When something scares us but we never get over that fear, we become traumatized.
When we’re traumatized, our lives start reflecting that. We begin restricting and isolating. We build our habits around what we think will ensure we avoid any more pain.
The traditional teaching is that to heal is to return to what we were before something hurt us — but that curtails the whole point of healing itself.
Healing is not about going back to exactly who you were before, because that person wasn’t yet capable of seeing the storm before it hit, and that person didn’t know how to shield themselves from it.
You aren’t supposed to go back to being naive, less jaded or more unaware. You aren’t meant to return to your blissful mindlessness, a life in which you didn’t know about the contrasts, the pain, all of the good and bad that life can throw at you.
What you get on the other side of healing is greater than that, you just haven’t experienced it yet to know. What you get for going through something painful is that you become more resilient, more self-sufficient, more empowered.
You realize that nothing will save you, and so you must begin the work of saving yourself, which is the entire purpose of your life.
When you begin this work, you find your inner strength. You realize that you have power and influence and you can strategize and redirect your life. You realize that, instead of what you can’t control, your life can be built on what you do.
When you heal, you become stronger where you’ve been broken. You become grounded where you’ve been egotistical. You become responsible where you’ve been neglectful. You become more sensitive and able and conscious. You become more considerate, you are more empathetic, you are more mindful, more careful.
But what you don’t need to be more of is afraid.
Fear is not going to protect you. Action is. Worrying is not going to protect you. Preparing is. Overthinking is not going to protect you. Understanding is.
When we hold onto fear and pain after something traumatic has passed, we do it as a sort of safety net. We falsely believe that we can consistently remind ourselves of all the terrible things that we didn’t see coming, we can avoid them. Not only does this not work, but it also makes you less efficient at responding to them if they do.
Because most of the time, you’re so busy worrying about monsters in the closet, you forget to address the actual things that will erode you over time: your health, your relationships, your long-term vision, your finances, your thoughts.
When you heal completely, you stop tolerating discomfort. When something is wrong, you recognize that it is wrong, and you take action to fix it because you’ve seen what happens when you don’t.
When you heal completely, you are able to think ahead, and rationally consider cause and effect. You recognize that your actions will generate results, and if you want to better control the outcomes of your life, you have to better adjust your habits.
When you heal completely, you realize that there is nothing more important than being able to enjoy where you are, right here and right now. Whatever obstructions are in the way of you being present and savoring your life are the challenges you have to face.
Because life is quick, and it’s temporary. What you have now you could lose tomorrow, and gripping it so tightly, binding it up with resistance doesn’t mean it’s safer. It means that when the day comes that it passes — as does everything, as does everyone — you will realize you never really enjoyed it.
And healing? It’s about getting to a place where you prioritize nothing over the quality of your one, short life.