Healing isn’t an event; it is a process that takes place over time in our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual inner world. We are all gifted with an innate ability to heal ourselves; our mind-body is constantly striving to return to homeostasis or balance.
“Healers” do not heal you. They assist in getting you to a place where healing can begin, and they continue to hold space to facilitate your growth. Healers work in collaboration with you, but for much of your lifetime, YOU are your healer! It is your choice whether you actively participate by doing your own work outside any recovery space such as therapy.
The Paradox of Healing
There is a conscious part of the mind that desires change. This is evident in actions such as going to therapy, reading self-help books, working out, or making lifestyle changes. Yet there is an unconscious part that finds change to be threatening because change is uncertain. Although we consciously desire change, we may also unconsciously fear it and resist the process. This is the “Paradox of Healing.”
Therapists are met with different forms of resistance all the time – even from their most dedicated clients. Perhaps you’ve started dozens of self-help books but are yet to finish one, you find it almost impossible to approach what you fear, maybe you work out hard but end up binging later in the day, you end up in a trauma bond again, or you still can’t set boundaries with that one friend. Ironically, the biggest threat is often a strong feeling of vitality as our positive actions begin moving us forward.
Emotions are Paradoxical Too
Our minds strive toward solutions, and our feelings simply want to be released through deep cries and belly laughs. In the therapy room, patients find it challenging to swing between and find balance with seemingly conflicting emotions, yet we must learn to hold the tension of the opposites. Learning to sit inside the grey (as opposed to the black and white) is where growth happens.
- You can feel angry about your parents’ mistakes AND still love them and maintain a relationship with them.
- You can feel happy AND sad when you finally receive the love and care you deserve.
- You can feel both excited AND fearful when something wonderful happens in your life, especially if you are accustomed to challenges.
Feeling intense and conflicting emotions such as anger, resentment, grief, sadness, joy, relief, and others is a normal part of your healing work. Being with and containing your emotions is at the core of healing. Feeling a range of emotions is healthy. We are meant to ride them like waves; we aren’t meant to live in one emotion long term.
Paradox Challenges to Try Out
To build resilience and feel vitality, we must first acknowledge the stunning accomplishments it took to get us thus far. Then we need to push in a direction that may feel contradictory at first. Play with the practices below and see what emerges:
- Become more forgiving toward ourselves – and – hold ourselves to higher and higher standards.
- Become more understanding of other people’s difficulties – and – become more firm in how they’re allowed to treat us.
- Deepen our understanding of how our pasts have harmed and limited us – and – strive to use that less and less as an excuse, focusing less and less of our attention there.
The Ultimate Paradox: The Wisdom is in the Wound
There are many beautiful parts in our journey of self-exploration, but perhaps the most beautiful is discovering the infinite wisdom that lies within our wounds. Check out this conversation with Shannon Jenkins, where we discuss some of the lessons I learned through adversity and how we can all gain valuable lessons through hardships.
Use the phrase “June gloom” or “June bloom” to remember to lean into the grey – the paradox of healing, emotions, and change. Wishing you a wonderful month ahead!