I recently completed a process known as the Safe and Sound Protocol. Without going into too much detail, the SSP is a 5-day audio program that exercises the middle ear, which is part of the social engagement system within our nervous systems that wires us for connection and safety.
During the protocol, I found that I suddenly felt extremely vulnerable. Old narratives about myself – “You are beyond help” and “You will never be enough for a partner” – came seemingly out of nowhere like ghosts of Christmas past. Since I finished the 5 days, I can feel my nervous system reorganizing around what has changed. I’m having multiple streams of consciousness simultaneously – I feel anxious and speedy in one, settled and accepting in another, observing myself in yet another. I understand that the process continues for weeks but given the acute phase changes, I realized something important that I wanted to share. What I experienced throughout the SSP and afterward confirmed what I have found over the course of many years of working with myself, my mind, and my emotions.
In order to move toward growth and change, inevitably there is a period of unraveling.
This was true in early recovery when I rekindled a relationship with an old love (now my now-love) and felt like my rib cage had been opened like cabinet doors and just left that way.
This was true when I began meditating to feel better and initially felt worse. Much worse.
This was true in motherhood in which I continue to wrestle with identity and the truth of suffering for myself and now for my child.
This has also been true for every client that has made strides in their Intuitive Eating and body image journey. Before they could realize their own micro and macro breakthroughs, they had to feel as if things were getting worse. They had to question everything. They had to leave that familiar but imprisoning shore of rigid control and swim out into the sea with the promise of ultimately reaching something peaceful, joyful, better. They had to lose hold of what they clung to in order to open to something different.
If we know that the unraveling must precede ultimate growth, how might that change how we move through it? What could you say to your unraveling self to comfort them? To reassure them that losing the ground beneath their feet is worth it in the end?