Cee and I have done a lot of our own grief work over the years. We’ve gone from grieving, to surviving, to thriving. It’s a wonderful feeling. But for all of that, we found ourselves stuck in a funny kind of way. We were stuck in what I will call the Habit of Grief. When we do or think or say anything for too long, for too many times, our brains become hardwired, becoming what we call our reality.
With Cee, we were always looking over our shoulders, waiting for another round of near-death struggles. (You can read her story here.) Even when we were as sure as we could be that she was beyond that, every time she coughed too much (Lymes had a lung component to it) or was too tired (as chronically ill people tend to be), we’d get ready for disaster. But disaster didn’t come.
We’d heave a big sigh and get on with things, all the while still subconsciously looking for the warning signs. Life was a constant repetition of breath holding followed by a big sigh then more breath holding. It’s not a fun way to live.
Now she’s healthy and we don’t need to do that. But how do we get out of the habit? By pivoting and practicing something new until it becomes old and “normal”.
Here’s a practical example. When someone would ask Cee how she was feeling, she’d say, “Not bad”. Not bad. That implies not really good, either. Isn’t it at least one notch below “good”? Yet when I asked her what was wrong, she couldn’t find anything.
Me: “So, that means you’re good, right?”
Cee: (Reluctantly) “I guess so.”
Me: “So why not say that? Why not say you’re good?”
Cee: (Mumbling) “I don’t know.”
The reason she wasn’t able to say she was good was because she was used to saying she was bad. She was just used to it. It had become a mindset, a hard-wired-in-her-brain mindset. It had become her reality and she wasn’t even aware of it.
We’ve made it a practice to change those two little negative words, “not bad”, to a positive life-affirming word, “good”. It’s made a huge amount of difference in how she views her world. Now she’s proud to announce with a big smile, “I’m healthy.”
Hugs and peace,