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May 26, 2017

Is our Obsession with “Healing” Holding Us Back?

We are a society obsessed with healing.

At first glance, this signifies our culture’s increasing maturity and desire to spiritually and mentally evolve. As a prepackaged concept it sells well, and everyone wants to buy it. But what happens when you take the concept of healing home and try it on?

I have watched many friends become consumed with self-help products guaranteed to take you to the next meta-level of wellness. But each program seems to reveal another primary wound. Each mantra makes a pointed contrast between your inner world of chaos and this brief reprieve.

In a world where human standards of efficiency and effectiveness are measured against our computer counterparts, the effort never seems to be enough. At its worst, I have seen the quest for healing become a thinly veiled affirmation of unworthiness.

I am not trying to denounce the measures we take to heal, but only the intentions we bring to our actions. What has helped me find greater balance is a meditation on the difference between the desire to heal versus the desire to be loving.

When we say we need to be healed, we admit to being broken. Our mood regulation is atypical, our chronic pain has robbed us, and our dark night of the soul keeps us far away from dawn.

Ultimately, we want to feel wholeness and integrity in our lives and this is a noble endeavor. But there is a noticeable shift in our perception of the journey when we ditch healing and focus on loving ourselves instead.

When we want to love ourselves better, we admit that we are worthy. To love ourselves means to accept our present place as the source of all goodness. This may mean we have some work to do to be able to feel the reality of this goodness, but we are tender, soft, and patient with ourselves, just as we are with any other lover in our life.

When I resolved to love myself instead of heal myself, not much on the surface changed. I still did sporadic yoga sessions, scribbled away in my gratitude journal, and ate ice cream in the bath tub. But instead of my inner dialogue screaming at me to decide if what I was doing was right or wrong, I began to ask myself if it was loving.

This takes away some of the moral heaviness. And it gives you more delightful wiggle room. Because sometimes, putting off that extra reading you have, and taking some time to luxuriate in warm bubbles with a little chocolate dribbling down your chin is exceptionally loving.

We make hundreds of choices every day, and it is an important tool of self reflection to ask ourselves why.

Did we head to the gym after a long day of work because we were afraid of gaining weight, or do we choose to exercise as a form of self-respect?

Do we stay in the relationship because we are afraid to lose them? Or does being with others help us feel free?

Do we yearn to be healed because we fear something essential has been taken from our being? Or do we learn to love ourselves because we finally feel worthy of receiving the love we try to give everyone else?

The actions are the same. The intent is everything. And it can make the difference between an eternity of feeling squashed into a narrow life, or finding the feelings that hugs you just right.
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Author: Polly Orr 
Image: istelfliege/Flickr 
Editor: Travis May

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Polly Orr