Healing is the natural process by which we triage the trauma that is ushered into our life as a result of a life storm or crisis event.
In my books, workshops and seminars and even on my radio show I discuss healing in a linear fashion. Meaning that I describe (1) life events that rock our world, (2) the trauma those life storms create and (3) how healing helps us rebuild, reboot and reinvent ourselves and lives.
Books, workshops, seminars, videos and even the podcasts are linear: a point to point straight line discussion. Hence the limitation of media when it comes to exploring the vital and life giving-back process of healing.
Life is a process. Life ebbs and flows. Life moves forward then backwards then sideways and even diagonally. Life is up then down then up again and down once more. Sometimes the ups are high and the downs very low. Some ups are just ups and downs just downs, nothing dramatic.
With this in mind I take a linear look at why we heal and how we heal. I call all of this The Art of Healing. You may choose to apply what you learn from reading this book by engaging in the process of living your life, the process of the Art of Healing.
Life Storms happen.
Our lives rocked.
The trajectory on which we thought our life was traveling is suddenly altered. Sometimes subtly and sometimes violently.
Each and every day we are confronted with the events and situations that create the scenes of our life. These life events, some of which grow into life storms, impact our lives. We are also expected to cope with situational life events from hitting every light on the way to work and thus being late for the big meeting to the fact that no one in your home saved you a plate of dinner and post that late meeting you arrive home with the kitchen cleaned and dark and the family on the couch watching DVR fodder.
The other choice is to not cope, not manage the situational life events that challenge our mental wellness and psychological fitness skills. You can always dig a hole, crawl in and stop living so that you stop experiencing daily occurrences that challenge your mental wellness. Go on. Yell at the family for sitting on their collective asses watching television as you are forced to microwave a pasta bowl because no one had the forethought to save you a plate.
No one loves me.
No one cares that I am out slaving away late into the evening.
Shit. Spilled pasta sauce on my new tie.
Life storms, which are known as “crises”, break connections we have with vital people, places and things in our lives. When a divorce occurs, the connection between husband and wife; parent and child are broken. A connection to a dream of a happy and content family, awesome and loving marriage, romantic get-a-ways is broken. The connection to trust and faith and honesty is broken. Life storms break the connections we build and maintain that make life not only possible but rich and full.
Life storms also come with plenty of debris. As with a tsunami or tornado or hurricane debris and destruction are side effects of the life storms or crises in which we endure. Life storms leave behind the debris of fear and hurt.
When we lose our job we have a broken connection to coworkers and identity and a sense of productivity. We also see piles of debris: fear and hurt. We are afraid that we may never find another job like that ONE. God, how we loved that job. What a great team of people.
We may fear that we may lose our home due to a lack of financial income. Now what? Small one bedroom apartment for the five of us. Ok. We’ll put the kids in the bed room. We have cots and sleeping bags. My partner and I will sleep on the sofa sleeper we’ll pull out of some garage sale. Beats a refrigerator box under the highway bridge.
We may be hurt that after 25 years of dedicated service we were dismissed in a thirty-minute meeting with human resources then handed a small, paper box in which to pack up 25 years of history. And Gladys from HR. Crap. We had her and her husband on the boat last summer. BBQing burgers, fishing, tubing. And wow. No emotion. No heads up. Shit.
When a life storm enters our lives, thinking about all of the broken connections, new connections that need to be made, and the process of reconnecting, rebooting and rebuilding, trigger emotional responses (that debris of hurt and fear) as well as physiological sensations.
The emotive response (hurt and fear) and the physical sensations are TRAUMA.
Trauma is triggered when our mind and imagination interprets the facts that our brain is collecting.
When you stand at the bedside of your child who battled leukemia so bravely for five years and your brain begins to realize that “this is the end” and your mind assembles those facts into a clear picture that your child will soon die, your soul and body respond.
Trauma is the real time, in the moment, right here and right now emotional and physiological response we experience when our mind interprets the world around us.
Trauma is ALSO the immediate, in the moment emotional and physiological response we experience when our mind memory recalls and paints a vivid past life experience.
Trauma is ALSO the immediate, in the moment emotional and physiological response we experience when our mind imagines the “future”, a future scene that may never play out.
Most people enter counseling, go to their church, turn to drinking and/or drugging, become angry, become isolated, spending days on end in their underwear in the basement of their home watching Netflix and playing Xbox while eating Cheetos. Only to come above ground days letter looking like an Oompa Loompa.
Some of us, me included from time to time, attempt to triage trauma felt in the moment. There are times when I recall the death of my children. Kyle died in 1996 and Dakota in 2002. Yet, when my mind plays those dusty newsreels or my imagination creates a sequel feature of what could have been, what SHOULD have been emotions and physical sensations launch immediately when the memory or imagination play in the drive-in theater of my mind.
Those emotions are deep, dark, powerful and completely unwanted. The physical sensations are my brain’s attempt to protect the body by launching the fight, flight, freeze response and taking my defenses to defcon 5.
Those toxic and boiling emotions and physical sensations designed to help me run my ass off to move away from danger or to kick the shit out of something in response to being threatened, must go somewhere. And if I cannot run or fight, those emotions and physical sensations build and build and build until all hell breaks loose and the fit hits the shan.
Those who effectively and in a healthy way triage their trauma do so through the development of a set of psychological fitness skills that ultimately lead to a happy healthy life.
Those who don’t continue to suffer with trauma.
Healing is, by its very nature, a natural attempt to triage the trauma we feel in the moment so that we may heal what our wounds and manage what frightens us so that we may live a happy healthy life.
Trauma is a waving, warning flag, flashing signal, bullhorn and huge neon sign that screams “healing” that tells us each and every day we need to heal. Miss the signals and stroll head on into a train or on-coming traffic.
To avoid being crushed by an on-coming train or traffic, we must learn how to triage trauma in the moment it is experienced. Thus, we need to develop a set of psychological fitness skills that become the manner in which we manage the fear that we experience and heal the wounds that cause us pain.
We must also develop our own and customized unique healing and grieving plan. No two grieving and healing plans are the same. All of us are uniquely crafted and uniquely made. We all have a unique personality and temperament as well as a one of a kind life story. Thus we must work hard and persevere so that we may overcome adversity by building our own unique healing and grieving plan.