When I first began my healing journey, I was determined to do it alone where no one would see the brokenness, the rage or the grief inside me. I was so determined, in fact, that I almost missed the boat that eventually carried me away from my island prison. What I found was that I couldn’t do it alone because without another soul to bear witness to the suffering and the healing, these feelings would just stay inside and fester. Everyone you meet has soul wounds–parts of themselves that are damaged beyond their ability to repair and that they don’t want anyone to see. We have doctors to treat our bodies and psychologists to treat our minds, but where are the soul healers?
The advice I often heard was to “pray harder and trust God more.” <facepalm> Please don’t misunderstand me–prayer is a vital part of keeping a soul healthy, and a relationship with God is a powerful force for healing. But God doesn’t live our lives for us. God doesn’t put us here and drag us through pain and suffering and then clean us up and put us away as though we were a stuffed animal being dragged around by a toddler. We live these lives in order to learn and grow as souls, and as a father I know how painful that process of growth can be. I watch my children endure the pain of beating their stubborn little heads against any and all resistance to their will, but if I intervene they learn nothing. All I can do is make sure things don’t get out of control, and periodically check for concussions. To save a child from their life lessons, is a huge disservice.
The other problem with this advice is that soul wounds can often damage a person’s ability to have a connection with God for any number of reasons, leaving them feeling cut off, alone and unacceptable. To the soul in this state, being told to pray harder and trust God is like being told “there is only one cure and you’re allergic to it.” This only reinforces that unacceptable feeling, which, if left unhealed, can lead them to rock bottom (see my article on suicide). A wounded soul needs connection above all else, without shame, guilt or fear. The best thing you can do for someone with a soul wound is to share a meal with them and just listen. It doesn’t matter what they say or what you think of it. What matters is that you listen and hear them.
New Age Hippie Wigwam Stuff
A lot of wounded souls today gravitate toward the wide array of self-help books and motivational seminars that are so readily available. They listen to audio recordings of whales while they sleep and do (or attempt) yoga and meditation during the day, and it helps them cope. They go on retreats and search for answers, and the search keeps them occupied. It makes them feel like they’re doing something. But when the search is over, the longing feeling is still there. Again, don’t get me wrong, I like whales and yoga, and many of those books and seminars have some good things to say. But all the white light and good vibrations in the world won’t heal a wounded soul that isn’t willing to be seen.
The Sacred Circle
The first time I experienced real soul healing I was seated in a circle on the floor of a secluded lodge with seven other wounded souls and a team of three trained healers. Every instinct in my body was screaming at me to run. I was terrified. There was no way I was going to be able to do this. I didn’t know it then, but I had just barely enough of the two ingredients needed for the alchemy of soul healing: courage and willingness. With each breath I chose to stay in that circle, and what happened next was nothing short of life-changing.
We went through many experiences over that weekend and the weekends that came after it, but the first step of the journey was allowing myself to be seen. Each of us, in turn, simply talked while the rest listened. The vulnerability we faced would have made Brené Brown proud. We each took the risk of being rejected, and in doing so we found the acceptance we had longed for. I looked into the eyes of my companions, and I saw the same grief, rage and brokenness that I was so afraid the world would see under my “OK Shell“. By being broken open, I finally found real soul medicine: unconditional acceptance. I could be broken and filled with rage and shame and still find connection with these souls who had suffered just as I had.
A Safe Space
If your wounds are calling out for healing, you’ll need two things (besides courage and willingness): a safe space and a skilled healer. Right now you’re probably thinking you can do it alone, and you don’t need to or can’t afford to pay someone to help you work through your healing. It can’t be done alone. I tried, and it was almost the last nail in my coffin. You’ll come out of it feeling more hopeless than ever. So now you’re going to tell me about all your great friends that you can be vulnerable with for free. How can they help when you’re not invested in the process and they have no training?
Money was one of the main excuses I used in order to avoid starting my journey. I was already such a drain on everyone around me. How could I possibly justify the cost of therapy? For me, the alternative was pretty bleak, so I bit the bullet and that investment paid itself back tangibly within a year. In fact, while I was sitting in that circle, an email arrived in my inbox advising me of a salary increase. Am I promising that money will pour in from all sides if you get professional help? Absolutely not. But stranger things have happened, and even though you might not believe this, you are worth it! You deserve to enjoy life free from all of the things that hold you back, and it is within your reach.
If you need a safe space or help finding a soul healer, don’t hesitate to contact us or feel free to Make An Appointment. We would be honored to help you get started on your healing journey.