What to do when you feel like you are not making any progress on your healing

In this podcast (episode #464) and blog, I talk about what to do when you feel like you are not making any progress on your mental health journey.

Does the mental health progress you are making not feel like progress? Or it is not what you or others expected?  Have you felt like nothing has gotten any clearer? Do you feel like you still lack awareness?  

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in the right place! 

Let’s start with the lack of awareness. If you feel like you still lack mental awareness or are just not getting to the root of the issue in your life, this is actually a sign of developing awareness! The fact that you are aware you are battling with this is excellent insight. It shows that you are self-regulating your thinking, becoming more aware of what is going on in your mind, brain and body, and are working on getting to the root of the issue that is affecting you (even if you are not there yet!). 

The best thing you can do when you feel like this is to practice being kind to yourself. Take some time and ask yourself where these expectations are coming from. Are they realistic? do you feel like you need to have things figured out by a certain time? Why? Are you comparing your healing journey to a previous experience or someone else? Are you giving yourself the time and space you need to heal? Do you recognize that your healing journey will look different from day to day? 

If you still feel stuck, it could be that you are struggling to find the words to describe what you are experiencing. As I mentioned in a previous podcast, we need to become thought detectives to find the source(s) of our mental distress (for more on this, check out my latest book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and app Neurocycle). This starts with understanding the signals that the mind, brain, and body send us when we are going through something. These signals alert us TO protect us.  

There are four main signals: your emotions, your behaviors, your physical symptoms, and your perspective/outlook. Some examples are:

  • Feelings of irritability and/or hopelessness (an emotional warning signal)
  • Ignoring calls, texts or emails (a behavioral warning signal)
  • The world feels more negative (a perspective warning signal)
  • Muscle aches and/or pains (a physical warning signal

We all experience emotions and feelings in different ways under different circumstances—they can keep changing even in the space of one day or hour. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with you if you feel you’re “exploding” with emotions! You’re simply experiencing something that needs urgent attention.

Here is short guide to help you if you feel like you are struggling to make sense of your emotional warning signals, which can be confusing: 

Today, I feel . . . 

1–3 Average. I have normal ups and downs as I go through life with all its challenges as a human in a complex world.

4–6 A hovering or floating anxiety and/or depression, worry, frustration, or toxic stress. I have that nagging angst that something is wrong, but I haven't quite pinpointed what yet. I understand it is more persistent because it often comes from stuff I have been suppressing just below the surface of my conscious awareness. 

7–10 An increasing anxiety and/or depression that comes with not facing and dealing with my stuff. I recognize this often explodes in different areas of my life.

Here are some words to help guide you as you think about what emotional level you are on:  

Today, I feel . . . 

affection, anger, angst, anguish, annoyance, anxiety, apathy, arousal, awe, boredom, confidence, contempt, contentment, courage, curiosity, depression, desire, despair, disappointment, disgust, distrust, dread, ecstasy, embarrassment, envy, euphoria, excitement, fear, frustration, gratitude, grief, guilt, happiness, hatred, hope, horror, hostility, hurt, hysteria, indifference, interest, jealousy, joy, loathing, loneliness, love, lust, outrage, panic, passion, pity, pleasure, pride, rage, regret, relief, remorse, sadness, satisfaction, self- confidence, shame, shock, shyness, sorrow, suffering, surprise, terror, trust, wonder, worry, zeal, zest.

Remember that these warning signals are invitations to look inward. If you can sit with them and listen to them, you have the opportunity to gain priceless information that will help with your healing. So, when you are ready, write down how you are feeling (your signals) as short statements. Next, ask yourself 3-4 “whys” (why you feel the way you do) and answer them out loud and by writing your answers down. For example:

What emotional signal do I feel? I feel frustrated in my relationship—I feel insecure. Why? Because I am battling to trust the other person. Why? Because I have a fear of rejection. Why? Because I was neglected as a child.   

Now repeat this with your behaviors, bodily sensations and perspectives. Think of what your mind, brain and body are trying to tell you to protect you and help you heal. Ask yourself questions like: 

  • How do I feel physically? Why?
  • Are any of my behaviors bothering me? Why?
  • What is my outlook/worldview/perspective—how do I feel about my life/the world/etc.? Why?

Write this down any way you wish to help you start organizing your thinking. Then, once you go through this exercise, you can start listening to what these signals are telling you and work through how you feel to reconceptualize these thought patterns using a mind management system like the Neurocycle (see my app Neurocycle and my book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess). The goal is to learn how to listen to the nonconscious mind using your conscious mind, and then using what you have gathered to start changing how these thoughts are affecting your mental health and life. 

For more on overcoming setbacks on your mental health journey, listen to my podcast (episode #464). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!). 

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This podcast is sponsored by:

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Podcast Highlights

1:15 We all feel stuck at times! 

1:36, 4:45, 7:11 If you feel like you lack mental awareness, this is a sign of progress! 

2:58 The treatment effect & feeling lost 

7:45 Why it is so important to understand your own expectations for healing & how other people’s expectations can affect you 

10:11 Ways to develop your emotional & physical awareness

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional. 

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