When we learn in school, there’s repetition to help us maintain knowledge. When we exercise and lift weights, there’s repetition in order to help our muscles get stronger. But during these moments of stretching, we rarely discuss why the rest portion is so vital after each session. There’s a reason why we don’t lift weights for eight hours straight or why we don’t learn the same subject all day long in school.
The fact of the matter is that if we lifted weights constantly, our muscles would only tear more and more and not get stronger. Part of the strengthening process comes from our muscles tearing and healing. The healing is what makes them stronger.
The same goes for our mental learning. If we learned new material and crammed for a test on that material the same night, sure we could have lots of repetition until the test, but we wouldn’t give the time needed to truly absorb and learn the material. It would be surface, memorizing, but not actually learning.
Understanding these things has helped me to also understand why the same thing happens to me when I have a big period of emotional growth. First I feel giddy and high and I’m so happy that I’ve come to new levels of awareness, but then it fades and I fall into a slump of sadness and depression.
All I hear in these moments is that little nasty voice in my head telling me it’s hopeless. That I’m a waste of space. That I’ll never reach my goals because it’s too hard and I’m not good enough.
This voice is a liar. I know this. But it still takes me down this darker path that I’m beginning to grasp is just a part of rewriting my narrative. I have to hear this belittling voice because it’s always been there. Then I have to tell it no. That it’s wrong. That I’m worthy and will achieve my goals.
This is my emotional muscle (for lack of a better term) tearing and healing to become stronger.
Because I see this, it’s vital during these times that I don’t give in to the dark voice and thoughts. Otherwise, it strengthens the darkness instead of strengthening the healthy changes that recently took place.
I don’t know why this seems so different than simply learning or exercising. Maybe this is why changing our emotional state is damn difficult.
When we’re learning something fresh, then we have an empty slate. When we’re strength training, we are usually starting from scratch. Unless we’re taught wrong to begin with and have to relearn material, then it’s harder. Or if we have huge biceps and they’re out of balance with the rest of our body and we must, therefore, compensate for this by building up surrounding muscles. These latter issues are certainly harder than starting from scratch. But emotional growth is different.
Once we have a memory, we don’t just store it in some file cabinet on our brains. No… We re-remember it with certain stimuli, but we also carry memory in our muscles. This means that when we are re-contextualizing memory, we must do it not just in our thoughts but our bodies too.
Change is hard. Seeing changes that need to take place are only the first step. If we give up during the time when the dark voices begin to shout at us, then we’ll never reach the other side and strengthen the positive memory muscle we really need to be happy and thrive.
Today I’m battling the dark voice. But I’m doing something different with it. Rather than let it drag me down, I’m allowing it to coexist with the new growth and changes I’ve experienced recently. This is what happens with practice. So the voice is there but it’s losing power.
I’m allowing this experiment to take place rather than call to get assurance from outside of me. Because the truth is, I know this voice is a liar. It’s the same voice that causes depression. And depression is a fucking liar too.
Right now, I don’t feel like I need to tell this voice in my head to fuck off. Instead, I feel that I need to redirect it. When I hear that I’m not worthy, I focus on how worthy I am. When I hear that no one cares and I’ll never be what I want to be, I focus on how many people show me they care daily and how I’m already becoming (and in some cases am) what I want to be.
This is a new way of looking at things for me.
I feel it’s important that when any of us make big changes and begin to accept that we need healing and growth, that we understand there will be these backslides. They have to happen because that’s how we build strength. Otherwise, we’re just ‘cramming for the test’.
For any of my friends, readers, or anyone stumbling across this blog, please know that these dark thoughts and voices really do fade over time if we keep focusing on the good. And when they aren’t fading, it’s okay to ask for help. Because giving in is never the answer.
It may be hard to rid these darker thoughts, but the more we focus on strengthening the positive thoughts, the more we strengthen that muscle memory. The more we deepen the positive thought grooves in our heads, the more likely our thoughts will slowly begin to connect with those grooves instead of the darker ones we’re used to jumping to. Because we’ve made these positive ones stronger and deeper with practice.
I’m worthy of all the goodness in life. I’m worthy of being heard. Worthy of love. Worthy of happiness and health. And so are you.