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Embracing the Layers of Healing: Understanding Setbacks as Progress

Updated: Jul 3



An autumn dirt road with discolored trees on each side

I want to address a common concern many of us face on our healing journeys: the recurrence of old symptoms or behaviors. When this happens, it’s easy to think that whatever we were doing has stopped working and that we’ve experienced some sort of setback, or what we were doing wasn't really working, and whatever improvement experienced was a fluke. However, the truth is that healing often requires going through many layers, and what might feel like a setback could actually be a step forward in disguise.


The Nature of Healing

Healing is not a linear process. By the time you experience symptoms or receive a diagnosis, a lot has been happening beneath the surface for a long period of time. Imagine each layer of stress and trauma as a layer of sediment building up over the years. Eventually, your body reaches a point where it says, "Stop, I can't do this anymore."


Your body has an innate understanding of what it can handle, both in terms of stress and healing. Trying to heal through every layer of imbalance in a short period of time is neither possible nor healthy. This is why, when you see symptoms creep back, it may be a sign that your body is ready to address another layer.


Understanding the Cycle of Healing

For those who have experienced loss, the cycle of grief offers a poignant example of how healing works. You may feel the weight of grief, then find some relief, only for the grief to return. This back-and-forth is your body’s way of healing in manageable stages. If you were to process all your grief at once, it would be too much to handle. Similarly, when you experience a recurrence of symptoms, it’s your body signaling that it's ready to tackle the next layer. It’s not a failure or a setback but an indication of progress. Your body is telling you that it’s strong enough to handle more healing.


Shifting Your Perspective on Setbacks

When we look at perceived setbacks without judgment and with a spirit of curiosity and inquisitiveness, we start to understand our body's needs better. This shift in perspective allows us to listen to our body’s signals and respond with the care and attention it requires.

Instead of viewing the return of symptoms as a failure, see it as an opportunity to address deeper layers of imbalance. This mindset encourages patience and compassion, both essential components of what is required for healing.


Embracing the Journey

Healing is a journey through many layers, and each layer brings you closer to a state of balance and well-being. By embracing this process and understanding that setbacks are often signs of progress, you can navigate your healing journey with greater ease and confidence.


Remember, your body knows what it needs and is capable of incredible healing. Trust in the process, be patient with yourself, and approach each layer with curiosity and compassion. Your journey towards healing is unique, and every step, even those that feel like setbacks, is a step forward.

By adopting this perspective, you can transform how you experience and respond to the ups and downs that you encounter.


Embrace each layer, listen to your body, and trust that you are moving forward, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Your body’s ability to heal is powerful, and by understanding and respecting its process, you can unlock your full healing potential.

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