Have you ever noticed how often people treat our efforts at healing as if it’s selfish?
Yes, our culture may generally be getting better at accepting counseling and therapy as valid and necessary things, but that doesn’t stop the accusations of selfishness when we make changes in our lives to support our healing.
We get accused of being selfish when we set boundaries to keep ourselves safe and allow ourselves space to heal.
We get accused of being selfish when we refuse to perpetuate unhealthy or toxic relationships patterns.
We get accused of being selfish when we end relationships or limit the time we spend with people who do not support our healing.
We get accused of being selfish when we tell the truth about our wounds and our lives in the process of healing.
It adds salt to our wounds to be treated as the “bad guy” when we’re already struggling to heal deep wounds, and it can undermine our progress when we start believing those accusations.
People may claim to support our healing, but unless they also support us telling the truth about our wounds and doing whatever is necessary to heal those wounds, then what they really want is just for us to hide any evidence of the wounds that might make them uncomfortable without actually doing anything to heal them.
But here’s the thing: our healing is never a selfish move because our healing is never just about us. True healing takes our wounds and uses them to transform us into wounded healers that become a source of healing for others.
As Henri Nouwen writes in his book The Wounded Healer:
Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. The main question is not “How can we hide our wounds?” so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but “How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?” When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.
The next time someone pressures you to hide your wounds to make them more comfortable or to stop making changes in your life to support your healing, hold onto this truth.
Your wounds are not a source of shame. Your healing is not selfish because it’s never just about you. Every move you make toward healing—no matter how uncomfortable for yourself or for others—is a move toward becoming a source of healing for the world around you as you become a wounded healer.
Keep working on your own healing for yourself and for all the rest of us. Our world needs it.
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