We All Need HealingMar 16, 2022
We all need to heal from something: the wounds of a difficult childhood, adolescent rejection, failed relationships, unrealized dreams, health difficulties, loneliness, guilt, self-injury, the cruel words or actions of someone (or of many people) who cut us to the quick, maybe once upon a time or maybe yesterday.
We all need to heal from something, and as complex human beings with unique backgrounds and needs, we all define healing in slightly different ways. And that’s fine. Healing, as I’ve come to know it, is individual and multifaceted.
You and I can disagree on how to best reach healing, but the one thing that I don’t believe is up for debate is the fact that healing must be pursued by all of us.
Whether our most troubling ailments are physical, emotional, or psychological (and many are all three), we can’t simply sweep them under the proverbial rug indefinitely. It doesn’t pay to forever dwell on our pain, but that pain must be acknowledged and tended to in some healthy way, or it can eat us alive.
Our illnesses, emotional wounds, and mental ruts can be challenging, but they don’t have to consume us. They don’t have to fester forever; and as I’ve said many times in my past blog posts and videos (and because I’m a writer), I believe that our pain can even be seen as valuable fodder and used to create beautiful and productive things.
Many of you who read my blog posts and newsletters are trying to find healing from prescription drug withdrawal (i.e., antidepressant withdrawal and/or benzodiazepine withdrawal), but not all of you are in such a situation, and even those in withdrawal are in need of broader healing, so today I’m going to address healing in a general way—a way that applies to all of us.
I’ve recently found a few very thought-provoking and insightful quotes about healing, so I’m going to present those quotes to you and then discuss their meaning a bit. I hope that you find this post helpful as you work to heal, grow, and generally discover greater peace, happiness, and excitement in your life this summer and beyond.
We all need to heal from something. Are you ready to reach for your healing in a deeper way?
“Healing takes courage, but we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.” Tori Ames
Healing isn’t effortless. But then again, the things worth having usually require some effort to obtain. Twenty-five years ago, when I was a high-schooler attending basketball camp at the University of Michigan, there was a coach (okay, several coaches) who used to get pretty intense with us fresh-faced campers. These coaches would bark commands (and occasionally encouragement) at us players as we ran ourselves to exhaustion in the mid-summer heat day after day. I can remember the words of one coach in particular (I believe he was an assistant on that U of M men’s team that went to the Final Four with Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and the rest of the Fab Five).
After one morning of particularly intense drills, that assistant coach addressed our cherubic and rosy little faces thusly: “You’re doing what you have to do to get ahead!” he said to us. “While your friends are sitting at home this summer and eating Doritos and watching TV, you’re here putting in the work. Yeah, it isn’t easy, but if it was easy, damnit, everyone would be doing it!”
If it was easy everyone would be doing it.
Healing and self-improvement aren’t effortless, and guess what, not everyone out there who is wounded is trying to heal. It isn’t easy, so everyone isn’t trying to do it. Some people are simply content (but not really) to exist in a half-alive state—hurt and bitter, or simply checked-out spiritually. And because certain people haven’t found healing for themselves, they go around hurting others. We’ve all seen it.
But that isn’t what you and I want for ourselves. We want healing; we want healing from whatever our deepest illnesses and injuries are, and therefore we have to be willing to put in a little work. God and time do a lot of healing work, but we have a crucial role to play in our own recuperation and progress as well.
So, I will say this to you today: “You’re doing what you have to do right now to heal. Just by reading this blog post, you’re engaging with a process. While others are complaining and wallowing and giving themselves over to hopelessness and thoughts of how they might hurt others (maybe while eating Doritos), you’re putting in the work needed to move forward! You’re putting in the work necessary to find a better life that helps you and those around you. It isn’t easy, but if it was easy, damnit, everyone would be doing it! Not everyone is doing it, but you are! So congratulations! Keep at it!”
The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.
How often does your mind complicate, or even work to sabotage, your happiness? How often does it get in the way of your healing? Maybe you’ve come a long way since some past injury or challenge knocked you down, but maybe at times some obnoxious corner of your mind chimes in to diminish what you’ve accomplished. Maybe it says, “Yeah, but you’ve still got a loonnggg way to go, man! You really haven’t improved that much at all.”
Or maybe when you’re enjoying a moment of peace or inspiration, some rabblerousing misfit in that same corner of your mind tries to stir up anxiety or guilt or endless unproductive commentary. Anything to shatter the enjoyment that you’ve found—anything to get in the way of your healing. That is the “monkey mind.” That is the lying mind. That is something that needs to be put in check.
Learn to silence your mind, and your healing will increase.
"Healing is not an overnight process. It is a daily cleansing of pain, it is a daily healing of your life.” Leon Brown
We all want overnight success. We would all love overnight fixes. However, the most challenging circumstances of our lives usually aren’t created overnight, and neither are their resolutions instant.
While this post isn’t specifically about antidepressant withdrawal or benzodiazepine withdrawal, I think that this sort of “marathon-not-sprint” idea is so specifically applicable to those situations. The withdrawal syndrome that I encountered after ceasing my long-term Paxil and Xanax use was protracted—it was a years-long process with many hills and valleys and storms. And so often during that process I longed for an overnight fix. However, eventually I realized that the quest for overnight fixes is what led me to take the damned Paxil and Xanax in the first place. On the contrary, true good health is about consistent self-care and real measures of self-improvement that dig deep. Real healing is about walking an every-day journey that builds on itself over time.
This year might be rough for you in some respects, but if you make it your goal to take many consistent, small steps aimed at finding better health and happiness, then things will get progressively better for you as summer turns into fall and fall to winter, guaranteed.
“Healing is a matter of time, but it is also a matter of opportunity.” Hippocrates
So many people wait for time to do all the work when it comes to healing. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Time heals all wounds,” and while there is much truth to that phrase, it should be amended to say, “Time heals all wounds to an extent; but our own efforts are needed to finish the job.”
Whether we are suffering from grief, low self-esteem, guilt, financial injury, physical injury, emotional injury, or that ill-understood injury known as prescription drug withdrawal, there is an active component to our healing. So, what does that active component involve? Well, that is an individual question with individual answers. It depends on the particulars of a given person’s situation, but it might involve: therapy, counseling, or coaching; physical and mental exercise; a change in environment; the undertaking of certain creative projects; spiritual activity; and social activity.
Identify your opportunities and take advantage of them.
Healing is not linear.
This can be a frustrating idea, because when we make progress in healing, we tend to expect that a new baseline of existence has been reached, one that will never again revert to old pains or frustrations. But guess what? Healing is about the big picture—the overall trajectory of the progress—and within that big picture (the one that is moving in the right direction!), there are going to be occasional rough days and even occasional dances with uncomfortable symptoms or frustrations that we thought we’d left behind.
Again, this nonlinear nature of healing is such a common frustration in antidepressant withdrawal and benzodiazepine withdrawal, but it is by no means specific to that sort of healing. When people are working through chronic anxiety, depression, self-image wars, or the demons of a difficult past, there are going to be down days that lead to frustration (maybe these days are caused by excessive stress at times). There are going to be days when people say, “My efforts have been for nothing! I haven’t made any progress at all!.” But those are just “feelings,” and the reality is that the progress of the big picture is still very much intact.
Never be fooled by your down days! That is the trick of it all. Never be fooled by the nonlinear zig-zags of long-term progress and healing. Just accept them, and remember that your overall trajectory is forever onward and upward. You’re making great progress.
"We do not heal the past by dwelling there. We heal the past by living fully in the present.” Marianne Williamson
The wounds of the past ought to be processed, but that doesn’t mean we have to live forever in their gloomy presence. Work to process your past pain, and then move on from it. If you’ve been injured in the past, then learn from those injures. And if you’ve felt pain in the past, then use that pain as fuel to accomplish something great with your present and with your future. And never feel guilty for simply enjoying yourself. Getting “lost” in the present moment is in itself a great healer (and a great sign of healing).
"All healing has a spiritual component.” Michael S. Priebe
Okay, surely someone else has said this over the years, but it is a philosophy I subscribe to, and it is an idea that has guided my own healing efforts over time. I recently wrote an entire blog post about the spiritual nature of healing, so in this post I will keep the commentary on this idea short and sweet. I will simply say that there is no facet of our mental and emotional well-being that can’t be helped by the love of God and by all of the personal and existential implications of that love. If you currently have a deep cut in your heart or an unfathomable worry on your mind, then reach out to spiritual places to find healing.
“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” Herbert H. Humphrey
In sports they say that winning covers a multitude of sins, and I believe that when it comes to healing, friendship and love can soothe a million pains. I mean think about it: when are you usually more focused on your pain and problems? Is it when you are gathered with friends or family and feeling loved, or is it when you are along and feeling isolated with your challenges?
Oftentimes, it is that very worry that we are the “only ones” experiencing pain that leads to a worsening of it. So, even if you feel the inexplicable urge to “suffer in silence” at times, remember to fight against isolation. Remember to reach out to others: for a phone call, through an email, for a coffee, for a movie, whatever. If you can find a few moments of friendship and love in your day, you will find healing.
Spending time in nature is healing energy.
There is something about being outdoors, especially if there is sunshine involved, that can soothe our pain and make us feel grateful, peaceful, and optimistic. There is something about being “trapped” indoors—whether in an office or at home—that can play tricks on our minds and dull our souls. There is something about being trapped indoors—often sitting in front of computer or phone screens—that can make us feel, little by little, as if we were losing our humanity and losing our minds. As if our healing journey is stalled.
Do you want to make your problems seem smaller? Then step into the vast theater of the outdoors. Watch the unburdened souls of animals as they go about their daily business at a park or in the woods. Ponder the magnificent lifeforce of the various flowers, plants, trees, grasses, and mosses. Look out at a body of water and allow yourself to be hypnotized and healed. Feel a spiritual connection with the all of those aspects of nature, and with the wind and with the vivifying rays of sunshine that push new energy onto and under your skin.
Get into nature today and feel the healing.
There is only one thing that can prevent healing, and that is succumbing to negativity. Embrace positivity to find more healing.
I was in a pretty negative place for a while when I was going through my Paxil withdrawal and then my Xanax withdrawal. But I consistently worked to bring myself to a better place: through goal-setting, creative work, exercise, reading, talking, etc., I worked hard to avoid succumbing to negativity.
When we are hurting, it can at first be difficult to avoid the strangely alluring grips of negativity, but as we make one conscious choice to engage with positivity and then another, we begin to loathe negativity. And positivity becomes a habit and a lifeforce that draws us closer and closer.
In my opinion, negativity is a scourge; it is the worst of all plagues. It can ruin a good day, it can make a bad situation worse, and it can even erode a person’s potential. Make no mistake about it: negativity ruins people.
Negativity and constant self-pity can absolutely possess people, possess them like a demon and make them sicker and more filled with vile. I’ve seen it first-hand.
When perpetually negative people are confronted with positivity, they recoil in anger and pain. And then they lash out at others in order to release some of their own hurt. But it is never enough, because the hole in the heart—the place where hope needs to be—is never able to be filled by stuffing it with more blackness.
Especially when we are in an emotionally vulnerable place, it can be easy to become ensnared by negativity. I believe that we can all go to negative places from time to time, but the trick is to recognize where we are stepping into such dangerous territory and reverse courses. And to begin actively seeking out positivity instead.
If you are currently making progress in your life and finding measures of healing, then you need to be aware that there will always exists a few negative people out there who are looking to drag you down. Because that is what negative people do. Misery loves company. Negativity works to validate hopelessness. Miserable people like to find a perverse semblance of “joy” by hurting others.
So beware of negativity and those who are selling it! Take care of your own psychological and emotional health by being watchful. Never be afraid to shut negativity down. Never be afraid to ignore pessimism. Never be afraid to walk away from people—or ideas—that are dragging you down instead of lifting you up.
As you’ve probably gathered by this point, I can’t stand to be around negativity, and even though I can display a bit of “writer’s pessimism” from time to time, I’m ultimately always working to reach better and better places in my future; and I’m looking to be around books, movies, and people that help me to envision those places and keep walking toward them. If you are currently trying to make your own life better—if you’re working to heal from something—then stay away from negative people and ideas as best you can. Instead, seek out positive people, energetic ideas, and uplifting and hopeful stories. Those things are out there in abundance, too, and they will increase your healing.
I hope that the above quotes and ideas will prove useful to you in your own journey as you pursue healing and growth.
Until next time, please remember to take care of yourself and your dreams!
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