different journey, hearing them say: "You know, it is just amazing. This is crazy, Nicole, but I haven't had a headache in like three days." I'm like: "Yeah, it's crazy." We laugh.

It takes a little while. Our brains have very well-tread neuropathways that take them to certain reactions. You have something happen to you, and then you react in a certain way. If your migraines are a deep-seated reaction to repressed anger at your family, at your parents, at your boss, at yourself, that's going to take a little while. We're unearthing and we're excavating and we're giving a steam valve to those feelings, so it's going to take a little while.

Embrace yourself when you're feeling shitty. Say: "Wow, this is exactly how it's supposed to happen." You know I had a friend once who had horrible acne when he was in high school and he had to take this medication for his acne. The doctor said: "Your acne's going to get worse before it gets better, but then it's going to go away and you're not going to have any permanent scaring." I remember when it got worse and he was just beyond miserable because he hated the feeling and the look of his acne, but because it was expected, he was like: "Oh, okay, well you know this sucks, but it's going to get worse before it gets better." Then it cleared up, and now he has no scaring.

This is what I'm saying to you: please, please, don't give up and don't be so forsaken if it feels hard because I promise you, I am a living example, my clients are living examples, many members of my family and friends are living examples that if you stick with this, if you read what you need to read in terms of understanding the process of journaling and the process of embracing this as an integral part of your health and you do the work each day like the brave warrior that you are, you can and will be better. I stand here always as your great support and sending you much love.