What Does It Take To Heal?
Thanks to modern technology and a great deal of research, we know more and more about what it takes to heal our deepest wounds. We know that the quality of the relationship between the therapist and the client matters. We know that we can’t analyze or talk our way through our trauma; we need to feel to heal, and we need to support the full sequences of movements and expressions that got stuck in the body during overwhelming and traumatic experiences. And, when it comes to our deepest wounds, titration, pendulation, and resonance are crucial pieces of the puzzle.
There are many other factors to healing trauma and several effective therapeutic modalities, but none of it matters without three essential qualities: humility, courage, and perseverance.
It takes humility to acknowledge that you have healing work to do. It takes humility to take a hard and honest look at yourself and admit that there are things you need to address from your past and your present. And it takes humility to admit you need help with your healing. I’m not referring to a self-deprecating type of humility. Rather, I’m referring to an honest assessment of the ways in which you might be pretending something is different than it is or of the ways you put yourself above others.
Courage does not mean fearlessness. Courage means having fear about something and doing it anyway. It takes courage, sometimes immense courage, to turn toward the things you’ve been running from for a long time. Courage is required to feel the things that were not safe or acceptable for you to feel during the painful events of your past. It can take all the courage (and humility) you’ve got to open up and receive support for vulnerable things, especially if you’ve built your entire sense of safety and self-esteem around being strong and self-sufficient.
Perseverance is simply the will to keep going, to keep showing up through the ups and downs of a healing journey, to keep doing more and more of the day-to-day things that help the healing along and less and less of the things that hold you back.
Having a purpose that is greater than just your own happiness can help when you’re struggling to find the humility, courage and perseverance. In an interview with Michael Pollan and Christopher Bache, Bache speaks about a particularly gruelling period of his 20-year healing journey with LSD. This was a period in which the healing that was happening was on behalf of humanity, and knowing this helped Bache persevere.
It was recently suggested to me that not everyone is meant to do healing work. Whether or not that is true, I believe that the more of us that commit to our healing work, the better. Healing our wounds allows us to be our most empowered, creative, courageous, and compassionate selves. And those are qualities that the world needs now.