Something I love about working with the overwhelming majority of people I work with is, they’re incredibly motivated.
They WANT to understand what’s happening in their nervous system. They WANT to know what the research says about the best way to change.
A lot of the people I’ve worked with have gone out of their way to do deep dives into both the research literature and the popular literature, including media coverage, related to what they’re struggling with— depression, trauma, ADHD, addiction.
That level of motivation is awesome.
I strongly believe that we don’t really get good at something unless we kind of make it our hobby.
There is kind of a downside to doing that, though.
When you go out of your way to read as much as you can about what you’re struggling with, particularly stuff written by “experts” on the subject, it’s easy to get certain ideas in your head that may or may not be helpful— but may be hard to shake.
The reality is, no matter how many books by “experts” you read, most of them haven’t met you.
They don’t know your history, they don’t know your learning style, they don’t know the progression of what you’re struggling with.
They may have helpful things to say based on their years of experience…but we need to remember that doesn’t make what they say gospel truth for you.
Research on a condition is necessarily impacted by the culture in which that research occurs and the demographics of both the researchers and the research subjects.
Research is also impacted by the theoretical biases of the research team.
Researchers very often tend to publish findings that both confirm their own biases, as well as conform to the conventional wisdom in the field.
Keep in mind that research that is considered valid and valuable is what they call “peer reviewed;” that is, to get published, it has to be vetted and critiqued by others in the field.
While that’s good for making sure that research is rigorous and thoughtful, it also means that research that bucks what most people in the field thinks, often has a harder time getting published.
All of which is to say: yes, do your own research. Yes, read up on what’s happening to you. Yes, read up on what professionals and experts think is helpful for people in your position.
But don’t let it get into your head. You’re you. The only “you” who has ever existed. Even if people have struggled with similar experiences, they’re STILL not you.
In the end, we all have to craft our own recovery program.
We can, and I believe should, listen to people who know more than we do, who have faced similar issues, who maybe have some credentials, and who are a little more objective than we are in our own head.
But there’s no denying that we are the architect of our own recovery.
It has to work for us.
Not for the hundreds of people that may have participated in a research study with an expert.
We shouldn’t be getting so invested in what “experts” have to say that we’re getting triggered or enraged by sentences in books.
We need to always be ready to pivot to a different perspective or approach if something isn’t working— even if it used to work for us.
We need to remember that as we recover, we change, our needs change, and very frequently that means we need to change how we’re approaching recovery.
Yup, it can be complicated, and kinda messy, and it forces us to back the hell off of our confidence that “KNOW” much of anything for sure.
I think we have to approach recovery with curiosity, and respect— and, God forbid, maybe even a little humor.
It’s a long road. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
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