In the unavoidable struggles and wounding that life presents all of us, it would be nice if there was a simple equation for successful healing.
“Do X and you will achieve Y.”
I so wish it could be that straightforward and predictable.
Because the truth is, healing is a mystery. We are all beautiful and unpredictable recipes.
1 cup of genetics
2 pinches of trauma
1 room-temperature semi-financially-secure life in the US
1 1/2 tablespoons of securely attached relationship
bake for 30 years aaaaaand….
who KNOWS what we’ll pull out of the oven!
We can have severe trauma backgrounds and thrive and we can have tons of privilege and still need to use all our might to claw our way out of bed each day. We can do great despite a hole-y foundation of dysfunction and we can come from loving, supportive families and struggle to get out of our own way. And everything in between.
Still, without an equation, without being able to solidly predict what we’ll pull out of the oven of our own particular recipe, there are 2 things that I see as consistently leading to the most healing.
- Being Able to Find a Sense of Security and Safety
We all need a place to return when we’re upset, angry, stressed. To center. To soothe.
Hopefully your family or the folks who raised you gave you a sense of what that feels like and some skills for getting there. But lots of times they haven’t. Maybe it was a teacher or a friend’s parents. Maybe it was a pet.
I’m talking about having access to a sense of security. I’m talking about being able to feel your chest soften. Being able to let your shoulders settle. Your belly get soft. Maybe there’s a color associated with it for you. Maybe music takes you there.
(BTW: lots of folks find a pseudo-place like this from addictive behavior. I get it. Addictions work pretty well as substitutes. Until they don’t. I’ll write about that another time. Suffice it to say, I’m talking about a non-addicted way to get to this secure place.)
“Safe places” like this aren’t woo. They don’t have to be about connecting with your higher power (unless that floats your boat 🙂 ). They’re what happens when we find our way back up the brainstem and back into the ventral vagal part of our nervous system. This is the place in our nervous system that can find equanimity. This is the place where all the high-level thinking happens. It’s where our big ideas and vast connectedness and all that shit happens. Up there with the frontal cortex. It’s good stuff.
- Knowing that Ultimately, that Place of Security is Within You
Yes, the outside matters. We all need—deserve—a safe place to live. A warm space. A clean space. Some nice folks around. Food. But at the end of the day, we can have all this and much more and still feel unsafe, unloved, and just not okay. This is one of the most important parts of my work: holding that safe place for people with whom I work. I’m not talking about a cushy office–I’m talking about connection, acceptance, okay-ness. Right here. Right now. With all the mess. Without all the answers. I hold it for people as they develop it for themselves. I work with people who have easy access to their own and people who don’t believe it exists or can exist. Who don’t believe they even deserve it.
If you don’t have a method you use regularly to get yourself re-connected to that sense of security, find one. And if you can’t, find a therapist, a shaman, a mechanic (jk), whatever works for ya.
If you have questions about how or comments about your process, please contribute in the comments below.
Happy Almost Solstice and Happy Healing!