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The Importance of Respecting your Own Pace

One of the side effects of developmental trauma can be a feeling of urgency and internal pressure.  Even when part of you wants to get something done, allowing yourself to rest and digest experiences, rather than immediately react and respond, is a measurable success. Understanding if you are not ready to confront or write about it, being patient with yourself, and taking time to metabolize it is an act of self-compassion and kindness. While on the one hand, a friend calls me “Charnacation”, because I mobilize into action, manifest things, and love productivity, my system is slow to release the impact of the emotions of the individuals in my life and the collective has on my body. It is a lot of energy to neutralize. We may have different paces in various situations and need to listen for what is needed today.

Clients needing to develop the habit of respecting their own pace is something I see all the time. The urgent, impatient, judgmental parts of them run right over the fearful overwhelmed part. A client wanted to do bodywork with me and most weeks would come in and request this. She was repeatedly frustrated to discover that part of her would stop breathing and tighten up as I approached the bodywork table. So I would keep stepping back until I was standing across the room, and would say, “I will not come any closer unless you want me to”. She wanted to just push through and heal. Unfortunately, that is not how it works.

  1. Being able to feel the frozen scared part of you is the first step.
  2. Then being able to identify the conflicted parts and be able to communicate with both of them is next.
  3. If you do not respect the part of you that is unsafe, usually you remain stuck in a holding pattern. Immobility is a side effect of overwhelm.

What helps move you forward is actually slowing down enough to listen, accept and appreciate the range of responses, using different strategies to protect you. When the part of you that needs a boundary respected actually gets heard, then that need begins to shift. For one person, they have stockpiled No’s that need to come out, and they need to set the same boundary, again and again, to be convinced they have the right to say “No” and experience it being respected. Someone else does it once and is ready to receive the thing that the eager-to-heal part has been waiting for.

Recently, I wanted to write about an upsetting experience, but I felt overwhelmed and flooded with anger every time I thought about it. It was not only the actual situation, but the personal material that got activated in my nervous system, as well as the cultural significance of how these people had responded that created dense layers of rage. I had to take a few weeks to digest everything, rather than push through and force myself before I was ready. There are endless opportunities on a daily basis to respect our own and others’ limits, but you have to register them as valid limits to even see them. You have to comprehend that it is a humanizing process for you and the people around you to have those limits respected. You can read about this in my next blog entry.

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© 2022 By Charna Cassell, LMFT. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. MFC 51238.

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