I feel kind of like that about the concept of top-down healing, which I'll explain in a moment. "Top-down" healing is a norm in how we think about personal growth that's so built-in to our way of thinking that we may not even think there could be anything else.
A top-down approach to change is one where you look at the problem or goal, decide how you'd like to behave in order to get to where you want to be, and then you implement that plan.
As an example, a top-down approach to managing anxiety might be to take 10 deep breaths every time you feel anxious. Your body is having an anxiety response, but your mind steps in, takes charge, and works to redirect that anxious energy.
Think about any problem you might have, in particular with emotions, communication, or how you react to life. I bet as you think about how you'd like to solve it, you're almost always thinking about how you'd like to behave differently, and coming up with strategies to make sure you behave that way.
That's top-down, and it's great! There are a lot of top-down strategies that work really well, and are invaluable to know how to use.
It's not the only way, and I think it's useful to know when we have other options. In this case, there's another approach. Let's call it the bottom-up approach.
What's a bottom-up approach? Essentially, rather than using the mind to try and affect your body and behavior, you start with an awareness of the body with the intention to support the mind.
A bottom-up approach can take more work up front, but can save you a lot of effort and will power down the line.
Going back to the anxiety example: Suppose you know that every couple weeks you find yourself feeling anxious. Your heart starts pounding, your body releases cortisol, and your fight-or-flight system starts kicking in.
You have the top-down tricks up your sleeve should you start getting anxious, but that whole process isn't very fun. What it you want to reduce the frequency with which you get anxious in the first place? Or reduce the intensity?
A bottom-up approach could look like this: On a day when you're not feeling particularly stressed, you might take some time to notice what feels good in your body. Where are you feeling settled? What feels comfortable, enjoyable, or at ease?
This might be difficult at first, but over days or weeks of practice, taking a couple minutes here and there, you may start finding it easier and easier to find those pleasant, safe sensations.
By tracking with your pleasant body experience, you're actually creating new brain pathways, indicating to your brain that pleasant, safe experiences are actually important and worth paying attention.
Now, because you've built this foundation of enjoyable awareness, your body has a new resource next time it's feeling anxious. Perhaps it will still get anxious, but maybe now it has an easier pathway out of anxiety. Or maybe you'll notice the anxiety, but your connection to the pleasurable sensations can temper the intensity of the discomfort just a little bit.
This is just one example of what a bottom-up process could look like. And it's not always intuitive in our culture.
However, if you can start asking the question: "How could I support my body in being able to handle this problem, without needing a direct intervention from my mind?" then you may slowly start collecting strategies that can make you more and more resilient and adaptable, and over time perhaps you'll find yourself referring to that list of top-down tools less and less.