Psychological Healing

By Paul Dunion | July 30, 2017

We continue to view psychological wounding as an aberration. Consequently, folks who admit they need such healing are defined as having unnatural childhoods, leaving them stigmatized as damaged goods. We have yet to normalize our understanding that because our caregivers were imperfect, we would have experienced a level of neglect or abuse, leaving us wounded. Those same caregivers would have also bestowed some gifts, such as modeling survival, a work ethic or possibly words of encouragement. Hence, we can say that to be born in a family means we get wounded and gifted. Since no one is exempt from needing psychological healing, it benefits us to get clear about its nature.

What Is It?

We can start by looking at the Greek origin of the word psychological, which is “nursing the soul”. Some of the challenge happens because we can’t locate the soul and its healing, the way we can deal with a sliver enlarged in a finger. An old definition of the word heal is “to make whole”. I prefer changing the infinitive “to make” to the verb “making”. We can say that healing is a verb. Healing is nursing the soul and making whole. Science and technology have greatly enhanced our ability to make physical objects whole, restoring them to their original status, at least temporarily. Such expertise is extremely seductive! We want to apply such mastery to all of life, including the soul!

The ego finds it troubling that we cannot arrive somewhere as a fully accomplished entity, like the closure of acquiring a degree and knowing when finished, we graduate. Some time ago a colleague called me from a Health Fair sounding obviously distressed. I was surprised to hear his woe since he had been positively anticipating participating in the Fair.

“Gary, what’s going on? Aren’t you at your booth at the Health Fair?” I asked, knowing how eager he was to represent Men’s Issues at the Fair.

“Yes, yes, I’m here!” People are lining up wanting information from the person in the booth next to mine, with only an occasional passerby coming my way,” he explained, with a tone of defeat.

“What is so special about the adjacent booth?” I asked.

“”There’s a sign prominently placed on the front of her booth which reads, Total Healing in 15 Minutes,” he explained, not concealing his disdain for the incredulous nature of the claim.

“Not to worry, my friend. Create a sign that reads, Total Healing in 10 minutes.”

Gary quickly pointed out that my suggestion was not at all helpful. We quickly moved toward the absurdity of either sign. If total and complete healing of the soul is not an option, then what kind of goal or outcome is possible?

What Kind of Outcome?

Without moving toward some outcome, the journey loses a flavor of authenticity and meaning. With no anticipated outcome, it becomes only too easy to talk the walk of healing, avoiding the risks that support walking the walk. In his poem, Ithaka, C.P. Cavafy focuses on what it means to desire an outcome, such as arriving at Ithaka. (Odysseus’ quest in The Odyssey)

“Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you wouldn’t have set out.

She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.

Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,

you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.”

In place of Ithaka we can list a host of outcomes of healing that can offer a marvelous journey. And yet, not succumb to the ego’s imperative to evolve into a fine tuned finished product. Some of these outcomes might include:

*Living with more integrity

*More clarity about creating safety

*Increased ability to create rapport with others

*Greater capacity to give and receive love

*More freedom

*Enhanced ability to live in the here and now

*Living with more gratitude and generosity

*More effective at being authentic

*Increased capacity to offer compassion

*More competent at forgiving ourselves and others

*Stepping into greater personal empowerment

Of course, like Ithaka, we can set sail for any of these outcomes, again and again. Each time, the outcome of our healing can offer a “marvelous journey”. We can now accept an apprenticeship to the soul’s healing. No longer needing to pretend we are arriving at some auspicious destination, the fullness of our experience offers so much more than we ever anticipated. We come to know what it means to live the healing life, allowing these healing outcomes to bring us closer to ourselves. We become less ambitious, willing to accept life as crafting us. Rather than some alleged triumph over our wounds, we are guided by an acceptance and a suppleness continuingly drawing us into the embrace of life.

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