Note: it is almost impossible to get on the Ask Havi list. This person got in by a. being one of my clients or students, b. flattering the hell out of my duck, and c. making life easy on me by being clear about what the question was and what details I could use.
Turns out that the piece I wrote the other week about explosions and my own stuckified post-traumatic stress stuff brought up a lot of memories for people.
It becomes pretty clear as you read the comments that so many of us are coping with similar things.
And man, is there ever an enormous variety of traumatic experiences that can leave us with pain and fear.
Then Renmiri asked:
“How do you even begin to destuckify a bad hurt?”
And that seemed like such a hugely important question — really, it goes straight to the core of everything I teach here — that I had to sneak it into the Ask Havi line-up.
Of course there is way too much to say about this in one post.
So instead of trying to give any sort of complete answer to such a big question, I’m just going to say oh my sweet, I am sorry you have this hard.
And then I’m going to just put out a few thoughts/concepts to start with. Seven of them.
1. You give yourself permission to be hurt.
You just stop and acknowledge what a hard thing this is — and you remind yourself that it’s natural and normal that this would hurt so much.
This is the most important step. And it’s hard.
So if you can’t give this situation permission to just be awful, that’s completely understandable. If you’re not there yet, that’s okay.
Maybe you can start with trying to giving yourself permission to not be able to let it be awful, and see if that starts to loosen things up a little.
2. Acknowledge how big it is.
It’s really easy (and tempting) to go straight into “I should really be over this already” and “why is this still such a big issue?”
Not so helpful.
It is a big deal. It is your big hurt.
So remind yourself:
“Even though I really just want to be over this already, I’m taking a moment to notice how much pain and grief I have from this hurt. No wonder I’m having trouble with this. There is a lot here.”
3. Notice things.
You’re going for mindful, compassionate noticing as opposed to noticing-and-making-judgments or just observing. So …
It’s NOT like this:
Oh look, I’m noticing what a freaking mess I am. How can anyone stand to be around me?
And it’s more like this:
I’m noticing that when I am in a crowded space, I begin to feel anxious because part of me is being reminded of this experience of pain. I’m noticing that I feel more comfortable as soon as I find a quiet place to sit. I’m noticing that I’m talking to myself and people probably think I’m crazy, but hey, a woman with a duck told me to do it so it’s probably fine.
When you notice things about yourself, without judging yourself for being a real live human being who has stucknesses, you can make smart choices.
You can make decisions that serve you.
And if noticing things does trigger judgment, you go ahead and notice that too.
You make a note of it. You remind yourself that it’s a temporary pattern — you’re working on it and you’re allowed to have it — and you go back to the noticing.
4. Create safe spaces.
Part of the recovery process involves creating and re-creating experiences of safety, so your body and mind can relearn what it’s like to have sanctuary.
What “safe space” means is a pretty individual thing, so a lot of what this safety stuff looks like or feels like is going to depend on you.
So, for me … I find safe space through rituals.
I also practice reminding myself that I’m allowed to be terrified and I’m allowed to ask for help.
I give myself permission to (ack!) say no to things that involve me doing something that could challenge my sense of safety.
And I’ll also ask my gentleman friend or my brother to accompany me places when I’m having trouble accessing my sense of safety.
5. What does it need?
That’s one of my favorite questions. It doesn’t always work, but more often than not it’s really helpful.
” What does this situation need? What do I need? What would be helpful here?”
6. Allies and helper mice.
Even when it feels like you’re alone with this, you’re not.
You are cared for by so many people, including all of us.
Asking yourself if you can get better at receiving help and support… is pretty much the most helpful thing you can do for yourself.
7. Patience: still a virtue, even if being virtuous kind of sucks.
Yes, huge cliché, but it’s true. These things can take time.
Reminding yourself of the time thing (and how you need to allow more time to keep healing) is a really big deal.
“I’m allowed to take as much time as I need. Even though the situation now is reminding me of everything that is unresolved from then, I’m still in a better place than I was.
I’m engaging with my hurt and my stuck in a conscious, intentional way. (Look! I’m doing it right now! I’m talking to myself!) And that’s part of what makes now different from then.”
I know this is just a start.
And at the same time, starting is where it all happens.
So I’m going to wish you a good start, if you’re starting. And if you’ve been working on destuckifying a particular hard for what feels like forever …I get it. And I wish for you sanctuary and Useful Insights.
And can we send Renmiri the offer of a virtual-hug?
Renmiri, my wish for you is this: as much love and support and safety as you can comfortably handle, with the knowledge that there is always more available to you when you are ready for it.
Bonus destuckification resource.
I think I mentioned this last week. Tomorrow (Tuesday) Selma and I are teaching our happens-only-twice-a-year-class that doesn’t cost anything.
We call it the Habits Detective teleclass and it’s about making the whole “working on your stuff” thing a leeetle less sucky.
I don’t sell anything or promote anything. It’s just a place to learn. And you’re welcome to sign up if you’d like to hang out with us on the call or to listen to the recording later.
Today’s Comments Zen.
If you have kind thoughts for Renmiri, you are absolutely welcome to leave them here. I know we know this, but just a reminder that we don’t do shoulds here and we don’t throw shoes.
–> Sharing your own story or your thoughts about the practice and experience of destuckifying is cool too. Thanks!