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The Wounded Healer Within

A Reciprocal Relationship

There exists a reciprocal relationship between the severity of the challenges and restrictions we encounter, and the calibre of values, strength and wisdom we can develop.

Or, to put it in different words, the severity of your losses and limitations suggests an equivalent of the empowerment and new strengths that you can develop.

A fairly well-known example can be found in that a blind person can develop such a refined sense of touch that, in time, they are able to read with their fingers.

For many artists, composers, painters and poets, their creations that carried deepest meaning were forged out of the agonies they suffered as a result of physical and/or mental handicaps, poverty, betrayal and social stigma.

“Here it is for you to be your worst self or your best self. Please do not ever doubt your strength and abilities. This may not be the life you expected, certainly not the life you would have chosen, and yet it is yours. Not because you do not deserve any better, but because you are the only one in the world who can make something of it and, in so doing, realize your life’s purpose.”
(from the program: Mental and Emotional Renewal in Chronic Illness)

The Trap

It takes great courage, perseverance and discipline to not let yourself get trapped by what lies in the past and is now lost. Likewise, it takes great courage, perseverance and discipline to not compare yourself to those whose lives appear to be navigated by ambition, vitality, function, and performance.

For you, a different reality is now your share. A reality in which you have to create motivation, purpose and meaning, possibly each day anew.

This is just one example of the empowerment and strength that you develop but which you, or others, might take for granted.

Usually, for the average person, ‘life’ waits just outside the door each morning: family duties, work, social engagements, appointments and many other activities that fill the day with purpose and meaning before it has even started.

But living with the limitations and other symptoms associated with one or more chronic health conditions could have entirely reversed that pattern.

Like the explorers of old, we left the land we once knew, to be cast off, drifting across the dark waters with the aim of discovering or, if need be, creating a new world.

By yourself – For others

Notwithstanding the support you have in your life, when it comes to courage, pain and not giving up, you find that, most often you have to do this by yourself.

However, a shift is possible when expanding your focus. Then, the strength needed for your continued efforts can be found in doing things for others.

Transforming loss and suffering into its opposite

Not all problems can be resolved. Trauma cannot be reversed, losses remain, not all pain can be healed, and there are, in truth, only very few illnesses that can be cured. So, then what remains in terms of a life of quality and purpose? What is needed “to create motivation, purpose and meaning possibly each day anew?”

“Shadows are caused by the light behind them. And so, your capacity for suffering intensely reflects also your capacity to love intensely. Would you be the same if all your sorrow had never come to pass? Or did your sorrow, in some mysterious manner, refine and strengthen everything that is best in you?”
(from the course: ‘Mental and Emotional Renewal in Chronic Illness’)

The wound, which causes you to suffer now, will be revealed
to you later as the place of new creation.

Henry Nouen

The Wounded Healer within

Your wound harbours both its pathology (cause) and its medicine. In this, however, that medicine is not a simple cure that would make the wound go away, but the transformation of your wound into its higher aspect.

This higher aspect is realized when, in whatever way, you can use your suffering to be of service to others.

In your struggles and hardship, you have learnt so very much. You have developed insights, wisdom and compassion that maybe could not have come about in any other way.

How can you now use those capacities for the benefit of others?

It is our own hurt that gives the measure of our power to heal

Carl G. Jung

When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers

Henry Nouen