I have asked this question many times. I have asked it to friends, therapists, lovers, the universe, God, you name it. I have heard spiritual teachers talk about it, offering techniques for the “fast track” to spiritual enlightenment. I have tried really, really, hard to heal myself. And some of it has seemed to work. I am different than I was 10 years ago, that’s for sure. I am less likely to drink myself into a black out (extremely less likely!). I am more loving, open, and accepting of others and myself – at least half the time. I have done meditation retreats and followed all the rules, I have followed the instructions in yoga class to the best of my ability, I see opportunities to grow and learn in the most mundane situations.
So I have done healing “right,” the most right way I can imagine. As I said before it seemed to work, but not completely. One of the most profound moments of insight I’ve ever had was when I realized I try to hard! For me, my actual growth edge is in not trying, not trying to change myself. I’m a good trier, hard worker, and rule follower. I want the prize at the end of the road where I have given my all and I’m rewarded with some love, praise, or entrance into heaven.
This has been my journey into healing, one where I had to learn my unique lesson. If I was someone who couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, froze up when there was some action to be taken, or gave up after one setback my lesson might be to keep going: To keep going one step at a time and build up inner resources to sustain through longer challenges. But conversely with that style it would be easy to know how to relax, let go, surrender, and try less - lessons that have been difficult for me to learn given my “try hard” attitude.
We each have our own path of healing, and a huge part of the journey is to learn the mechanisms of what we do. Not why we do the painful action or why we think the painful thoughts, but how we do it. How do you put yourself down? How do you go from one painful relationship to another? How do you blow up at work, what exactly is it like? In really experiencing how I tried to heal myself I came face to face with my belief that I am something to be fixed, something that is broken and unworthy until it is healed. This was painful to see but vitally necessary to stop hindering myself from loving myself just as I am, which was really what I always wanted – to just feel ok in my skin. The healing I always wanted was the opposite of what I was doing, go figure!
Hold loosely the question of how long it will take to heal. Know that something you have been doing for 20, 30, 40 years might take more than an afternoon or a couple therapy sessions. Realize that while you are trying to work on some part of your life, like that funny (or scary) feeling in your stomach that comes up when you get close to another person, something else profound may be happening. This thing you want to change or go away may never conform to your wishes, but it may lead you somewhere even better. I personally would love to have that funny feeling in my stomach go away or that tightness in my chest to never return. But since they have been sticking around in various forms I have learned about love, vulnerability, and how to be with others when there is just no way out of the pain. Sometimes pain is just like that, at times there is no way out of it no matter how much you distract or push through, it's just not letting you go till it's ready.
Get curious about your relationship to healing, what it is supposed to look like, what stories or narratives you are draw to, and question it all. You’re inclinations are not all wrong, and not all right. This process can be full of pitfalls and confusing times, seek out someone who can accompany you and offer guidance, or presence, when you are unsure about the next step. We all need the support, and it might even speed the process up!
Karolina Walsh Psychotherapy
Providing psychotherapy, counseling, and support for grief, addictions, trauma, PTSD, relationship issues, and GLBTQIA.
“Karolina walks her talk, her ability to meet another in their capacities is sensational because she has done her own work” -Diane Israel
"An effective therapist needs to do at least two things: be compassionate and provide constructive feedback that actually changes the way people experience the world. I see many therapists who can do one or the other. I routinely watch Karolina do both..." -Patrick Weeg