The Wounded Healer

A woman came to see me, with main complaints including plantar fasciitis, fibromyalgia, migraines, IBS, and a concern about her weight. She was upset with her body, and perceived it to be failing her in some way. She also had lost hope that she could get better, and so was primarily focused on losing weight, which she thought was somewhat more probable of an achievement.

Typically, a therapist or doctor would see this person, evaluate the symptoms, refer for special tests if needed, do body work, and address nutritional and lifestyle components. This could be extremely helpful, and many symptoms may resolve over time, or at least diminish in part.

However, my client had wounds that would never be completely healed by this type of “by the book” healing. In fact, most people have wounds that cannot be fully healed with traditional healing techniques.

A “wounded healer” is a person who can heal the wounds at every level: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Wounded Healers are those clinicians who have sustained wounds of their own, and have found the way through that pain, healing within themselves the trauma that has caused the pain. Once a healer has moved through something, they are then able to help others through the same thing. We become adept facilitators in our client’s journey towards complete physical and emotional health.

A wounded healer asks the deeper questions:

– “How do you feel about your body?”
– “What do you know about all of this?”
– “What does healing look like for you?”
– “Tell me about some times in your life that have been difficult in some way for you.”
– “what have you heard about your body or your health?”
– “what do YOU think may be causing all of this?”

In the case of my client, traditional medical interventions and bodywork had not been effective in treating any of her symptoms, and in fact all interventions made her feel worse. She and I had the above conversations, and she got the opportunity to think about what the underlying emotional causes for her physical symptoms might be. Together we made a long list of experiences, fears, beliefs, and difficult relationships that she thought were contributors to her pain and symptoms.

6 sessions of emotions-based work later, she has zero pain in her feet, no body pain, she can eat what she wants without flaring her IBS, she hasn’t had a migraine in months, and she has more self-love than she’s ever had in her life. The deeper wounds are being healed.

It is only because I have successfully healed many of my own wounds that I could be present with this woman and help her first see, then heal, her wounds. She did the healing, I was just there to help it along.

When I graduated from medical school, my wife Angela crafted for me an embroidered picture with the following words on it.
DRTERRYGORDON.COM

Obligations

While sitting at the park with my kids, I can see all of the numerous very important lessons that we as parents teach our kids about relationships.

One day, I watched as a little girl about 9 years old was fighting with her friend and had walked away from her. The other little girl was crying, and the little girl’s mom was chastising her for abandoning her friend. Her daughter started to cry, saying “Mom, I just needed some space.” Her mom told her to stop crying, go hug her friend, and play with her immediately or she would call her dad to take her home immediately.

My daughter Mia watched the whole thing unfold, and remarked that when you need space, you need space, and that she thinks the mom could have handled it better. The mom wanted her child to “play nice,” and thus she taught her daughter that it was not ok to cry, that her needs didn’t matter, and that she was responsible for someone else’s feelings.

Sometimes, we have responsibilities to others that we can’t neglect, like taking care of our children or going to work. Other than things like that, we have a lot of made up obligations that we either place on ourselves or allow others to give us. These can be things like family events, answering the phone, going out to dinner with a person we don’t really want to spend time with, or watching a TV show with our spouse when we’d rather read a book. When we do things against what our heart really wants and needs, we tell ourselves that our needs and feelings are not important.

Teaching kids how to always take care of themselves and do what makes them happy is probably the best life tool we could ever give them. This includes helping them determine how to navigate the decision between what is an expectation or obligation, and what is in their highest good at that time. This is empowering.

And for those of us who as adults are still learning how to hold our boundaries, we can learn to say “no.” No is a complete sentence. Interestingly enough, when we learn to take care of ourselves and hold those boundaries, people don’t violate them as much. And the anger, frustration, self hatred, guilt, and feeling taken advantage of can stop.

Anger in Childhood

Anger is often the most “unsafe” emotion that we feel. We don’t feel entitled to it. We suppress it immediately. We explain it away or even berate ourselves for feeling it. We may have seen others react in anger and have been hurt as a result. Much of our ability to feel and express emotions comes from how we were treated as a child when expressing them.

“Less knowledgeable parents interfere with their children’s anger by ridiculing them, ignoring them, isolating them, goading them on to greater violence, punishing them, distracting them, hitting them, or trying to make them laugh (“ I see a smile coming on …”). When a parent interferes with a child’s anger response in these heavy-handed ways, the anger increases and is redirected at the parent: now the parent is the one who’s violating the child’s sense of well-being by interfering with a natural and necessary outlet of emotion.

Most parents stifle this secondary outburst of anger, too, only this time with more force. “Don’t make a face at your mother! What a naughty girl. You’ll get a licking for that! Shame on you!” Instead of allowing the anger to flow through the child’s system the first time it’s expressed, the parent unwittingly fans the anger, then dams it up. The anger becomes trapped in the little girl’s stomach, muscles, and jaw, and becomes an enduring wound.

If the parent represses the girl’s anger not just once but over and over again, a deeper injury occurs: the girl will eventually dismantle her anger response. Ultimately, it’s safer for her to cut off a part of her being than to battle the person on whom her life depends. When her brother abuses her, she will no longer respond with a surge of anger. She’ll find some other route. She might run to her mother for help, or pretend she’s not mad, or find a more devious way to get back at him. The clean, instant, automatic response will be gone.”

We take away our children’s natural ways of handling emotions when we don’t allow them to be expressed in the moment. Of course, we must protect our children from hurting themselves and others, but by allowing them to verbally express how they feel, we help prevent years of further emotional trauma.

We have a joke in our family. Whenever one of us is in the middle of a crisis, our standard line is: “Uh, oh. I’m getting a feeling. Where are the brownies?” It’s pretty common for people to be afraid of-or at least uncomfortable with-feelings in general. We often have difficulty understanding, deal…
POSITIVEPARENTING.COM

Inner Unicorn

From Chapter 1 of The Last Unicorn:

Unicorns are immortal. It is their nature to live alone in one place: usually a forest where there is a pool clear enough for them to see themselves – for they are a little vain, knowing themselves to be the most beautiful creatures in all the world, and magic, besides. They mate very rarely, and no place is more enchanted than one where a unicorn has been born. The last time she had seen another unicorn, the young virgins who still came seeking her now and then had called to her in a different tongue; but then, she had no idea of months and years and centuries, or even of seasons. It was always spring in her forest, because she lived there, and she wandered all day among the great beech trees, keeping watch over the animals that lived in the ground and under bushes, in nests and caves, earths and treetops. Generation after generation, wolves and rabbits alike, they hunted and loved and had children and died, and as the unicorn did none of these things, she never grew tired of watching them.

One day it happened that two men with long bows rode through her forest, hunting for deer. The unicorn followed them, moving so warily that not even the horses knew she was near. The sight of men filled her with an old, slow, strange mixture of tenderness and terror. She never let one see her if she could help it, but she liked to watch them ride by and hear them talking.

“I mislike the feel of this forest,” the elder of the two hunters grumbled. “Creatures that live in a unicorn’s wood learn a little magic of their own in time, mainly concerned with disappearing. We’ll find no game here.”

“Unicorns are long gone,” the second man said. “If, indeed, they ever were. This is a forest like any other.”

(The hunters ultimately leave the forest empty handed.)

______________________________________________

Here we have a wonderful description of a magical forest and the beautiful, immortal being that resides within it: the Unicorn. It is surrounded by trees, animals, and water that, simply due to the presence of the Unicorn, have themselves become magical. We are told, essentially, that whatever comes near the Unicorn cannot help but become magical itself.

Except, unfortunately, this does not appear to apply to humans. The two hunters enter the magical forest looking for deer because they need it to keep from going hungry. The older hunter still believes in magic, but it makes him uncomfortable. He is afraid of it. The younger hunter appears to have given up on magic altogether, saying that the forest is not magical, but simply “like any other.”

And so it is that this scene describes the truth within each one of us. We are that forest, and within each of us is a host of “ordinary” things: animals, plants, rivers, and rocks. But, also living within us is a magical, immortal being: our Inner Unicorn. Everything that comes near that Inner Unicorn is changed into something magical, gaining special powers beyond what is ordinary. And when our Inner Unicorn is allowed to roam free, our forest remains an a state of Eternal Spring, always full of life and beauty.

But, also within the forest of each of us is a hunter. Some of us have within us someone more like the older hunter: a part of us that knows deep down in our hearts that magic is real and alive, but we’re scared of it. We don’t understand it, and that makes us uncomfortable. Some of us have within us someone more like the younger hunter: we have given up on magic altogether, and we insist that the world is only full of the ordinary things we see every day.

When we allow either of these hunters inside of us to be in charge of finding our “food,” we miss out on all the true beauty of our magical forests. And we go hungry as well! This is similiar to the seeds in the Gospel of Matthew that fall anywhere but onto “good earth.” When that happens, the seed does not take root, or does not grow to be a strong tree that bears fruit. And with no fruit, everyone around us, ourselves included, goes hungry. But when we allow our Inner Unicorn to be in charge of our forest, we live in eternal spring, and the forest supplies all of our needs by magic!

We can see and feel this magic in our lives every day. But if we are scared of it, like the older hunter, the magic is no use to us. If we reject that magic exists, like the younger hunter, the magic is no use to us. And because we haven’t allowed this magic into our lives, we continue to go hungry, or even make fun of people who believe in magic.

But magic does exist. Just because we don’t see it clearly or understand it completely doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Magic is real. Like a tiny seed that can become a huge tree, magic is a part of our nature. It is simply the part of nature we haven’t become familiar with. It is the best part of nature. And when we deny this, we have not allowed the seeds that Christ has sown to take root in the good ground within us. So today, I say to you, let yourselves be good ground. Let yourselves be magical ground. And when you do that, just as Jesus did, you, too, will bear magical fruit.

Unspoken Words

The unspoken words in our hearts need to come out.

“I love you.”

“I miss you.”

“I forgive you. Please forgive me, too.”

“I need you to know ____.”

Inner dialogue is a hypnotherapy tool that can be used to speak those words to people who have passed away or to someone in our life that we feel too afraid, angry, ashamed, or sad to speak to. This can be some of the most transformative work one can do.

Miraculous things happen during these sessions and in the aftermath. There is such a sense of peace that comes from opening up your heart and speaking your truth without fear of being hurt in some way. Many people who do these sessions experience very healing “real life” conversations with the person that they had the inner dialogue with. If the person they talked to has passed on, the session brings them a lot of closure and people often say that they can finally let go of their loved one.

This is some of my favorite work to do with clients, as it always has surprising and profound results. If you are interested in trying this kind of session, or know someone who would benefit, you can reach out via our website at www.denverpainandperformance.com and book online here:

https://denver-pain-and-peformance-solutions.cliniko.com/bookings#service