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  • Writer's pictureBryan Owens

What it *ACTUALLY* Means When People Tell You Healing Comes From Within

Let's try a thought exercise:

Most of us have a thought-life, or a belief, or a pattern of behavior that sabotages things for us. It could be our relationships, our own feelings of joy and security.

What's yours? What is the thought, or belief, or behavior that, if you could live without it, you feel your life would be improved?

Do you have it? Okay, now I want to tell you a story about a person I made up, but who is based off of real events. As I relate this story, I want you to think about your own 'shadow' (the thing you'd prefer to live without).

A man in his mid-thirties came to see me because he was having problems with rage. The problem was that he loved to get into fights. So much so, he ended up earning a reputation for his penchant for winning fights on his cell block during his stint in the penitentiary.

He delighted in his rage, and he hoped people would cross him, so that he could have an excuse to take his rage out for a ride.

This is where I want you to keep your own particular issue in mind.

As we worked together, we came to wonder when he developed his fighting ability and what were the circumstances that made it necessary. The moment in his life when he found the power to fight off a nastily violent parent was a triumphant moment for him.

His rage and his fight response saved him. So naturally, underneath the way he was "supposed" to feel, there was the way he truly felt, which was a kind of pride and a protectiveness over his ability to fight, because it was the thing that saved him.

This is what seems to be true about most people. The thing that is causing you the most angst and dread in your soul, the things you do to your self and others, the internal saboteur — I would not be surprised if you discover that thought, belief, or behavior was originally designed to protect you in some way.

Sometimes there is nothing for the psyche to do but to fracture the self if that is going to be most helpful for the time being. This is why we use terms like brokenness and why we seek wholeness.

If this is the case for you, can you have compassion for yourself at a time in your life when you needed to do what was necessary to survive? Whether it was developing anxiety, depression, numbness, intrusive thoughts, self-attacks, panic, eating disorder, the list goes on….I believe the key is learning not to hate the part of you that broke when you were suffering.

There is often, if not always, great power in our wounds. Can you have the compassion enough for yourself to see it there.

The man I made up is the story of many people I have worked with. And based on the real events, he learned the way to return to the young man he had been, found the courage to embrace him and tell him he does not have to fight anymore.

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