From False Wounds to True Healing

How to know if you have healed (enough)

Image by 6155856 from Pixabay

Many people begin healing their pain by seeking wisdom, understanding themselves better, and accepting themselves. But their journey never ends. A person traumatized by an event continues to work on his/her trauma all through life. A depressed person embarks on a never-ending search for the perfect state of non-depression. I find this approach doomed to failure.

Healing is an imperfect process. Healing begins with recognizing our incompleteness and ends when we are comfortable with that incompleteness. Once healed, we continue to remain incomplete. Healing does not remove problems from our life — it merely helps us:

  • Move away from our problems (not everything can be solved)
  • Resolve and change things to a new state (resolve or restart)
Image by Zuckerschneggle from Pixabay, Author’s edits

The reason some people never heal is because they evaluate their healing in a flawed manner.

Healing is not always repair, it can be choosing a more natural state

We are works in progress. As we grow, we leave parts of ourselves behind. When we find that we have ‘lost’ a part of ourselves in healing, we believe we are still unhealed, which can be a mistake.

Children lose milk teeth so they can grow permanent ones. Babies give up soft skin and flexible joints so they can grow sturdy, muscular ones. Having milk teeth or soft joints are not wounds to be healed, they are just different states. Healing does not always mean advancing to a higher version of your previous self, it may just require shifting yourself to a new, more natural state.

Don’t evaluate your healing against someone with a different wound

Everyone is on a different life path with their own challenges. Everyone is working on healing wounds that serve as crutches they need to shake off. It does not make sense to compare yourself, a person struggling with math, to a person who is natural at math and struggles with poor communication. You might be a financially poor person with a healthy life- it would be incorrect to compare yourself to a rich person who relies on drugs and caffeine to work 20 hours a day. Since there is no one out there with the exact wounds you have, comparison doesn’t help.

Wounds are to be judged by your perception, not others’

Let me give an unusual example- many decades back, there was an influx of literature on abuse in the media. Upon reading this, many men and women re-evaluated their childhoods and accused their parents of childhood abuse. When they had been children, they had never felt it as abuse (they had accepted it as normal), but when they grew up, they evaluated their own childhoods through others’ eyes and ‘discovered’ wounds that they ‘should have suffered from’. As present day adults, they were well-settled, but in the process of educating themselves, they decided to feel wounded.

Move towards self-awareness, but beware of self-delusion. Education should help you evaluate your life through your eyes, not through others’.

True wounds exist in the present, false wounds exist in the past

Going back to the example above, the adults in the story were happy and settled. If they had suffered trauma, it would have been justified to revisit past wounds. However, as happy adults, the only reason they revisited their past was to validate their education and new self-awareness. This is a perfect example of ‘the idle mind becoming a devil’s workshop’. Since they had no specific problems in their life, they could not use their education to solve genuine problems. So they used their new-found knowledge to find ‘false’ problems to solve, creating a lot of suffering for themselves and others.

Others can project their wounds onto you

A good example of this is seen among over-cautious parents. A child who got bored in class 20 years ago got a scolding and a lecture. After around say, 4–5 years, the child actually found something he/she was interested in and did well at school.

Today, ‘educated’ parents rush their children to therapy, where they are diagnosed quickly with ADHD and given enough drugs to kill an elephant. The drugs don’t actually improve the kid, they shut down the ‘boredom-inducing system’ and also what remains of the child’s creativity. People are afraid to leave kids to their own devices any more, these kids are treated with their parents’ devices.

Bringing up children is partly a waiting game — the child has to grow at its own pace. When parents become impatient, they encounter fear and anxiety. When their child doesn’t grow fast enough to soothe their fears, they project it onto their children and label their kids as disabled.

We see this in relationships and marriages too. It was natural for people to be different a few years ago, it was natural for couples to fight. One partner usually became a more flexible partner, and the other a less-flexible directional one (irrespective of gender). This flexibility differed by area based on each partner’s strengths. Today, with both partners being told that they need to agree or divide everything perfectly, they ‘project’ wounds of relationship abuse onto each other. They rush to pre-marital and post-marriage therapy.

A bully at high school tripping you down the corridor is a high school grudge, it need not become post-traumatic stress syndrome. Being bored with grammar does not mean ADHD, it might mean you need to take a creative writing class. Fighting all the time does not mean your partner is abusing you, it might just mean you are incompatible. A new mother wanting to be alone with her baby might mean just that, not post-partum depression.

I am not commenting here on the validity or seriousness of psychological disorders. But psychology is becoming a bit like selling soap. You might need to bathe just once a day, but by showing you ads where microbes keep crawling all over your skin each time you shake hands or kiss, you are trained to use and buy more soap…or mouthwash. By constantly showing you examples of how you are doomed to unhappiness unless every single thing in your life is perfect, you are urged towards finding new problems and more therapy. With healing becoming a business, wounds become reduced to ‘creating a need in the market’.

If we don’t learn to be patient with ourselves and others, we shall continue to discover new wounds. As long as we search for proof that we have (completely) healed, we shall never heal. A healed person is not complete, he/she has discarded those wounds that serve them no more, and chosen the wounds that he/she can handle. Once you can handle a part of yourself, it ceases to be a wound.

When you rely on someone outside you — it might be your friends, a role-model, your parents, your spouse…anyone, to understand why you are flawed, you create false wounds. These false wounds can never be healed because they aren’t your wounds, they belong to someone else. True wounds are found through introspection, not through comparison.

Emotions are natural — both the ups and downs. The moment you divide emotions into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, you create wounds. The only way to be constantly, everlastingly happy is keep yourself pumped up through drugs and alcohol or by going insane. For everyone else, it is normal for emotions to go through a down cycle to help the body recharge. This down cycle is not a wound — it is how we remain physiologically and mentally stable.

It is okay to be happy and unwounded. Others’ discomfort with who we are does not mean we are flawed or wounded. We need to judge our happiness and pain by our own standards, not those of society. We will find your deepest joy when we see pain and obstacles as challenges to help us grow, not as wounds that need constant healing.

This article is related to my earlier post:

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Remember How to Heal, But be More Forgetful

I find many struggling with pain, filling their lives with suffering. It is time to remember that every wound contains within itself the ability to heal. Humor helps.

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

You are a baby, you have just begun crawling. You are excited- you can crawl, you can CRAWL! You give your parents a big toothless smile and accelerate towards them at the (mind-boggling) speed of 2 miles/hour. Increasing velocity, increasing….increasing…and BANG! (Where did that chair come from?) Of course, you have an in-built program to handle just such a situation

1. Begin phase 1- cry: keep checking to see if strange man or woman notices

2. Gradually increase crying volume till your feet magically leave the ground

3. Allow strangers to say random words in unknown language

4. Go to sleep, forget about it

5. Wake up the next day, ready to bump head (or boneless knee) once again

Fast forward a few years. You are 13. You trip down a set of stairs.

1. You rub your butt. Your head is filled with humiliation, your ears with your friends’ laughter

2. Your friends decide to record this for all posterity with their mobile phones

3. You laugh along with them, making a mental note to yourself to keep your mobile phone handy to capture the instant they fall

4. You forget about your butt. You remember your mobile phone.

You are middle-aged. It is a complex world. Charts and figures astound you, people overwhelm you, your body has decided that it doesn’t like that much beer or street food after all. You read news of world catastrophes, poverty and misery. People keep telling you that if you are (or look) happy, it is sinful and selfish. You need to keep worrying to prove to society that you are compassionate.

Your significant other dumps you. You lose your job…

1. You can’t take it anymore, you (decide to) feel whammied

2. You are unable to cope with the situation- the (painful) scene keeps replaying inside your head

3. You are unable to forget- you rush to your (mini?) bar

4. You fall into a stupor, hoping you don’t get up for some time

5. You get up, wonder why you drank so much

6. You actually remember why you drank so much, and you realize…Your. Life. Is. Ruined. Forever.

7. You research online. You seek therapy. You self-medicate.

8. You decide you will never forget this. You decide to never recover.

9. You realize you need to learn how to heal

Babies heal. Adults forget that they were babies once.

You don’t need to learn how to heal. You have simply forgotten. Healing is like your Windows OS (sorry Mac users) pre-loaded into a corner of your laptop’s hard drive. If your laptop goes crazy, you do a factory reset, a system restore and presto, your laptop’s as good as new. You need to do just that to heal- a system recovery. You need to go back into your past to heal your present, but there is no need to stay there.

So, how do you heal yourself?

1. Stop worrying about getting hurt. You will get hurt. There are tables and chairs everywhere, but how will you know where they are without bumping your (soft 1 year old) head once in a way? Next time, you will be careful. You will handle that table when you are ready- you will DESTROY that table the day you turn 2 or 5 or whatever (you don’t know to count yet, anyway). Until then, the table had better watch out. You can’t stop crawling just because mommy or the table said so. You can’t stop living just because life says so.

2. When you get hurt, scream away. Not that loudly (society is watching), but at least inside your head. Use a few swear words, forget about being a gentleman or lady. That way, people watching you will also become traumatized at your behavior and reach out to you for therapy. If someone wants to comfort you, grant them that privilege. If you want to be alone and laugh it off, that’s perfectly fine. Get it out of your system. Life punched your tire, allow it to inflate back with a pop.

3. Make a mental note to learn about what hurt you. If someone is bullying you, learn to stand up for yourself. If someone dumped you, stop carrying them around in your head. In fact, dump them back (mentally, not on the phone- that might be silly). If you got fired, search for a new job…but learn why you got fired to ensure you don’t end up that way again.

4. Keep rubbing your butt where it hurts. Yes, it will hurt for a while, but one day when you are watching Netflix or reading something on Medium, you will forget all about it (there you go, I just reminded you to rub it again).

5. Focus on better things. Most people who try to heal try very hard to forget pain. You can’t forget pain, you can only deprioritize it till it no longer figures in your todo list (crap, I forgot to heal my pain today, but no time- gotta rush). When you have other things filling up your life, you will have little time to remember when and where you got hurt. Remember that time when you rubbed your hand or finger, wondering where you bumped it because you can’t recollect? That’s exactly what I am talking about. Positive focus and a bad memory are two sides of the same coin.

That is all that healing is, in a nutshell. Just don’t keep picking at the scabs or you will end up having a scar- let nature take care of things. Remember how to heal, but the moment you decide to heal- develop a bad memory.

Four steps…Pick yourself up, analyze and forget the incident (you have better things to think about), forget the pain (you have better things to feel)…but remember the lesson (to make sure your future is better than your pa ** — sorry, really can’t recall that last word).