Healing is not the absence of pain. Healing means that your past is no longer a barrier to living the life that you want to live.
What is healing?
We have a pretty good idea of what physical healing means. It means that your wounds close up and no longer can become a source of infection; that you no longer feel significant pain; that you return to a prior level, or functional level, of movement and self-expression.
Sometimes your physical scars are much more than tissue and stitches. Memories of the pain that you experienced, the surgeries or the events that caused your injuries can linger well past the physical healing.
When I was younger, I had many ideas. A few of them are real and true, but most of them are just the surmising of a young man full of vinegar but lacking substance. One the beliefs that I had when I was younger is that healing means that you no longer feel any pain, you feel peace and blissful happiness.
I was wrong.
Healing your mind, your emotions may result in the closing of your wounds so that you won’t experience any new pain. In my experience, healing means that you can stop trying to erase your past, stop trying to feel nothing but peace about your past pains or past decisions.
Healing is not the absence of pain, but instead, healing means that your past (or your pain) is no longer a barrier to living the life that you want to live. Feel what you feel. Know yourself well enough to know what is important for you. Live out, and live from your values. Because healing means that there is never a guarantee that life will be pain-free. Healing means that you are free to live more of the life that you want to live despite feeling pain, anxiety, triggers, depression or memories that weigh heavily upon your mind.
Six principles of healing
Healing is not the absence of pain. Rather, healing is living out and living from your values. Despite physical or emotional pain, you can live a richer and fuller life than you ever imagined. Think of the following as six steps that you can take. They build upon each other, but you can begin at any point. Remember that any recommendations or advice that you receive from articles like this is no substitute for Counseling or Therapy.
1.Healing is being present with yourself more often than you are pulled by your emotions or moods, your triggers or your past.
2.Healing is having a reason. It means that you have values that help you to be present in your life, your relationships, your marriage, your work and your important creative efforts.
3.Healing is taking meaningful action. Despite how you feel, despite the hard days, despite having a story that can at times remind you of your past self and your pain. Actions do not need to be huge or effortful. You may not reach your goals, but you can still take small, daily actions to live out your values.
4.Healing is welcoming yourself in all of it’s parts: your present, your future and yes, your past. It means having an attitude of self-compassion.
5.Healing is being present with and in your relationships: not avoiding, nor obsessing, but investing in what and in who you care about.
6.Healing is building a life rather than merely avoiding the pain. It means accepting that you may fail, feel weak, be self-critical but you continue to build your better and fuller self.
Healing is not perfection. It is not being pain-free. It is not bliss and, no it may not lead to unending happiness.
Healing means that you don’t have to leave your past behind in order to move forward. You may still have the memories, but you are more than your memories or your pain. You make room for what is important to you, even though you struggle. You take small and persistent actions to improve your life and to live out your values. You allow yourself to struggle and to feel human, you don’t avoid or try to numb out. Instead, you invest in making your life better.
In short, healing is defined as acceptance. Acceptance does not mean settling, nor does it mean surrender or giving up. Acceptance means being willing to live out your life, one choice, one day at a time. It means that you are willing to feel your difficult and painful feelings. You make room for the feelings and the difficult experiences. Acceptance means that you may have triggers, you may still feel depressed, you may still feel anxiety or panic, or you may still have flashbacks. But, you also accept that you have choices that can make to live out your most important values. Acceptance is not avoidance or numbing, but instead you feel and you experience. And you also make choices to live out your meaningful values, one bit at a time.
If you want to read more about healing and acceptance, see the following articles:
I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.
Lastly, if you like my writing, you can click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.
Keep it Real
Photo by Southern Arkansas University