• Leatha Kingi

Healing is Cyclical, not Linear

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Does this sound familiar? You commit to your emotional healing. You start making progress - feeling better, less reactive, more peaceful. Then BAM! Something happens and you slip right back into old patterns. Or you wake up feeling worse than you have in ages. Or you are triggered by something you thought you had worked through. You feel discouraged. The setback feels overwhelming. Maybe you question investing so much energy into healing. Maybe you want to (or actually do) throw your hands up and crawl back into bed and give up.

Ever felt like this?

I have been in this place so many times. And I realized that my expectations were shaped by a paradigm that had been ingrained in me since kindergarten - specifically, the colonial Western idea that things in life are linear - with a beginning, middle, and an end.

What happens when we think of healing as linear? Think of a one way trip to a highly anticipated destination. You are assuming, hoping, planning that you will go from point A to point B. So then every delay is frustrating and seen as something holding us back from where we are going. We may not recognize or observe the journey, much less enjoy it, because the entire focus becomes the arrival. We may do whatever it takes to get there - a perfunctory checklist, rushing through if we can. If we think of healing this way, of course we get frustrated when we are delayed from our final arrival.

But the truth* is, there is no final destination. Healing is not linear. Instead, it is cyclical. Let me explain.

Rather than a journey to a destination, consider that healing IS the journey. Consider that instead of moving from station to station in one direction along the healing route, instead we evolve and grow the way a seed becomes a sapling and then a tree through the seasons. Each winter the plant slows down, each spring and summer it brings forth new growth, each fall it sheds what is no longer serving it. And through each cycle the plant becomes stronger and more resilient. Some years it may face illness or drought. And in later years, the plant will do what it needs to do to make up for those tough seasons. Through every cycle, the plant is continually growing - even during periods where it appears to have no fruit or new growth, even in periods where it appears to be regressing. The roots are always working.

What if, instead of a specific destination, the goal was expansion? Each cycle will require different things as we move within it, and each time we expand. We expand our hearts, our capacity to love, our ability to cope with hardship. We grow. We ascend.

Frustration comes from unmet expectations. So changing the expectation that I need to somehow “arrive” in my healing has eliminated frustration. Recognizing instead that healing is cyclical and seasonal has taught me how to embrace and accept what is - which has actually led to continual expansion.


I am healing from poor self esteem, from a lifetime of harshly criticizing and never being satisfied with my physical appearance. I use affirmations and essential oils and inner child work consistently. I feel great. I feel beautiful. But then I had a bad day. I look in the mirror and the old criticisms come back, as clear and cruel as ever. I feel ugly.

Linear perspective: I feel frustrated. I wonder if all the work I have done has been worth it. I judge myself harshly for being so weak, so easily tempted. I throw my hands up and give up, feeling like I haven’t gotten anywhere.

Cyclical perspective: When the old patterns arise, I feel the negative feelings and recognize this as a testament to the ability of the human brain to retain neural patterns. I accept this as a reminder, not a setback, and I have hope. The negative thoughts don’t completely stop, but they eventually happen less frequently and more importantly, when they happen, I am able to accept and release them and move forward.

I have grown to embrace healing as a rhythm that enlarges and magnifies instead of a determinate route with a specific destination. The question then, the question I hear more than any other, is “how?” How do we experience the expansion and progression of healing?

I used to think that the answer to that question was awareness. That awareness of our flaws and weaknesses and wounds was the key to healing. I no longer believe that to be the case. While awareness is a necessary part of healing, the “work” of healing comes through tiny habits and rituals. The impact of healing comes little by little as we consistently keep and build upon small habits.

As I’ve progressed in my healing, several obstacles consistently come up. Essential oil rituals like these have helped support me through each of them.


Feeling like a victim because of past or present situations. Feeling like I can’t heal because of my environment or people in my environment. Feeling stuck.

To consider:

Our wounding is not our fault but our healing is our responsibility.

Affirmation + oils:

I have firm boundaries. I am the steward of my energy. Use clove, the oil of boundaries.

I reclaim my power. I create my life. Use ginger, the oil of empowerment.


Feeling too raw and wounded to connect with others. Feeling fearful of sharing with others despite a desire to do so. Self isolating. Feeling alone. Afraid we are losing our loved ones as they don’t understand our healing. Afraid to speak our truth to loved ones. Feeling excessively independent and that we must do everything ourselves.

To consider:

Healing is individual responsibility but happens in community and in relationships. Community is our container. As we grow and evolve, so will our community. This can be difficult to accept. Others we are connected to may trigger us, or seem to be sabotaging us or holding us back. I also believe periods of isolation are normal and even healthy. Some people need them more than others. Even so, connection is a vital part of living and healing, so be mindful of the extent of isolation.

Affirmation + oils:

I am connected. I belong here. Use cedarwood - oil of community.

I am safe to be seen and heard. Use lavender - oil of communication.

I am divinely supported. I trust in the flow of life. Use arborvitae - oil of divine grace.


Recurring negative thoughts. Feeling an inability to discern truth or constant self doubt.

To consider:

We often operate as if every thought that enters our minds is true. Recognize that to have false thoughts is to be human. Example - a friend doesn’t respond to a text and I start having thoughts about their motivations - they must not like me, I offended them, they are deliberately ignoring me, etc. Not only do we have false thoughts, but then we act as if everything we think is factual. Or in other words, I develop hard feelings towards that friend with no actual evidence of their feelings or intentions towards me. Healing doesn’t necessarily mean false thoughts disappear. However, we become better able to discern truth and better able to observe our thoughts without attachment or judgment.

Affirmation + oils:

I am true to my highest self. I recognize truth. Use frankincense, the oil of truth.


Feeling discouraged by perceived setbacks or by how long healing takes or how difficult it feels. Comparing ourselves to others. Feeling as if we haven’t made enough progress, that we should be further along. Feelings of shame.

To consider:

We may get discouraged when we “peel the onion.” We heal something and then find something deeper underneath to heal too. To continue the example above around self-esteem with physical appearance - I had made a lot of progress and had stopped seeing myself as ugly and felt beautiful at times. Then I would get triggered around my looks and felt frustrated with my progress until I realized I needed to go deeper. I needed to value and love myself whether or not I was or felt beautiful. I needed to recognize my inherent value beyond my appearance. This was a deeper level of healing than what I had been able to reach previously - but that first level was a necessary step for me to be able to dive deeper.

We may also have a tendency to “should” on ourselves - to hold ourselves up to some ideal, whether an imagined one or comparing ourselves to others.

Affirmation + oils:

I love and accept myself as I am. Use pink pepper, the oil of intrinsic equality.

I am open to abundant possibilities. Use wild orange, the oil of abundance.


Feeling trapped by systemic barriers like racism, economic disparity, patriarchy etc. Feeling like damaged goods due to past trauma. Feeling stuck due to generational trauma.

To consider:

In the world of wellness these issues can often be dismissed by spiritual bypassing. Phrases like “we are all one” and “we create our own reality” without any actions to dismantle systems of oppression are offensive and empty. Systemic barriers are very real and cause extensive trauma. However, we are able to heal, thrive, and grow despite them.

Affirmation + oils:

I am resilient. Use turmeric, the oil of restoration.

I am the result of the love of thousands. My ancestors uphold me. Use Douglas fir, the oil of generational wisdom.


Extreme exhaustion. Feeling burnt out.

To consider:

Sometimes embarking on an emotional healing journey feels less like a choice and more like the only option because chronic stress and/or trauma causes our bodies to shut down. We may experience extreme physical and mental exhaustion that doesn’t seem to improve with rest. Things that we were once able to cope with easily may result in total overwhelm. Along with addressing the issue with professional help, oils can be very supportive. Have hope. For me, these healing crises helped me to recognize how much I needed to shift my focus towards my own best interests in order to be able to to show up for my loved ones, and they set me on a lifelong path of self love and progression.

Affirmation + oils:

I am renewed. Use basil, the oil of renewal.

I love and accept myself as I am. Use magnolia, the oil of self compassion.


Feeling stuck in a rut. Unexplained or long term feelings of shame and unworthiness.

To consider:

Childhood experiences that lead to deep wounding can often be buried so that we can survive. So can other traumatic experiences. Sometimes the obstacle in our healing is that we have unresolved emotions that limit us - they need to come to the surface so we can let them go.

Affirmation + oils:

I am worthy of all good things. I have divine purpose. Use copaiba - the oil of unveiling. Caveat - this is a powerful oil that can bring up long buried emotions. I recommend using copaiba for emotional healing support later on, after we have spent some time committed to our healing and the obstacles mentioned above seem to be holding us back.

My invitation to you as you keep rising in your healing journey is to intentionally create and commit to simple rituals that will magnify your hard work. Be patient, gentle, and loving with yourself as you heal. Keep going! It is so worth it, I promise.

Comment here or message me with your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!

*As with everything I share, I am not an expert. I am simply a woman on her own healing journey sharing my ever deepening and expanding Truth.

**My suggestions and recommendations are based on doTERRA essential oils. Here's why.

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