The art of healing is on my mind today.
Both personally and collectively, 2020 has been a year where many deep wounds have come to light. There is a call in the air for healing at the moment, but what exactly should that path of healing look like? Any genuine healing process must begin with an honest acknowledgment of the wound. Whether we’re talking about a cut to the skin, a wounding of the heart, or the trauma of oppression, no honest healing can occur until we acknowledge and honor the fact that a wounding has taken place.
I know this seems like an obvious point, but I often see many people - in both political & spiritual circles - that seem to want to skip right to the healing without this basic step of acknowledgment.
I see this pattern most strongly among people whose message is focused on a contemptuous rejection of any form of “victim mentality.”
Now, there is truth to the idea that we can become so fixated on our wounds that it leads to a paralysis and a forgetting - we stay stuck in our wounding, having forgotten the strength and beauty that resides within us.
But in my judgment, I see many of these anti-victim mentality advocates - whether they be political pundits or spiritual leaders - as possessing an extremely black-and-white vision of the world and human psychology.
In their rush to get people out of their victim mentality, they bypass the wound altogether and label any discussion of the wounding as being “stuck in the past” or “stuck in your victimhood.”
I was actually on a first date once with a fellow spiritual coach who explained to me that she never shows any sympathy or compassion for her client’s wounds or traumas because all that accomplishes is helping them stay in their victimhood.
In my own coaching practice, I couldn’t imagine not holding compassion for my client’s wounds. In fact, it is precisely that compassionate space that allows my clients to speak honestly of their wounds (often for the first time) and begin an authentic journey towards healing them.
Needless to say, I didn’t ask that woman out on a second date.
In my work with clients, I believe it is essential to create a space to look at their wounds honestly. We want to understand how they operate, how they feel in the body, when & why they become triggered, and strategies for processing them.
It’s only when our wounds are fully seen that we can walk a path of genuine healing.
This is true of individuals, but also true of nations.
From that place of acknowledgment, we can move consciously out of our paralysis and truly begin to remember the light within us. And when the darkness of our wounding returns (and it will), we will know how to spot it, process it, and keep walking the path of healing with integrity.
But if all this deep work is simply labelled as “staying in your victimhood”, our wounding will remain a mystery to us. When that wounding is triggered, it will therefore have more power over us, not less, because we never did the work to understand it.
I do acknowledge that in this process of healing it is possible to swing so far in the direction of compassion and empathy that a client could potentially stay stuck in their wounding. I understand that healers must sometimes be firm as well as loving.
Ultimately, I am advocating a balanced approach - one that honors both the wound and the human being who is so much larger than their wound.
I believe it is this balanced path that is behind the archetype of the Wounded Healer - a healer who is highly effective at healing precisely because they have a thorough knowledge of their own wounds.
I think an accompanying archetype could also be a Wounded Warrior - a warrior who knows what is worth fighting for and defending precisely because they know what it is like to be hurt or unsafe. It is that touch of humanity that allows us to channel our archetypal Warrior energy towards true heroism instead of mere aggression.
As President-Elect Joe Biden said last night, in quoting the book of Ecclesiastes, this is indeed “a time to heal.” I hope these thoughts will inspire you to start walking the path of authentic healing, for both your own heart and for this nation’s soul.