Journey to Consciousness: False Beliefs About Healing
I think one of the most unfortunate misconceptions about emotional healing is that it’s a painless journey.
Quite the opposite. Healing our deepest wounds and trauma means having to go through them. Whatever we avoid or resist will persist. It will find a way to surface until it’s seen. When ignored, it may show up as addiction, dysfunction in relationships, or physical illness/aliments.
Before unpacking this further, let’s explore the meaning behind the word “consciousness”.
The word “consciousness” came into my own awareness when I began my masters program in art therapy and counseling. It was the overarching philosophy of the program I attended.
The idea, at first, was very foreign to me. I didn’t understand how it applied to what I was studying via psychotherapy or the human mind. I understood the word “unconscious”, which to me, means “not awake”. So, clearly the definition of consciousness then means the opposite--“awake”.
And how does consciousness then relate to our emotional health?
To be conscious with ourselves and our emotional health, is to be awake and aware of our psyche. To understand our triggers and why we behave, react, and interact in the ways we do. Having this understanding can allow us to understand ourselves in a deeper way.
We can begin to understand why we do what we do and learn healthy ways to change those programmed, unfulfilling behaviors and patterns we all have.
And how we begin to identify those triggers and behaviors within ourselves is by embarking in deep self-study. Maybe this is with a trusted professional like a therapist. Maybe it’s reading books, meditating, or going on a spiritual retreat. Likely, it’s a combination of many things.
And that path looks unique to each individual.
However, the road to healing isn’t all daisies and unicorns. When we think of spiritual or emotional healing, we tend to get an image in our mind of a warm, glowy, light. We may imagine ourselves as being healed when we’re “perfect”. When we have the perfect body, attitude, health, relationships, career, etc.
I’m about to drop some major truth on y’all, that you probably already know deep down in your soul.
This belief that healing means being perfect is toxic. Because it’s unrealistic and impossible.
We don’t seek healing to seek perfection. We seek healing to live with more love, joy, compassion, peace, abundance and whatever-else-you-want-to-fill-in-the-blank-with. Healing is a way to cultivate more light in our life.
Healing can look like choosing to have healthier boundaries with our family when we struggle with that. Healing can look like choosing to go outside for a walk instead of emotionally binge eating. Healing can simply be naming our feelings in a given moment.
It doesn’t necessarily look like this grandiose life altering moment. Rather it’s cumulative small steps and changes over the course of time than can help us cultivate a deeper level of healing.
Having more light in our life means uncovering the shadow. And the shadow we all have can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful. We have to process, acknowledge, and honor the trauma, wounding, and pain we’ve experienced in our lives in order to heal those parts of ourselves. It’s certainly not always an easy task but very necessary if we want to truly heal and understand ourselves on an intricate level.
Many people think they can bypass processing the tough stuff in their own healing. And that’s where many people discover disappointment. They may wonder why they feel stuck and can’t seem to get out of the same patterns or cycles. And it’s because they aren’t truly looking at the root of what’s creating suffering.
I’ve seen this happen many times with clients on private retreats. And I’ve personally experienced it myself. Individuals that have been doing the work for years in therapy or on their own but are still seeing a lot of the same results or patterns in their life.
With clients, we end up gently diving into the deep end to identify the root. And that can mean facing some discomfort and difficult truths sometimes.
I don’t say this to scare anyone from finding true healing in their life.
I say this to keep it real because had I understood this long ago, it probably would have made things a hell of a lot easier in my own healing at times. And because I personally believe that this path of healing can lead us to truer contentment and fulfillment.
We get to have richer relationship with ourselves and with others when we do our work.
It feels ever so appropriate to finish this post off with a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:
“Most people are afraid of suffering. But suffering is a kind of mud to help the lotus flower of happiness grow. There can be no lotus flower without the mud.”