Waiting around for the pain to heal won’t work. It’s time to take recovery into your own hands..
Weeks ago, I sat down in a busy cafe along town, just people watching. Around me, 3 women were sitting alone, each quietly drinking their coffee.
“At least it’s comforting knowing I was not the only one in need of me time” I thought, and relaxed into my spot..
I observed their postures, their body language, their facial expressions.. their sadness.
All of a sudden, one woman jumped up, wiped her eyes and dashed off. Not long after, the second woman did the same: just as she seemed to become aware of a painful emotion, she jumped up and left.
It was eerie to watch, it was like seeing someone burn themselves on a hot stove and pull away; that reflex reaction to hide the pain.
Now, if there’s anywhere in the world where it might be considered ‘normal’ to approach strangers in a cafe, it’s definitely not here in Singapore.
I decided to be bold and introduce myself to the remaining lady.
She opened up.
Confiding about the pain she experienced when her husband left her, and choked back tears as she relayed fears about supporting her two children alone after her divorce.
When I asked what made them want to jump up and leave the moment they tuned into those feelings of despair, the answer was blurted out almost simultaneously..
“I cannot fall apart. I just don’t have the time.”
That Sunday conversation at the cafe changed everything for me.
It was then that I realised how much human beings struggle to face up to their feelings – no matter how far along we are in life, how much life experience we think we’ve got under our belt, the struggle is still there.
The busier we get, the lower our tolerance for pain.
Many professions see painful emotions as dangerous threats to be neutralised. We are overwhelmed with a plethora of medications and therapies which are all geared towards removing, blocking or avoiding the feelings that hurt us.
But healing is not about avoiding pain.
Emotions are not to be feared. They tell us what is happening in our psyche. They tell us that stuff below the surface needs to be dealt with.
What many psychologists don’t know because they don’t study pharmacology is that emotions cannot be ‘dialled down’. Chemically, if you suppress one emotion, you suppress them all. Numbing yourself so you don’t feel makes you suppressed, depressed and sick.
Healing does not need to be a drawn-out nightmare.
I often hear of counselors telling people: “you just need some time.”
The problem with believing that time heals the wound is that people wind up doing nothing, passively waiting for healing to happen to them.
True healing takes place when you engage in active enquiry – you’ve got to muster up the courage to feel all the emotions and resolve each loose end.
Without this, the old emotions become stuck and leave a chemical blueprint in your body.
After my own setback and in my months of change management, I’ve been on a roller coaster ride – shock, loss, anger, hurt, madness, guilt, hurt, sadness, rage..
I felt lost and annoyed that there was no clear healing pathway mapped out that I could follow. It felt mostly as though I was walking around with a dislocated shoulder with the doctor on repeat in my ear explaining that yes, it hurts, but eventually it will feel normal – you’ll learn to live with it; it’s all part of the healing process.
But I didn’t want to learn to live with it. I wanted someone to pop the shoulder back into the socket, get it all over and done with – even if it hurt like hell.
Healing can be a journey of self-discovery.
It can also take less time than you can even imagine.
In these coming months since, I found that healing is not a passive process. Real healing means active engagement with the subject matter with focused intensity.
I’ve acknowledged that being into a world where life is not a struggle and healing doesn’t take forever, you just got to be present mentally, emotionally and spiritually..
Why not take a step back, BREATHE, allow yourself to tumble down the rabbit hole and discover the person you deserve to be?
And if need be, grab a COFFEE along the way!