Stairway to healing

by Jaclyn McCabe June 02, 2022


"Ugh, why am I back here again?" I bemoaned to my coach the other day. I was frustrated that I was hitting my head against the emotional wall on a lesson I thought I had already learned. "Don't I deserve a 'pass go' card or something?"

But instead, I was like Wile E. Coyote running smack into a painting of a tunnel. I couldn't let go of my control stuff long enough to step into the wonder of trying something different. So instead, I kept hitting the same wall, remembering there was a time I knew the way through, but unable to remember how to get there—and beating myself up about it, just to add to the fun new/old self-defeating hobby. 

"Feels like you're on a landing," my coach said. And while I might have muttered some expletives in her direction, it was the "a-ha moment" to self grace that I needed. 

You see, in my experience, healing is like walking down a spiral staircase. The staircase is narrow at the top and widens as I descend. With each turn, I hit a landing. And no matter what, the landing holds a deeper level of my "stuff." It's the place where I get to do the work, and there are no “pass go” cards, despite the landing always being the same "stuff." 

What’s on the landing might differ from person to person, but for each of us, the same issues will always pop up over and over. For me, it's usually a deeper dive into perfectionism, self-worth, and being comfortable in the unknown. And it seems like the "work" is always some version of doing scary things like speaking my truth and not worrying about what other people think. 

The good news is that after I've paused on the landing to do the work, I get to pass go and move further down the staircase. 

The stairs are the reprieve; they are the place I get to skip and laugh and frolic. They're the place where I get to take joy in the happy bits that come after doing the work. 

But when I'm on the landing, it feels like the oh-holy-hell part, and I generally hate every minute of it. Because with each flight, the stuff that needs healing is deeper—meaning older coping mechanisms, younger parts wounded.  Not to mention, the fact that I’ve already “done the work" at an easier lesson just makes me pout and scream about how unfair it all is. 

There is some good news about hitting a deeper landing: It doesn't take as long to shift my thinking and get moving again, because of all the practice I’ve had at the previous landings. 

For example, I've run smack against the perfectionist tunnel so many times at this point; I quickly pulled out my tools, did the thing I was dreading because with awareness and tools, it wasn’t that hard, and got back to frolicking within two days. But the first time I smacked into that wall many years ago, it took months to learn the new tools and practice using them before I could skillfully step off the landing into frolicville. 

And here's the best part: the space between the landings gets more expansive as I keep showing up for the journey. The reprieve is longer, and the happy bits are happier. And the magical land of frolicville, where I get to enjoy my life and use my new skills, gets bigger!

While I want healing to be a direct A to B journey with no twists and turns, no stairs to climb, and definitely no landings, that doesn’t seem to be the human experience. (And maybe even a little boring if it were.)

So hit reply, and tell me, what’s the stuff on your landing––the stuff you get to learn over and over again?

Or if you have no idea or are unsure, that’s okay, most people don't. Sign up for one of my complimentary discovery sessions and together we can explore what your pain points are and make a plan to get you frolicking in no time.  

Jaclyn McCabe
Jaclyn McCabe