-Introduction: One Percent at a Time
Healing is done one percent at a time. That one percent may look different on different days and for different people. But the healing process can’t begin if we either never ask for help or expect someone else to take responsibility for us. We have to commit to do the work ourselves which takes sacrifice and humility.
I’m going to start out with a tough pill to swallow: not everyone wants to be healed.
Now, what on earth does that mean? Being injured can really hurt, and isn’t it a basic instinct to want that pain to go away? Maybe not. Sometimes we chose to suffer in silence because we don’t want to bother others with our pain. On the other extreme, sometimes carrying the label of being a victim can provide easier benefits.
In short, we often have a hard time asking for the appropriate amount of help for our situation. Either we ask for none while unseen injuries eat away at us, or we feel entitled that our problems should be taken care of by someone else on our behalf because we’ve been victimized.
Long term, neither one of these solutions sets anyone free from a past hurt, but they feel good in the short run. On the one hand, hidden wounds fester if they are never given a voice and help is never asked for. On the other hand, a toxic, codependent relationship between caregiver and care receiver can develop. The one seeking help becomes dependent on the one giving it, and the one giving it may find their meaning in continually providing aid.
The path out of this is the humility to admit the level of help that is appropriate to your injury and the sacrifice of, the killing off of, an identity of “victim.” We are not designed to heal alone. We are also not merely a product of the catastrophes that befall us.
Let’s look at an illustration.
When I was in second grade, someone in my school was involved in a horrific lawn mower accident. He lost his leg. After the accident, loving friends and family sent cards, toys, balloons, every flavor of ice cream, to help the young kid cope with the trauma. What else would you do but shower a wounded kid with as much affection as possible to kickstart their healing process?
Now imagine I run into this boy 20 years later. And imagine he instantly asks me to refill his supply of Rocky Road, because, after all, he’s a poor victim who lost his leg in a horrific lawn mower accident.
I would have to ask: was I talking to a grown, adult man—or that small, frightened boy from two decades ago?
He’s become entirely dependent on outside resources to fill his needs which, by now, he could have fulfilled himself. Fostering a dependence, a long-term sense of entitlement, to an outside entity to meet needs that, once you’ve done your processing, you can fulfill yourself, is toxic.
It is also toxic to allow an invisible wound to fester without asking for help to allow it to see the light of day. We are designed to heal with the help of another, but if our healing and journey to find fulfillment becomes dependent on the behavior of another, it becomes toxic as well.
Maybe we have our excuses to not ask for help or take ownership of creating change. If you break a femur, the fact that you have a broken bone is a reasonable excuse for not getting back into a running regimen (though taking responsibility to rest for a while is still being responsible). A cast is necessary for a season. But eventually, that leg will heal if you allow it. And eventually, that excuse runs out and it’s time for the responsibility to heal to take a different course.
Excuses have an expiration date.
What do you need to take responsibility for today? Is it time to get humble and ask for help? Is it time to move on from your “cast” and for your journey to realize a new course?
To realize a new course in our journey, we have to be careful about our expectations. The changes we read about in inspirational stories, zero-to-hero type adventures, make it sound like we should expect that “after” photo to appear within a week or two. But below the surface, the real victory was the small, one percent change, that person made every day.
And the one percent change each day will look different from one to another. We don’t have the same resources to meet the same capacity of work output each and every day. Sometimes it’s within our control but other times, not so much.
The difference is the intentions you set at the beginning of the day. Will you choose to take responsibility for the resources you have on a given day and use them toward fulfilling your potential?
New year’s resolutions tend to fail because of poor expectations. At first, aim low. Look at the things in your life that seem mundane but that you repeat over and over. We are what we repeatedly do. Maybe it’s just being true to your wake time, negotiating how meals are made in the home, or dedicating ten minutes in the morning to a routine you know would improve your life.
It need not be losing the weight, ridding yourself of panic attacks all at once, or becoming rich beyond belief (though true wealth is found in your relationships). The real victory is the tiny, one percent change that you make daily. It’s not found in going ALL IN with a whole big program; it’s cultivating a reformed mindset that has faith in the process, that the tiny changes are in fact the biggest. Just do the math.
How much time in your life do you spend making meals, for example? Get that “small thing” right and imagine what that one change will do for your life years down the road.
Another poor expectation is that change is simply linear and step-wise. The path that leads us out of a traumatic experience is lined with days of disappointment, doubt and dread. It might start great as you, say, stop eating sugar or drinking alcohol, then we think it’s all gone to hell the moment we relapse.
But that’s precisely part of the journey.
Progress = small steps forward + encounters with failure + evaluation of experiences + slightly larger steps forward.
Working through those darker days after you’ve experienced some progress—rather than giving in and giving up—is proof that you’re taking responsibility and shedding dependence on a substance or on what other people will provide for you.
The mix of childhood, domestic and/or wartime trauma can make it maddeningly frustrating to figure out where to even begin. In some cases, it takes years of therapy, meditation, and a battery of other positive lifestyle practices to heal from these events. But the first thing we need to do is to make the decision to heal with one percent changes at a time.
Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Reaping the short-lived benefits of the sympathy we get from others when we’re identifying as victims, or plunging face first into a new wellness program at an unsustainable rate, burning out and giving up, are extremes we should avoid.
Before you continue with the next lessons, ask yourself if you really are ready to do the deep, tough work that trauma healing requires. Ask yourself whether you’re prepared to see a new version of yourself that’s living up to your fullest potential. And, if the answer is a fiery YES, hopefully you’ll begin to see that you grow not in spite of your trauma, but because of it. When we stop identifying with trauma and begin to realize that difficulties happen for us rather than to us, new doors that begin to open.
This adventure will go up and down: it will be full of terror, exhilaration, suffering, rewards, plot twists, setbacks, and occasional trips to the mountain top. But the bad days will make the good days feel even better.
In the next few lessons, we’ll explore how storytelling offers us a path through pain, and how even though your past scars and wounds can feel like the end of your story, they can in fact serve as a threshold into your hero’s journey.
Scroll all the way to the bottom of this screen and click the “Mark Complete” button to continue to the next lesson.
For the extent of this course, plan to have some type of journal to do your assignments in. We recommend the Monk Manual but a pen and blank page will do just fine as well.
- Rank yourself in three areas. On a scale of 1-10, how ready, willing, and confident are you that you are prepared, willing, and able to make a change?
- Of those three rankings, what made you pick them? Why weren’t they higher or lower?
- What does one percent better look like today? How would your life be different if you were to add up those doses of change every day for a year?
The exercises in R+R Elements might be added to what you’re already doing or can be started from the ground up. In this module, we’re going to look at some fundamental movement patterns every human should work on, and from there, progress into longer and more challenging workouts.
Squatting is one of human’s most foundational movements. Children naturally squat down to pick things up or use it as a resting position.
Later in R+R Elements, you’ll come across workout routines that include squats. Practice the basic movement today by watching this video.
Do 3 sets of 15 reps either as an addition to your warm-up or as a micro-workout you can squeeze in throughout the day.