A Path to Healing

Do the most good.

I live my life by this.  How can I do the most good for the most people possible? But here’s the thing: if you really want to show up and put some magic in the world, you’ve got to be on the path of healing yourself. The doing good has to start with doing good, helping, healing the self.

There is a limit to how much you can assist other people if you are hurting. I still feel there is such a stigma around feeling what most people would call negative emotions. Today I want to break some of that down.  Feel your feelings, the “good” ones and the “bad” ones. Sometimes I think we have been trained too well to be strong and brave. Showing emotions and having depth makes us weak. Asking for help means that somehow we are deficient. I see those behavioral patterns played out over and over again. This kind of social conditioning, at least in my own case, led to some really strong armor, but armor that didn’t quite work.  Things would get in. Thoughts and feelings that emphasized my weak spots got in. Nothing came out. You can imagine all of that noise bouncing around in a metal suit of armor.

I felt like I was trapped for a long time inside the implied expectations of the people around me.  I want to live in a world where it’s equally okay to feel sad, upset, hurt, angry as it is to be joyful, peaceful, filled with love, happy, calm. Our capacity to feel all of these things means we’re human.  We all go through lows and highs. We all live life and get a little or a lot hurt. So if we are letting ourselves fully experience the good and the bad, were going to need some tools to help us through the times when we get hurt.

If you’re feeling stuck at the bottom looking up at the small pin of light thinking how do I get more light in, this is for you. If you feel like you are stuck in though patterns and behavior patterns of hurt and want a path to healing, this is for you.

The path of healing is not linear. There will be days that are better than others.  There will be days when you are so consumed by the joy of living that you have no space to consider the hurt. There will also be days that suck terribly.  There will be days when it is all that you can do to try and make it through. No matter what kind of day it is, the bravest thing that we can do is bring every part of us to the table. So here are some ways to bring all of yourself into the same space and encounter discomfort and hurt with compassion and grace.

  1. Take yourself out of the situation. If you are constantly putting yourself in the circumstances to be hurt again, healing will be impossible. You keep picking at the barely formed scab.  Why would it heal? This is the hardest for me because I like to fix things. My brain says that if I just have a little more time or if I just do the right thing, it will be as if all of this never happened. There will never be a ‘right thing’ that will magically fix all hurts. Put some distance between you and the thing that is hurting you.  Sometimes that means physical distance. Almost always it includes mental distance. Give yourself some space and time away from the heightened stakes of needing to fix or involving yourself in the drama to see with more perspective how things unraveled. I usually put my phone and all my devices on DND when I need to take a step back. I take myself to a space where I can be by myself, close my eyes, and ask myself how my heart needs to be held.
  2. In the space you’ve created, discern how you feel. Gaining perspective is so crucial to healing. It gives you the opportunity to integrate the things you’ve learned in your heart and body into the things you’ve learned in your mind. Our eyes see what they believe and often times what we believe is not reality. Every email starts to have a million layers of subtext. Every text carries a double meaning. The mind will do the thing it does best and create stories around your feelings. In the midst of turmoil it can be hard to understand what led to the hurt. Maybe you feel blindsided. Maybe you feel a deep sense of injustice. Maybe you are just plain sad. Determine how you feel, which could be a bunch of different things all together, so that you can understand why you feel. A lot of magic starts to happen when we ask ourselves why. Inside of the why is all of the stories that we tell ourselves. Some are true, but very often the mind hijacks facts and turns them into self-defeating diatribes. Not useful at all. Getting real with yourself and understanding the actions or lack thereof that led to the hurt can start to calm the frenzy of thoughts and feelings. Putting language around the things that body and heart instinctively know helps to integrate those lessons into the mind. The mind needs to be taught what is true. When you ask why and you receive an answer, ask yourself if you know that answer to be true.
  3. Advocate for yourself. No one will stand up for you like you will.  No one knows how you feel like you do. Advocating for yourself can look like telling the other people involved why you’re upset or hurt. Advocating for yourself can look like choosing every day, especially on the hard ones, that you deserve sunshine. The hardest form of advocating for yourself is when you decide that you are worth more than the situation you were in and you choose to not go back. Choose your own wellbeing over everything else.
  4. Find a strong community of trusted friends to hold your heart when you can’t. Some days are really hard and you simply need to know that you are loved. No matter what is happening, a horrible conflict at work, a fight with a significant other, a feud with a sibling, a falling out with a parent, having another (or a few) human hold your heart when it’s weary is so important. Humans were made to find support, strength, and love in each other. Have your list of people who will give you a hug without needing to give you advice, who will offer their open hearts and open ears, but are also more than happy to sit with you in silence. Once you’ve done the inside work, let yourself feel the safety net of other humans who know what it is to be hurt and have your back no matter what.

In life, we are bound to get many scrapes and cuts and bruises. Each one is like a reminder that we’ve lived, perhaps a little recklessly, but with our whole selves.  So, when you find yourself in the midst of hurt, in the midst of our social conditioning to ignore or undervalue “negative emotions”, give yourself a beat. Find out what you can learn from the situation and then grow from it. No more armor. No more stigmas. Just a beautiful unraveling so that you can grow freely.