The Anatomy of Healing
Updated: Dec 14, 2022
These practices will help you put it in the rearview
I've been in this game for awhile. Human emotion and behavior is my specialty, I've taken the time to know it inside and out and while there are still many mysteries that I've yet to crack, I'm getting a much better handle on how to heal. I have to believe that healing is something anyone and everyone is interested in, this is important to everyone. Their biggest barrier is usually worthiness and personal worth. They don't see themselves as deserving of healing and yet I know that we can work around it. Perhaps you don't have to entirely convince yourself that you deserve it before you make some steps to find healing. Even if twenty percent of you is okay with the notion of deserving it, we should work with that twenty percent.
How big is that part of you that is okay with moving forward with healing? Give it a number. Pin it down. Hold onto it. It will serve you well going forward.
I am convinced that we all endure childhood trauma. I even think that it goes far beyond that. I would argue that our society is built on a culture of child abuse. Perhaps we're in this major state of deterioration because we don't ever really get honest enough with ourselves and each other about how traumatic and abusive our society is towards children and how little we do about it. Childhood kicks the crap out of us, plain and simple. If any of us come out in one piece than we are one of the lucky ones. Childhood trauma can come in the form of parental abandonment or the absence of a healthy parent. It can come from a parent that controls us or goes heavy handed on us. We acquire trauma when our choices are taken from us and when our strong wills are broken for lower values like obedience and compliance. Perhaps our parents left us home alone with a sibling that physically harmed us. Whatever the case might be, we need to find a way to healing and putting it behind us.
A lot of people talk as though mental illness can never go away. I not only disagree but I think that we people a tremendous disservice by placing limitations into their psyche by convincing them that they can't heal or get better. That mental illness will always be the demon that walks with them. It's such an ugly thing to do and just another testament how abusive we are towards each other. Though it's probably not going to be easy, it is possible to heal and put it behind you. You must understand this. It takes time and diligence but it can be done.
I have found it to be tremendously important as a practitioner to not only instill a sense of hope in people but to always encourage people to look beyond what they believe is possible as the stumble through a troubling culture built on being fixated and obsessed with limitations and mediocrity. The first step to finding healing is simply to start resting your mental gaze on where you want to go and what you want to be true for you. I realize that people don't know how to heal or there would be much more of them doing it. The first step is to set your sights on a road of healing and adopting a mindset of healing and learning. It's a crucial first step that will help you open yourself to possibility and hopefully help release you from being attached to what hasn't worked for you.
"I will seek and find the right answers wherever they might be. I will keep my mind open to any and ever right answer that comes my way. I will abandon everything that has failed to help me heal so far."
I always encourage my clients to adopt a mindset and an idea of learning, changing and healing and they always want to know how long it will take. How long until they find healing or even happiness? The answer is... as long as it takes. Every person, every situation, every set of life experiences is different. If it takes a decade, it takes a decade. What else do you have going on that will be worth this much of your time?
There is no better feeling than wellness and happiness. I believe that our deepest purpose and desire is to be happy which is something that I see as a combination of many important elements including being actively engaged in our own healing. When you actively working at it, they bleed into all other areas of your life in a positive way. A healthy, happy and well person has greater clarity for what is needed in their relationships, for example. The various facets of their life thrive because they're able to bring their best to it. It's kind of like giving nutrient rich water to plants rather than water that's polluted and contaminated. If you're unhealed, you will likely bring destruction to your life and your relationship. Whether you believe you are worthy or deserving becomes far less relevant when you can broaden your perspective and see the bigger picture. It's not just how it impacts you but also your world. Whether you want to believe it or not, it's also a gift of love for the people in your life.
Other than adopting a mindset of growth and healing, what other elements are needed? In no particular order, the anatomy of healing includes...
Acceptance and letting go - This is probably one of the most crucial but most challenging steps. You must learn to accept and let go. So many people get bogged down in therapy with disappointing results because of how much time is wasted rehashing and "processing" things that don't need to be processed. The real work is acceptance and letting go. I wish I had a good step by step instruction book on how to do this exactly. There's simply a shift in the mind that has to take place and when it does, the person can find themselves feeling totally free from so much that had previously held them captive. Acceptance is simple coming to the understanding that something cannot be changed, no matter how badly the person might want it. That deep realization can be a real game changer but you can't make it happen, it works when you let things go. There are some mental and meditation exercises that can help move the process along but acceptance and letting go is extremely healing. It's through this step that we allow old things to die and go on their way which makes room in our lives for something new and better. There is truly a part of us that wants
Setting and holding firm on boundaries - It's hard to heal when people are still trampling through your yard so to speak. We often feel a lack of confidence in our ability to accomplish things, especially in regards to our personal growth, as long as disrespectful people selfishly march through our garden and take advantage of us.
Facing painful and difficult things - There's a bit of wisdom that more people should hear and understand, it's basically that pain is necessary but suffering is not. By avoiding pain, we choose and guarantee misery and even suffering. We naturally avoid pain and move away from it. It's a self-preservation tactic but at some point it's important to stop surviving and start healing. Those emotional injuries need care and attention. You can't heal if you avoid tending to that which needs care. A good therapist provides a place of safety, trust and support. It's a highly vulnerable process but a necessary one if a person wants to heal.
Self-care - We talk about self-care and hear about self-care a lot but it really is important to do what is good for yourself. It's so important to take time for yourself just to do what's healthy. It can be as simple as taking walks outside and getting sunlight and physical movement. It can be as simple as reading a book instead of scrolling through social media. Self-care is putting self-love into practice. It's important to learn and put into practice how to be good to yourself and learn how to give yourself the love and care that you haven't been able to get in your life before.
Grief, sadness and mourning - Most people avoid feeling things like sadness and grief. They are highly vulnerable emotions. Sadness especially has been painted in a bad light. Sadness is a healthy and normal emotion. It's good for you to allow yourself the experience of sadness even though it can be extremely uncomfortable. Healing can't happen without it. Grief is an important part of accepting and letting go. It's a healthy process that allows you to put things in the rearview. People tell me all of the time that they are just waiting for it to go away and waiting to just "get over it." I'm sorry to break it to you but this isn't a thing. You don't just get over it, it doesn't go away. You have to work through it and if you don't it will always haunt you from the shadows of your deep inner psyche. Forgiveness is also one of those things that can be enormously healing and also falls under the acceptance and letting go category.
Creativity - Some of the best writing, art and music have come from some our tortured souls. The older I get and the more healthy that I get on a personal level the more I see the importance and necessity of doing things on a creative level and self-expression through creative mediums. Creativity has a cathartic nature to it which just means that it's an effective way to release stored up angst and emotion. Creativity can have a way of pulling things out that are buried deep and might otherwise be difficult to access. Being creative is also a way to have fun and engage in self-care.
Humor, laughter and fun - It's important to engage in the type of fun that's good for you. There's healthy fun and unhealthy fun. Getting excessively drunk, staying out all night and eating junk food isn't going to get you anywhere. Those types of things come with a toll, they don't replenish you, they're taxing on your body. Think healthy fun not stressful fun. A campfire under the stars, for example, with your closest friends or family members is closer to what I'm talking about. Humor and laughter is so healthy and so good for us. We need joy in our lives and our modern culture has sucked us dry of pure fun and joy. Our daily routines of living are bleak, to say the least. I'm honestly sugar coating it, it's far worse than bleak and we need some fun and joy. Humor allows us to laugh at our pain. Show me a person that can't laugh at their misfortune and struggles and I'll show you someone that is steeped deep in their own misery.
There's more to healing than this. It's honestly a process. Life truly is about making an infinite number of course corrections. You have to be persistent and truly determined. When you fail and fall down, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep working at it.
The good news is that healing is possible. It's reasonable to assume that many people don't heal because they don't believe that it can be done but I'm certain that it can. The right answers exist and I am committed to help you find them, wherever they might be.