What Last Tuesday Taught Me About Healing
November 12, 2016
People around the world were shocked by the events of last Tuesday’s election, and to be honest I was among them. In confusion and disbelief, I turned to my family and friends in person, over phone, on social media, and in the midst of so many impassioned voices, one message has stuck out to me:
As the dust settled after the enormous metaphorical blast that was last Tuesday’s election, I stood silent amidst the rubble of my own thoughts and beliefs. I stood in my kitchen, in my life, and everything was in exactly the same place but everything felt so different.
Slowly, daring to rise from the dusty rubble was this tiny, quiet thought: “how could I have missed this?”
I never considered the possibility that what happened, might happen. Because I missed this, I missed a huge opportunity to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for what might happen, for how it might affect me, my family, my friends. I missed something that seemed so distant but now that it’s here it is so unmissably huge that many people don’t know how they’ll get over it.
Here’s the thing: I was in denial.
Denial (with a few rare and extreme exceptions) doesn’t serve us. It will never serve us to avoid something simply because looking at it, considering it, planning for it might cause us discomfort. Denial is how things stay the same, it’s how we keep ourselves in the same still, stuck place. Denial does not help us envision the future; it does not help us move forward. Denial keeps us from recognizing the opportunities in new challenges; it keeps us where we are, with our gaze stubbornly fixated on what is known and comfortable, on the past.
We are meant to grow.
Sometimes in healing, the hardest lesson to learn is not a lesson at all; sometimes the hardest thing to do is to practice growing. To be in the process of growing, of changing, of moving forward requires moments of discomfort.
Denial keeps us focused on the past because it’s safe, because it’s well-charted territory. There is no fear of change in the past.
Growing means moving forward, turning your gaze toward the future to focus on where you are going. It is uncertain, and this can be much scarier than the past, which holds no uncertainty.
Anytime a person truly engages in her or his healing process, there will come a time when she or he is challenged by this fear, and can easily be coaxed back into old habits, an old lifestyle.
This is because healing requires us to
look squarely at what we’ve held in denial
consciously assess it and make a decision: is this (behaviour, food, relationship etc.) good for me?
to move forward, allowing this new information to guide the steps we take into our future.
To return to hope:
As long as we are alive, there is reason to hope.
Hope and strength feed each other.
As we heal, we move out of denial and towards our future. As we practice the art of growing we notice the fear that may have been hiding behind denial.
As we notice the fear and find better ways to deal with it, we become stronger.
As we heal, we become stronger and our capacity to hope does too.
When we act from a place of strength and hope, we invite goodness into the world.