Who We Were vs. Who We Became

asking for help coming home coping mechanisms remembering trauma May 02, 2023

Aren’t humans funny sometimes? We pride ourselves on being self-sufficient, strong, and capable of doing things by ourselves. People look at us like with those weepy doe eyes, begging us to step in and rescue them. Society lifts us up in praise because we’re the rock that most people lean on for help. We’re always there any time someone needs a hand and we have the propensity to put ourselves last and everyone else first.

In fact, the majority of us are programmed to believe that this trait is something to be celebrated. It’s something we strive for, whether we’re aware of it or it’s a deep subconscious need to be wanted. Over time the belief sets in that we’d rather be the one with all the answers than the one lost in confusion and strife. So we push ourselves to be perfect at all times. Let this behavior go on too long and it begins to define us. Our identity gets wrapped around the illusion that we are always capable, never fallible. We crave the attention. We love being needed. Our value in the world depends on it. The feedback we hear from others is like a drug. Showering us with praise and accolades for being so strong and dependable.

But my darling, this isn’t healthy. And it’s certainly not sustainable. We are not meant to hold up everything within a 50 miles radius of our life. We are not required to always be strong and capable for everyone around us. We deserve to be support too. And yet, life has probably taught us that it isn’t always safe asking for help. Most of us were raised in neglectful or unsafe situations and we learned that if we needed something, we’re going to have to do it ourselves. We weren’t supported emotionally so we learned to internalize our feelings. Reaching out for help was dangerous because it opened us up to ridicule and attacks, so we decided to do everything on our own.

As children we were just trying to survive. And eventually we grew into adults that looked really capable, like we had our sh*t together. And we loved it. But it’s not because we want to be that, it’s because we HAD to be that and we never grew out of it. So, patterns locked in. People learned and went along with who we presented ourselves to be. And the world continues to turn while we’re trying to hold it up for everyone.

The day will come though, if it hasn’t already, when everything will come tumbling down. Our nervous system just can’t sustain such constant perfection and strength. It needs a break. It needs to be supported too. But how do we unlearn years of habits and coping mechanisms to be able to even begin to learn how to ask for help? Slowly. Gently. And with education and practice.

Did you know that there are practices that can settle your nervous system when you are triggered? Certain breathing techniques and somatic movements designed to calm the part of you that is activated in high stress moments. Sound therapy, toning, humming, and even screaming into a pillow are all effective as well, depending on what resonated with you. There are certain hand placements you can do on the body, visualizations, and other powerful practices that can be a soothing balm to an overactive, overstimulated nervous system.

With time and a little patience and a lot of grace, you can begin to reprogram your nervous system to feel safe enough to allow others in and to receive the same support you give others. Because that’s truly the end game. Feeling safe in your own body. Trauma taught us that we are never safe, that we couldn’t count on our people, our surroundings, that there is always something lurking in the shadows ready to pounce on us. And so we adapted into highly alert, hyper-vigilant people, always scanning our perimeter looking for danger. So much so that we trained the nervous system to never truly be at rest. But that’s exactly why we’re here now, feeling the burnout, noticing our body’s breakdown and loss of the vitality we once had. It’s time to heal my dear. It’s time to come home within your own body, to teach your nervous system that not everything is out to get you. It’s time you felt safe for once in your life.

It’s a simply answer, but not an easy journey. And something not everyone is ready for. But what’s important is that it’s time to come home and remember who you were before you became who you are. It’s time to drop the masks or being overly capable. It’s time to rest your weary bones and drop the façade of being the savior. Because, to all my dear strong ones out there, it’s time for you to feel the same support you give everyone else. You deserve to be safe too. You deserve to feel loved not for what you do for others, but simply for the divine soul that you are.

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