It is a very common scenario (sadly): Two people have been through a similar or shared trauma, and one is further ahead in healing than the other.
For simplicities sake (and, because this is often how it looks), let’s a say we have a male-female couple, wherein the man is feeling pretty ok about things, and the woman is still very upset.
Here is a possible conversation, exaggerated and made generic for clarity:
Woman: Ohmigoodness, this is horrible, I’m upset and I’m never going to feel better because this is all so terrible.
Man: Honey, you shouldn’t be so upset! For this reason, and that reason, things are not as bad as you think! It’s better to be less upset. [The man is trying to help!]
Woman: You just don’t get it! Things are horrible and this is why!
Man: [Starting to sound a little defensive]…I get it, this thing happened that isn’t great but you are way too upset about it. You should just get over it!
Woman: You never support me!
Again, that was an exaggerated example but I’m sure the dynamic sounds a little familiar if you are a human being that has ever been emotionally close to another human being!
Part of where the disconnect is happening is the *rate* at which each person is processing (which equals healing) around the upsetting occurrence. The one further ahead in the healing naturally doesn’t enjoy seeing the other person in great pain, and thinks it would be “better” if they would heal faster, and therefore tries to “help”. The one that is further behind in healing emotionally hears/feels/perceives this “help” as judgement that their feelings are not ok or not valid. That puts them in defence mode and they will hold on to their hurt, causing it to pass much more slowly.
So, let’s imagine a situation that is much less prone to judgement of how fast healing “should” occur.
Let’s say that the couple both each cut their hands with a knife, at the same moment. At first, they are both in great pain and bleeding. The wounds are not serious but certainly unpleasant and upsetting. They both take sensible first-aid measures, including applying pressure to their wounds.
For whatever reason, the man starts to experience healing faster. The man’s body quickly sends clotting agents to the wound such that he is no longer bleeding, and releases endorphins such that he is feeling better.
If the woman said “I’m bleeding and it hurts!”
Would the man say, “stop bleeding and stop being in pain! It’s better to not be in pain, and it’s better to not bleed!”…?
I don’t think he would say that! Because he would know it is silly and actually sort of abusive to insist someone change something that they don’t control. It would only make the woman feel bad about herself, and tempt her to feel very justified in her bleeding, like now it is a mark of pride that she reserves the right to bleed. She may even subtly or subconsciously reduce the pressure she is applying to the wound, or even disturb the wound, just to prove that she is OK and it is OK to be bleeding. [Humans are psychologically complex, that that’s OK! ]
There is a natural healing process, that happens it’s own time. Whether for emotional, or physical, wounds.
There are things we can do to positively influence healing processes, both physical and emotional, but ultimately healing is something that we don’t snap our fingers and direct to occur any way that we think is best. It is outside of our direct control.
A crucial part of what we CAN do to positively influence healing, both physical and emotional, is not place demands or judgements on ourselves, or others, about how fast that healing should take place.
That is our healthy role, to support healing by being loving about any giving moment, and certainly we can encourage by providing our perspective, but without any internal sense, or externally expressed idea, that healing needs to happen at any particular pace…
“I was bleeding too but now I feel much better, if I got better I’m very confident that you will too so that’s why I’m feeling better for both of us, but I know you are still hurting, so in the meantime can I just hold you?”
Hint: When you really begin to understand and master this concept, you won’t have any judgement that healing needs to take place *at all*. Then, you will have begun to tap into the most powerful healing-encouraging-energy available to us…True unconditional love and faith.
Michele specializes in working with high performers desiring better, easier results and greater fulfillment.
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