Three Stage Process of Emotional Healing
Stage Two: Surrender
By Dave Piltz, MFT
Admit ----> Surrender ----> Freedom
Surrender is a challenge in emotional healing. It is the critical moment in which one’s body, mind, and spirit coalesce into an agreement that they cannot continue carrying past hurts, pains, abuse, shame, guilt, anger and sadness. It is a moment in time that is not easily forgotten as it demarcates the change in the emotional healing journey from admitting to the next stage – surrender. This demarcation creates a sense of renewed hope and relief that one can overcome the past and current challenges being faced in life. It begins the paths of gratefulness and humbleness of emotional healing and it also beings the toughest and longest part of the journey of emotional healing.
In this stage of emotional healing, one creates insight and awareness that they no longer need to hold on to the past in their beliefs, thoughts, words, and actions. It is an awareness that surpasses logic and transcends into the emotional awareness of past pain, abuse, shame, guilt, sadness. This new emotional awareness provides the individual with a new language to describe their past trauma, hurt, and pain and create new desired behaviors that become sustainable. During this stage of emotional healing, new behaviors become the new norm, because the old beliefs of worthlessness, helplessness, not lovable, and not important are replaced with beliefs of being worthy, lovable and important. As beliefs shift from the world of the NOT – creating a life that seems to continue to repeat hurt – to the world of I AM ABLE, the individual is able to create sustainable behaviors that are aligned with the new belief system. This new belief system can only be created when one is able to surrender their old belief system. Therefore, this stage of surrender is a journey of grieving. Grieving’s end result is healing which naturally takes us to the third and final stage that is described in another blog.
Grieving is often considered appropriate when a loved one, pet or friend passes away. But grieving occurs whenever an individual has to manage a loss. The loss could be anything from losing a job, a house, a spouse or partner, etc. It can also occur in chronic illnesses as limitations appear, as we age and our bodies change and we are unable to live as when we were younger, and/or as we grow and heal and change our behaviors. Loss demands that a new normal is created and lived out. This new normal may be what is desired as it creates the wishes of the individual but can be very difficult to live out as the new normal reminds the individual every day that something changed. The new norm signifies that a new belief about oneself is being generated and tested which makes this complex because replacing a belief that was generated decades ago isn’t a quick task. So, during the surrender stage of emotional healing, one traverses and lives in tension between old beliefs and behaviors and new beliefs and behaviors. This stage provides the opportunity for the individual to create space for grieving to occur.
In addition to grieving and creating new beliefs and behaviors. This stage is a chance to examine and explore why the old (or more accurately current) beliefs exist. It is a chance to be introspective of childhood and early adult life and delve into the environmental dynamics of one’s life such as but not limited to race, ethnic, sexual, gender, economic, educational and geographical identifies and experiences. These identities and experiences create the traumas individuals have during their childhood or early adulthood. In exploring these traumatic experiences, the individual gains a deeper appreciation and understanding for their beliefs and behaviors. This deeper appreciation creates new awareness for the individual to realize, wrestle and reconcile that the events occurred in their lives, that they were not responsible for them as children and that they didn’t deserve to be treated in a way that wasn’t nurturing. As this process unfolds, the individual is able to practice some form of forgiveness for themselves and for others in their lives. The hallmark of this stage is for the individual to forgive themselves and eradicate any blame that is being held in the mind, body, or soul. This blame is linked to old beliefs about the individual’s worth and can create a situation in which forgiving themselves is challenging. As this process unfolds blame of oneself begins to diminish and is replaced with beliefs of worth and new desired behaviors that support emotional healing.
The surrender stage is the longest, most complex and difficult stage to journey through and yet it is the most rewarding. This stage illustrates the individual’s strength, courage, resiliency, creativity, resolve and intelligence. But for many, as they traverse this stage they do not feel strong and courageous and yet that is exactly what brought them to this stage. During this stage individuals have an opportunity to examine their own strengths that they do not easily recognize and build them up as they create emotional healing. All individuals have the capacity and skill to heal and all individuals have the choice to heal. During this stage, strengths are highlighted providing proof it is possible to heal emotionally and that they are healing. Each conversation during this arduous stage proves the individual has strength and courage to examine themselves and create an emotionally healed individual.