I believe that one of the most effective ways to make sense of our world - and our experiences in our world - is through metaphor. When we can paint a word picture, it helps create meaning within our experience, therefore allowing us to integrate our experiences into our story. When we are able to integrate all of our stories into our overall life narrative, we become more connected to ourselves and are then able to live more authentically in connection to others.
One thing I hear often from clients, or potential clients, is that they want to heal from the wounds they know are there, yet there is often a fair amount of ambivalence that stands in the way.
What is ambivalence? Simply put, it is the mixed feelings of "I kinda do but I also kinda don't" want to face the crap that's bothering me.
This is a normal part of the process, and it means that both your conscious and your unconscious mind are in conflict about how to move forward.
Your conscious mind is aware of the problem. You're tired of feeling stuck in the same patterns, and you begin to see them for what they are- negative cycles of interaction, both with yourself and with others, that aren't serving you well.
Your unconscious mind feels threatened. Under the surface, you're worried that you'll feel more pain if you really look at what is hurting you.
You know when a toddler falls and doesn't realize they're hurt until they look down and see the blood on their knee? Your unconscious mind wants to protect you, and it tries to make you believe that if you won't look at the wound, it won't hurt.
Conflict ensues. It's like a tug-of-war that you are only partially aware of. The part that you are aware of is the discomfort you feel in life. Perhaps you feel it when you're on your own. Maybe you feel it more when you're with someone close to you. Either way, (and often both), it's enough discomfort to let you know that something is going on, and you want to change. You want to heal.
You have two options, at this point.
(A) Continue forward with the open wound, never looking at it, fearing that if you do, it will hurt worse. The open wound is susceptible to infection and further injury this way. Each time you fall down, bump into something, or lift the scab -even just a little- the wound that was trying to heal gets re-injured. It may fester, become more painful, and ooze at inconvenient times (yuck). There is a chance that it will heal eventually, but there is just as likely a chance that it will get worse, which by the way, only increases the pain and discomfort. It could become infected, ultimately creating a larger wound and extending the time it takes to heal.
OR, you could...
(B) Take a look at the wound and attend to it properly. And yes, it will probably hurt worse for a moment. It is only when we really look at the wound that we can see what it needs to be able to heal. It may need to be cleaned out to ensure that infection is held at bay. Once it's cleaned, you're able to properly dress it to promote effective (and much more timely) healing. You might put a salve over it that dulls the pain and keeps bacteria out, and then cover it with a bandage to allow for uninterrupted healing. This route may hurt more at first, but healing takes place much more quickly, and often with less scarring.
I wonder if you're picking up on the deeper messaging here? You're emotional wounds are just as susceptible to infection as your physical wounds. And you have the same two options when it comes to addressing what it is that has caused pain or discomfort in your life.
As you're reading this, you might have a wound that has come to mind. Perhaps it is a childhood wound. Maybe it is a more recent relational wound, or even a spiritual wound. Whatever the wound is that comes to mind, it is likely that it occurred within the context of relationship to someone.
We are both hurt and healed in the context of relationship. And the saying is true, "if we don't heal what hurt us, we'll bleed on people who didn't cut us."
This means that whatever wounds that we haven't attended to will be carried forward into our relationships. Not only will our own wound become infected, but it's likely that we'll be the perpetrator of similar wounds to those we love most.
You see, in both options, we'll end up with scars. Healing still leaves scars, either way.
When our wounds are left unattended, the scars become bigger and more difficult to fully heal. The infection may spread making it difficult to bind together. What is, in a literal sense, an open wound becomes figuratively the disconnectedness that you feel with yourself and others.
But by properly attending to your wounds with kindness and compassion, you'll find that the scar you are left with is much lighter- it's integrated into the skin - your life's "story." It holds both meaning and the reminiscence of the pain you once felt, but because the wound has found connection with the skin around it, it is able to fully heal and become whole again. Wholeness is connectedness.
Healing still leaves scars, but when we make sense of our own scars through attentive care, we are able to integrate the "scar stories" into the "skin" of life that we are living. We have the opportunity for whole healing for our whole life.
If you're tired of feeling disconnected from yourself, I can help. Let's start working towards the life of authenticity you want. We'll do it together. Call for your free consultation today.
Take some time to write stream-of-conscious (that means whatever comes to mind-no filter!) for at least 10 minutes. Center your attention on the scars or wounds that still need attention. How do you know when the scab has lifted? How does it feel when they are bumped or bruised. Try to name the emotions that rise to the surface as you focus your attention on this prompt. Remember, remaining curious- not judgmental- of yourself and your experience is important in this process.
Write anything that pops into your mind as it is- no need for perfectly formed sentences, punctuation, or spelling and grammar checks. Also, it doesn’t have to make sense right now. Trust that whatever comes to mind has important meaning, even if you aren’t sure what it is right now.
As always, I would love to hear how this information has impacted you, what you learned about yourself, and what you'd like to know more about. Don't hesitate to email me. I read every response.