The Most ‘Delicate’ Stage in Healing – Part 2
by Rob Brookler
Moving out of this “stinging,” defensive phase of our healing simply requires our awareness, our understanding … and a little conscious discipline. That conscious discipline comes into play when we acknowledge and concede that pain and wisdom rarely travel together within us. Being human, we tend to “react” to pain, rather than respond to it. That’s just the way we are. When we feel or experience something we don’t like – something painful – our first impulse is to look (and sometimes strike out) in an outward, offensive or defensive direction.
But our true healing begins when we choose instead to look, with compassion, to ourselves.
The ‘Sting’ Should (Eventually) Direct Us Inward, Not Outward
So, we must be able to identify this initial "reactivity." And when we feel that outward rage, we must be able to say: “Yep, this hurts and I’m in reactive mode. I am raging … and this is me feeling and defending my wound.” Depending on the depth of the wound, we will need to give ourselves a bit of time and some room to "process" (and release) these angry/hurt feelings. But as justified as our outward anger may seem, we must eventually choose to redirect our focus gently inward. We must try to see this pain not as a something "done" to us. Nor is the pain a sign that something is wrong with us. Our pain is our signal drawing us to a wound that needs our attention.
So again, in practice, when we feel that telltale “sting” as someone or something activates an old wound, we need to say: “Aha … here’s a wounded place or a wounded belief I still need to address." Yes, we must by all means acknowledge that initial anger or disappointment or sadness. These are our valid responses to the situation. But these are our emotions. In experiencing them, we mustn’t fall into the trap of attaching and entrenching these feelings into the situation and looking to that situation or person to “fix” things and provide the healing. Ultimately, the wound that has been triggered is ours, and it is ours to address.
Looking inward … compassionately
When we are able to look inward, there is another little trap we must avoid. In addressing this wounded place, we must do so compassionately. We can war with ourselves just as viciously as we can war with another. And when we do turn our focus inward, our first impulse is often to attack ourselves.
We tend to see our wound as a flaw, a weakness, yet another thing we must “fix” in ourselves. And in looking at ourselves reproachfully and harshly, we are, in effect, serving to repeat the attack. We are, for the moment, caught in the “wounded energy.” [For more on this, read Meditations2Go Article: Loving the Self – Part 2.] This too is a “delicate” stage, and one that we must simply watch for … and move deftly out of.
Watch for the wound to protect itself … against us
When the wound runs particularly deep, there can be another, even more internal, defensive mechanism. When our healing and attention does actually find and begin to move into this wounded place, the wound will put up its own defenses. It’s the “sting” effect all over again. The wound has been found and, in its pain, it’s striking back … this time against our efforts. We can almost count on this happening, so don’t be discouraged when it does.
And the wound can be very clever and subtle in its defensive attack, particularly if it is a primal wound (e.g., a wound to our sense of self or a violation of our power). When the wound starts to “open” – in response to our attention and healing – it will do everything it can to push us away. Our “internal critic” will get very loud, indeed. It will attack us with harshness, with self-doubt – anything to undermine our efforts to heal. It will tell us: “Yeah, you actually think you can really heal this!” or “You don’t really think you’re actually valuable or powerful.” It will look for every chink in our armor and undermine any evidence of our worthiness, strength, and wholeness. So, be prepared for this barrage.
Fortunately, this is actually a sign that we’re beginning to heal. When this onslaught begins, we know we’ve hit the mark. And there’s a very simple and effective strategy to handle this defensive voice.The trick is simply not to participate with it. Don’t fight with this voice. Don’t argue with it. It’s not our true voice. In fact, it’s the voice of our wound.
Not fighting this voice will take some discipline. The wounded voice will try to taunt us – in its effort to get our attention and survive. It will try to pull us back into the wounded energy, using all sorts of seemingly compelling arguments. Our best strategy is simply to recognize this and choose not to “get onboard” with it. Just let the voice blather on. In doing so – in not engaging or “feeding” it – the wounded voice will get quieter and weaker. And the healing will move more deeply in.
Remember the ‘Context for Healing’
If at any time and or in any phase in our healing process, we feel stuck or begin to struggle, we’ve almost certainly moved into the realm of self-judgment or self-defensiveness. The way back to the realm of healing is always through our compassion. Our healing is not meant to be a trial. Our healing is sacred. Remember the context for healing: we are not broken in this place or damaged, but growing stronger here. Taking this compassionate approach, we will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly and smoothly even our oldest wounds heal
Our healing progresses and completes only when we open to it: only when we are in the expansive energy of love. Being human, however, there will be times when we will “close” and tighten around our wounding, when our pain leads us to look away from ourselves and defend against enemies around us. As justified as it may seem for us to focus on those who triggered the pain, we must eventually return our focus to our wound in order to complete our healing.
During the defensive stage, it may help to imagine yourself in the doctor’s examination room. By all means give yourself permission to feel that initial “sting” and anger, as the wound is discovered. But let this defensive focus subside, knowing that this discovery of the wound is merely the necessary step before the healing can begin. And when you are able to open around this wounded place, open it to your own compassion … for this is the true nature of healing.
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