“Time doesn’t heal anything, it just teaches us to live with the pain.”~ Itachi Uchiha
Many of us have the belief that time will heal all wounds.
That if we just wait patiently, over time we will magically heal. Our grief. Our losses. Our trauma. Our heartbreak.
Time can lessen our pain, but it most definitely will not heal us.
Today’s society is all about the quick fix. About the positive mindset. About getting over stuff and not being seen as negative. It’s about faking it until we make it. Pretending all is well. Putting on a smile. Compartmentalising our pain. Burying our sh*t. Distracting ourselves. Hiding parts of ourselves and the truth of how we feel in case it makes others uncomfortable, in case we are judged. It’s about wearing our masks. It’s about everything inauthentic, and it’s nothing about true, deep healing.
It’s all bypassing. We have an industry built on bypassing. A society encouraging distraction and busyness to stop us from feeling. Positive vibes only. And it’s toxic.
Then we have the influx of “things” we should do. Read self-help books. Listen to podcasts. Recite our daily positive affirmations. Meditation.
Healing is not going to come from these things alone. If it was that easy, nobody would suffer and struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, or anything else related to our mental health. We would all be living our best lives, as our highest selves, and at our fullest potential. All of these things are worthy and helpful as tools that may inspire and awaken us enough to do the work.
But they are not the work.
Life responds when we show up authentically to do the work. We need to stop hoping that time will simply heal us and everything will miraculously improve, because the reality is it won’t. It may seem like it does in the short term, but long term, those wounds will still be open and gaping and those cycles will still repeat themselves.
We need to acknowledge that reading a few books, listening to some podcasts, and forcing ourselves to be constantly positive isn’t doing the deep work. Reading can give us new ideas and perspectives. Podcasts can provide different insights. Positive affirmations may temporarily put us in a better headspace, but if we don’t feel what we are reciting then the words are sadly empty. And meditation is a wonderful modality to help us relax, provide clarity, and start the journey into ourselves. But all are merely tools on our road toward the work.
So what is the work?
>> Showing up prepared to see the truth. All of it, even the horribly ugly, dark bits.
>> Understanding there is no quick fix and we do need to look back in order to move forward. We don’t need to ruminate on our past, or have that past define us, but we do need to see it. Accept it. So we can learn and grow from it.
>> Being open and vulnerable. Nothing grows in closed places. Being strong is not hiding our emotions; being strong is feeling them.
>> Taking a long, hard, honest look at ourselves. Our behaviours. Our triggers. How we react. See the ugliness and the mess; we all have some.
>> Being completely truthful, no matter how hard that maybe, with ourselves and others. Nothing changes in the darkness of dishonesty.
>> Creating space to sit with our feelings in solitude. No distractions. No rug-sweeping. Having time alone to unpack, reflect, and digest is an absolute necessity.
>> Willing to get uncomfortable because inner work can cause discomfort.
>> Journalling what comes up so we can reflect.
>> Understanding how we behave when triggered. Do we project? Are we anxious? Angry? Scared? Judgmental? Bitter? Resentful? What insecurities sit underneath our triggers?
>> Being prepared for the emotions that arise because healing and growth require us to feel in order to move through.
>> Being absolutely willing to change the parts of our life that are not conducive to happiness. Doing the work means having the courage to live the truth of our life.
>> Finding a good therapist we connect with. Seldom can we navigate the path of inner work without the support of a therapist. Why? Because we only know what’s in our conscious minds and we need someone to help us uncover what’s in our subconscious because that’s where 95 percent of our thoughts, beliefs, and triggers come from. We cannot heal and grow from something we are unaware of. We need to learn how to reframe things.
I get it. Some people are afraid to address their wounding. Afraid to see the truth. Would prefer to continue doing the surface stuff and listening to those that tell them it’s as simple as changing your thoughts. Yes, we do want to change our unhealthy thoughts, but how do we do that if we are not addressing the core issues that create these thoughts? If we don’t even know what those core issues are? Simple answer: we can’t. We need to do the work.
Then we have those who have the opinion that they can never change. They are who they are. And I’m sure most of us know people like this. Truth is they either don’t want to change, or they don’t know how to because we are all capable of changing. Some also have a conditioned belief that people can’t change; you know, the old “leopard can’t change its spots.” Change comes through healing and growth, and it happens when we stop our own bullsh*t and do the work.
Recently, I watched a video of a “relationship coach” who had someone ask the question, “How long does it take to heal after a breakup?” This coach completely dismissed the person and sarcastically asked whether the person had been cut or punched; why else would they need to heal? I was floored by such a toxic response.
The absolute lack of awareness, emotional intelligence, and psychological knowledge from a “relationship coach,” is so dangerous. It’s also unethical and lacks any integrity. But it was in this moment that I realised this “coach” was unhealed. Was projecting from an insecure place with an unhealthy belief system. He has no business “coaching” anyone.
As a qualified and trained therapist, it disappoints me that we allow unqualified people who have not done the work on themselves to give advice. As a therapist, I believe there are three things needed: (1) to have the appropriate training, (2) to have lived experience, (3) to have done the work. I would never ask someone to do what I would not do myself.
The brutal truth is if we don’t talk about our pain, our bodies will. If we continue to distract ourselves, we will never feel truly fulfilled. If we don’t reflect inwards and learn from challenging situations, we will continue to repeat the same unhealthy patterns. If we don’t listen to our truth, we will forever live a lie. And if we need to source our happiness externally, we will be forever chasing something. If we don’t start the work of healing our trauma, we will bleed all over those who never cut us.
We hear a lot about trauma, and I think this word confuses people. We think trauma only stems from abuse and neglect. But there’s so much more to trauma.
Sometimes trauma comes from:
>> Not feeling seen or heard; our emotions and feelings are dismissed
>> Not receiving what we need emotionally
>> Not being validated
>> Feeling like we don’t belong
>> Not feeling understood
Let me explain. As a child, our emotional needs must be met for us to grow into secure adults who form healthy attachments. Often we have good childhood memories and cannot pinpoint any specific events that could make us struggle with self-worth, insecurities, or relationship attachments.
Sometimes this is due to our parents not receiving these things, so there’s an element of generational trauma and repeated patterns. Or sometimes it’s simply one or both parents dealing with their own issues, being emotionally unavailable—even if only for a short period. If that period of time was between birth and the age of seven, it’s likely we have been affected, as this is when our belief systems form. The truth is most of us have some sort of trauma that we’ve addressed, are addressing, or have no idea that it’s what’s causing our underlying issues.
Trauma can manifest in many different ways. Insecurity and projection. Co-dependency. Jealousy and need to control. Unhealthy attachment issues—too clingy or too distant avoidant or anxious. Inability to be faithful. Addiction issues. People pleasing. Avoiding conflict. Inability to be alone. Insecurities manifesting as ego. Always chasing and searching for things to fill the voids. The need for external validation. Not feeling whole and worthy. Anxiety. And so it goes on.
I would question anyone who says they have no healing, belief changing, or growth to do as someone who is scared or unwilling to go within. The truth is we should always want to be working on ourselves.
Time is many things, but it will not heal you. You may bury your pain. Convince yourself you’ve healed or transformed, but I know that’s not the truth. Deep down, you know that’s not the truth. Fear will make people bypass and ignore the hard stuff. Fear will keep you forever stuck. We can’t get to the top of the staircase without walking up the stairs—so why do we think we can leap over all the steps that need to be healed?
I read something incredibly insightful recently that I will share by Lucas Salame.
Five Truths the Self-Help World Ignores:
>> Changing yourself is not just about changing your thought patterns. You must also address the underlying trauma creating those thoughts.
>> You are unlikely to get, or enjoy, the things you are trying to manifest if you do not first understand what feeling you are unconsciously chasing underneath the material things.
>> Being obsessed with staying positive will fuel your darkness to operate through you unconsciously because you are constantly ignoring it.
>> An obsessive need to be productive is usually reflective of not being able to love yourself unless you are accomplishing something.
>> The process of loving yourself is not as simple as flipping on a switch. It requires a long journey of uncovering the deep wounds that have blocked your heart from being truly open.
You can lie to yourself, pretend, and fake it. Or you can be honest, see your truth, and do the work.
In time, the work will be your greatest gift.