Permission to Improve

The Teaching Tales of Milton Erickson are absolutely fascinating — a testament to the power of our own minds in both the beginning and end of our physical troubles. Erickson was a hypnotist (and somehow I don’t have a problem with that) who used his powers for good, in psychotherapy. His stories are incredibly motivating, even if you don’t share the subject’s ailment.

One part of a story on bedwetting has stuck with me since I first read it, mostly in how Erickson described the process of improving:

“Now, having a dry bed is a very difficult job. You might have your first dry bed in two weeks. And there has to be a lot of practice, starting and stopping. Some days you may forget to practice starting and stopping. That’s all right. Your body will be good to you. It will always give you further opportunities. And some days you may be too busy to practice starting and stopping,but that’s all right. Your body will always give you opportunities to start and stop. It would surprise me very much if you bad a permanently dry bed within three months. It would also surprise me if you didn’t have a permanently dry bed within six months.And the first dry bed will be much easier than two dry beds in succession. And three dry beds in succession is much harder. And four dry beds in succession is still harder. After that it gets easier.You can have five, six, seven, a whole week of dry beds. And then you can know that you can have one week of dry beds and another week of dry beds.”

I took my time with the girl. I had nothing else to do. I spent an hour and a half with her and dismissed her. About two weeks later she brought in this present for me—the first present she had ever given with the knowledge that she had had a dry bed

More than anything, this particular story has given me permission to let my body take the lead, and to trust myself more. To celebrate the small wins, when there are two days without accidents. That it’s okay to be imperfect, because you’ll be imperfect until you get it.

I see that in myself as I struggle to set up new healthy habits, or focus on updating this blog daily. I also see it in my own gut, with the starts and stops of healing, and it reminds me to celebrate the small wins.

One day at a time, then two, then three.

Keep going.

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