We live much of our lives not realizing that our inner self has healing work that needs our attention. In my last post, I listed ways to accessing healing. In this post, I want to get a bit deeper into what I think a process of healing looks like, illustrated in more or less chronological order:
1. Inciting incident. True story: I got really angry at an ex-boyfriend once (okay, maybe more than once), because he called me “lazy.” Why? Growing up, my mother used name calling to shame me and my siblings into submission. One of the names she called me was lazy. Or that time when I broke down because my doctor called me with a report on some negative result. And sure enough, there was an emotional wound attached to this physical ailment.
Or maybe your inciting incident comes as a dream, an unfortunate event such as divorce or getting fired at work, etc. Whatever its form, inciting incidents are invaluable because it is one way that the universe sends you a reminder that you’ve strayed off course from living and being your true authentic self. So next time you stumble upon an inciting incident, rather than getting angry or running from it, try embracing it (or parts of it.) Because it will lead to…
2. Insight. Following the inciting incident comes insight. To be clear though, insight comes with staying open and listening to your true authentic self. Otherwise, it’s just gut reaction. And gut reactions are useful when you need to react quickly to a swerving car in front of your’s on the highway, but no good, when it comes to healing an emotional wound. Put another way, gut reactions to an inciting incident often manifest itself in the form of anger or fear.
Instead, if your mind can stay quiet and really listen, insight will come. For me, I had a recent insight where I realized the totality of the universe and where my place was within it. I also realized that I was on the course of my true calling in life. Now, not everyone will have the same insight: but your insight will be equally profound. One where you come into awareness of whatever the universe wants you to know in that moment.
3. Inward journey. It should be clear that everyone’s inward journey is going to be a bit different, depending on the insight they just gained. My favorite way to relating to this part of the healing process is to borrow Joseph Campbell’s template of the Hero’s Journey, as described in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
Readers, don’t skim on this part of the healing process! If you must, throw all your eggs into this basket. Because this is the part where you will learn new skills, gain new experiences. By devoting your time and energy to your inward journey, you might have a shot at becoming the person that you were suppose to be, or wish to become.
And as such – embarking on your inward journey will feel right and true. Yes there will be moments where you will fall or fail. But for the most part, if you’re doing it right, it will feel like the best ride of your life. In fact, it can feel like you are creating your own life from scratch. Sounds amazing, right?
Now if you’re completely lost as to where to begin, read my last post, Accessing Healing Part 1, where you can get some ideas on how to kick start your inward journey. Some advice: be kind to yourself, never judge yourself or your pace, and stay open to whatever possibilities that might shore up.
4. Teachers and guides 2.0. It dawned on me in recent weeks that most of us traverse the bulk of our adult lives with no teachers, guides, or mentors at our side. Where did they go after we completed high school or college? As part of your inward journey, you will hopefully meet teachers, guides, and mentors that will help you along your way. But they will be masked by some other profession or identity – because our society tells us that we’re done with learning after formal schooling.
Personally, I work with a coach, a reiki teacher, and an acupuncturist and consider them my teachers and guides. I have a professor from college that I keep in touch with that I consider my lifelong teacher. And I connect with the Dalai Lama’s work at a spiritual and soulful level.
I also have a friend who, when asked about her teachers, responded that her best teacher has been herself. Whatever works for you. Just remember that only a fraction of what there is to know is within our immediate reach, and someone (or your intuition) has another layer of information we still want to have access to.
5. Learning. After you’ve completed your inward journey, you’ve now learned a bit more about your true self, what you are capable of, and who you are capable of becoming. The new skills we’ve gained now requires practice. Constant practice. I find this to be the most frustrating part. In the end, my mother was right: I am lazy. Well, sort of – the wound ran deep because therein lies a truth! But it is not the only truth.
No matter who you are (or how hardworking you are,) this part is difficult because it is unnatural to our decades-old self. But for those of us who has a tremendous amount of patience, persistence, and/or perseverance, this stage will feel easier and more natural. Either way, the next and what I consider as the final stage of the healing process will forever impress upon you as the person you were meant to become…
6. Re-scripting. We’ve got muscle memory, and/or an inner script that’s outdated, and therefore false, to replace. In fact, you were probably never really the person that you thought you were – it was just a script, a narrative, that you or others told of you. But guess what? That old you, whether s/he was real, is still in the background, waiting for the perfect opportunity to make a comeback.
Re-scripting is therefore crucial to cementing your new identity. Re-scripting is the culmination of insight, learning and practice of becoming the new you. Re-scripting means replacing your old identity, roles and behavior with new ones, and telling yourself who you’ve now become and who you’re now made of. Whether because you’ve now become a great daughter, singer, writer: you now get to say it, own it, and be it. Re-script creatively – you might even stumble upon another insight for another inward journey.
There’s a reason why they call it the art of healing… There’s an art to it, and art takes process. Art is also creative, and creation takes time. Be gentle and kind to yourself as you embark on your healing process. Give yourself time to master your own healing process! What’s more: once you’ve mastered this art, you’ve now become its next great teacher.