We could all use a little help from time to time.
If our childhood didn’t f*ck us up, the fact that we’re a finite and fragile speck of sand on the endless beach of the universe certainly will. There’s just no getting around the profound struggle of being a person—sorry to break the news.
As someone who has struggled with a severe chronic illness for many years at the raw age of 24, I’ve always been looking for ways to heal myself, both within and without. What many people don’t talk about with physical illness is the emotional burden that comes along with it. My body isn’t the only thing that’s been extremely compromised, but my heart and soul as well.
All that I’ve been doing for the past few years, on top of simply getting by, is searching for ways to justify this suffering while maintaining the courage to love. That’s the most meaningful approach that I’ve found, through the treacherous uphill battle of chronic illness. If anything, I’ve become an expert at suffering with grace—and that’s been my most valuable asset in surviving this.
The world really needs to heal, because if we don’t heal ourselves, we can’t meet our potential and feel the fullness of life. When we look at our population, there’s a vital component missing: mental health.
The most valuable commodity is not gold, it’s well-being—and this resource seems to be at an all-time low. Maybe we’ll chalk this up to our consumer culture, or something to do with capitalism, or the hazards of social media, but I actually can’t let myself do that. My field is healing—learning how to endure suffering while holding onto a sense of dignity and optimism—so I have to place some of the blame for the state of society on the people whose job it is to heal the mind.
I’ve always felt like modern therapy was missing something essential, a certain human quality.
I was thrown around from therapist to therapist a few times growing up, and I found that for the most part, they were completely unequipped to heal anyone—especially themselves. If anything, a couple of them probably needed to get looked at for a mental evaluation themselves.
There’s a popular notion that for someone to want to be a therapist, they must have all sorts of problems for them to be driven toward this kind of career—it’s just that we hope they’ll have figured out a couple of those problems beforehand. I think it’s absolutely appalling that therapy is looked at as a job. It’s not a job. It’s a public service. You’re endowed with the power to tend to the intimate and highly sensitive aspects of another human being’s soul, and it doesn’t seem right to me when we only look at that as a job—a way to make ends meet.
Carl Jung used to talk about how psychotherapy was more like a religious experience than a career choice:
“We can get in touch with another person only by an attitude of unprejudiced objectivity. It is a human quality—a kind of deep respect for facts and events and for the person who suffers from them—a respect for the secret of human life. The truly religious person has this attitude.”
I believe therapy is meant to be a holy space.
There is nothing more important than the process of true healing, and there is nothing more transcendent than the act of healing. Not just repairing, not just listening to someone rant about their problems while thinking about what we’re going to have for dinner later, but engaging in a truthful conversation that leads both the therapist and the “patient” into having deeper insight while offering modalities that can be practiced independent of the consultation.
It’s easy to criticize and harder to take action. That’s why I’m starting an online therapy practice—offering private sessions to people who would like to get a little more out of life. I’m going to teach others how to inquire, meditate, and live in a more meaningful way.
I know what it takes to heal, because I’ve been to the bottom of the barrel many times through my struggles with illness, and have climbed my way back to the top. There is nothing more healing than being truly seen and heard—and from there we can begin to build a powerful routine to keep us on the right path.
We all have a dream. We all have something deep inside of us that wants to express itself—it is only a matter of allowing ourselves to get in touch with our truth through the thick layer of conditioning that has prevented us from doing so. I’m a student. I’m always learning. I don’t have the absolute answer to everything, but I can help steer people in the right direction. That’s worth something to me.
I know of many good therapists. This is not an attack on any of them. It’s an immensely difficult career path, and most people who choose it are of good will. I just feel that our approach to mental health needs to be upgraded.
I want to help bring back that “human quality” to the healing arts—and I believe I have the skill set to make an attempt in my own way. To heal ourselves is to heal the world.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy & Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen