The Most ‘Delicate’ Stage in Healing – Part 1
by Rob Brookler
(Note: Please read Meditations2go Article: “A Context for Healing,” as background for this article.)
You’ll recall from Meditations2go Article: “A Context for Healing,” that when it comes to our personal healing, it’s best to see our “wounding” not so much as an area we are fixing, but an area or aspect of ourselves where we have chosen to discover greater strength and understanding. And that this healing tends to progress in phases and through successive levels.
Having said this, there is a particular phase in the healing process that deserves special attention. It merits attention as it’s a phase in which we frequently get bogged down, stalling the “progression” that is our healing, and often frustrating us. We stall here for a very simple reason: because in this “delicate” stage of healing we tend to shift out of the loving “energy” that is necessary for healing. Fortunately, in becoming aware of this phase and this tendency, we can find our way back to this loving “position” and continue our healing.
Defending our wound
What is this delicate stage in our healing? It’s an early stage, typically when we first become aware of a wounded place … or when we become aware of it at a deeper level. It’s a tricky phase because when we do first “feel” the wound, instead of gathering our strength in support of the wounded place, we will gather our strength in defense of this place.
This is an important distinction, so let’s make it clear. There will be a stage of healing, usually when the wound is first “activated” – or, alas, when it is reactivated – when we’ll gather our strength and focus not to heal and restore this place, but to protect and defend it.
Now, this is an absolutely valid, human response and a completely valid stage in our healing. And progressing beyond this stage in our healing depends on our ability to identify it, understand it, and treat this stage (and ourselves) with compassion.
So again, this “defensive” stage is a completely natural, human response. We can liken it to our experience in a doctor’s office as our physician examines a sprain or a contusion. The doctor pokes and probes the injured area, and we yelp in pain. We instantly, even reflexively, pull back. Moreover, though the physician certainly did not originate the injury, our feelings toward him or her at this painful moment are not particularly friendly. Indeed, by simply triggering the pain, the doctor has earned our wrath … if only for that moment.
This strong, “instinctual” defensive reaction is all the more pronounced when we feel the “sting” of an emotional or psychological “wound” … when a wound to our sense of self or to our primal nature is re-awakened. When this deeper, older wounding is stimulated, all the power of the original rage and pain can rise in a fresh torrent. As if in survival (because so it seems), we instantly gather all our strength to protect this place … and we typically project our rage and grievance solidly toward the party that triggered it.
Our urge to strike back
In the doctor’s examining room, our defensiveness and fury will subside almost as quickly as it emerged, understanding that the physician has triggered the existing wound only in order to identify it. But when our pain is emotional or psychological, we are not so quick to recognize our wound as pre-existing.
Indeed, we typically do not recognize it as our wound at all, but merely a fresh, personal attack upon us. And whether this “attack” is a comment or action from a family member or a co-worker or an instructor or even some random stranger, this person – rather than our wounding – becomes the center of our focus. We will rise up in defense and direct our rage against them. We will attack them in our minds. We will feel the need to prove them wrong.
Part of this strong defensive reaction arises because our older wounds tend to be those that have “crossed” our power: wounds that derive from invalidation of our sense of worth or a personal violation that made us feel powerless. Because such “impacts” go to the heart of who we are and our healthy strength, our response is often an intense and understandable desire to reclaim our power. This tends to manifest as rage toward the “trigger” (as though it were the original trigger). Often we feel an intense demand for justice … a desire to justify our position or ourselves. A need to get our power back.
It’s our healing that restores our power
Again, this is a natural and understandable response and a completely valid phase in our healing. Unfortunately, this “external” defensive and offensive focus of our energy, far from restoring our power, tends to disempower us. To the extent that we shift our focus toward the trigger – to that “injuring” party or “unjust” situation – we give away our power to it. And we again become its victim.
Moreover, it redirects us away from the true source of the pain: the actual wounding that needs our attention. And it’s only by healing the wound that we actually restore our power. So while this “reactive,” defensive phase is understandable, it’s not a phase in which we should wish to spend too much time. And by understanding and identifying this phase, we do move beyond it.
In The Most ‘Delicate’ Stage in Healing – Part 2, we’ll discuss how to move out of the “defensive” phase and open to healing.
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