The chicken or the egg in healing
Do we feel better when we do better or do we do better when we feel better and what to focus on first?
There is a famous Einstein quote that goes something like "You can't solve a problem from the state of mind of the problem." When that is applied to depression or anxiety, it would inherently imply that we have to change our state to be able to do better. This seems to be a foundational principle of traditional psychology as well, to work on the problem and understand it so you can move beyond it, and then... you are ready for life to go better. The result is a life being lived sort of "on hold" or minimally less that what it's potential could be until you feel better.
But then there is the external rewards that naturally help us feel better. Winning that race after being committed to hard training, losing weight and feeling happier with one's self, or even a new relationship or venture that at the beginning stages is so exciting and full of possibilities that all the problems seem to fade into the background. The challenge with this is that the limitations still exist within, and will rear their ugly head as soon as they are triggered. That might be something like a lost opportunity, a shift in the relationship or the gaining of 5 pounds. Wham, the depression and negativity comes running back. External rewards alone don't stick and they don't help us learn to be in control of our own destiny.
So what is the answer to living more freely? What is the area of focus, feeling or doing?
Integration and fluidity are the answer.
First, there is no "there". When we are in a low state, there is no permanent fix that will keep us from returning to a low state. It's a natural flow. Just like a roller coaster, we go up to go down and without one or the other, we flatline!
So a quest for "there" has structural failure. We need those paradoxes of up and down to literally have up and down!
Thus if we can shift to a different paradigm of the roller coaster, we can be more confident, trusting and knowing, and in the thrill of the ride all the time. The thrill of the all aspects of the ride are the actual "There".
A really enlightened state of being, probably the highest state is one of non resistance. When the roller coaster is going down the hill, we can be excited, because it is an indication of the the exciting next rise up the hill! I call it the rightness in the wrongness. What is seeming a challenge or a set back, is a portal for growth and learning. When we grow and learn, we evolve, and live at a higher capacity for joy and creativity!
As well, integrating, is being in full experience while being aware of our emotional state. The world's OS works like that. We can't see an outcome exactly from a starting point and in fact an outcome is always better when we can leave it open ended. The integration lies in a focus on the process of creating, working towards what I call a catalyst goal.
A catalyst goal, is something that gets us started to reach for, but that we leave wide open to what will actually occur. It's the ignition for our learning and accomplishing and the playground for our mental and emotional evolvement. We can't evolve just thinking. The only true knowledge is experience. That's where in my opinion, Psychology fails. It's all in the mind and leaves out the learning of experience.
So to answer the original question, is healing optimal in doing better or feeling better, the answer is neither. Healing is optimal in feeling better while you are on a quest of doing better. Healing lies in upgrading your OS during the process of being in action. It is an integration and learned fluidity while in action toward something you desire.
Let's call it something that aligns with both integration and thinking or beingness. Let's call it flow, being wide open to learning, finding one's best path of least resistance, and fully capable of riding the emotional roller coaster because we know from experience that the down's are just an indication of the ups that are about to occur!