“It is of the first order of importance to remember this, that the shaman is more than merely a sick man, or a madman; he is a sick man who has healed himself, who is cured, and who must shamanize in order to remain cured.” ~ Terence McKenna
From ancient shamans to contemporary psychoanalysts, from tribal medicine women to contemporary doctors, the best healers have always been those who have healed themselves first and then others second.
The most profound healing comes from a wound that has been transformed into a sacred wound. It comes from those of us who are so keen on the crippled animal of the human condition that we are able to provide technologies of higher healing that gives that animal wings.
Here are five ways you may be a wounded healer…
1.) You are able to transform wounds into wisdom
“The cure for the pain is in the pain.” ~ Rumi
You have learned how to BE the wound. As C.S. Lourie advised, “Be broken, it’s where you begin to heal.” Indeed. Be wounded, it’s where transformation begins.
Anxiety, angst, mortal pain, these are not diseases. They’re neither wrong nor negative. They’re neither a weakness nor an illness. To be anxious is to be alive. To have angst is to be aware. To experience pain is to be human. These are fundamental ingredient entrenched in the human condition.
How could we not be anxious? How could we not feel angst and pain? Life is a sequence of impossible decisions veiled by uncertainty. We are fallible creatures cast out upon an infallible cosmic ocean without a boat or even floaties, let alone a paddle. Thus, you have integrated your pain.
You have reeled in your angst and transformed it into grace. You have honored your anxiety by employing it as a catalyst that has the potential to launch you into artistry and catapult you into mastery.
2.) You study darkness
“Doctors study medicine. Teachers study education. Healers study darkness.” ~ Mark Lundy
Someone once asked Jung, “How do you find your shadow?” He replied, “How do you find the dragon that has swallowed you?”
As a wounded healer, you realize that the only way to find the dragon that has swallowed you is to enter the wound that subsumes you. In short: you study darkness. You slip through the cracks of your comfort zone and enter the cave of your pain. There, you integrate the shadow. You assimilate the monster. You baptize the beast. You honor your inner darkness by shining it’s uncomfortable blacklight into the blinding light of the comfortable world.
This is no easy task. It requires psychological upheaval. Despair and disillusionment are all consuming. The annihilation of the ego becomes the integration of the soul: the marriage of chaos and order, the coalescence of shadow and light, the union of summit and abyss.
But this gives way to the illumination of your healing powers. The flower of your ability to heal has its roots in the depths of your wound. Before mastery, shadow work. After mastery, shadow work. This has been the way of all healers since time immemorial.
3.) You study madness
“Great wits are sure to madness near allied, and thin partitions do their bounds divide.” ~ John Dryden
You realize that your madness is a vital part of you. Thus, you have learned how to alchemize medicine out of the madness. You have chosen magic over predictability. You use your madness as a tool for your genius. Your genius wields your madness like a sword, cutting reality into magical slices of detachment.
It stands at the precipice of the abyss and, rather than balk, transforms demons into diamonds while also transforming the absurd into poetry and art. Your ability to discover the healthy within the unhealthy makes you more adaptable to the vicissitudes of life. You’re more flexible regarding transience and impermanence.
You’re better able to withstand the thrashing about on the rollercoaster ride of life. Like a flower breaking through concrete, your ability to find glory in sadness, sweetness in madness, and existential masochism in pain, leads you to a flourishing despite all odds.
Such medicine is counterintuitively healthy. It’s existentially challenging. In some ways it is a curse for those who carry it. For in order to maintain such medicine, the tug-o-war rope between life and death, finitude and infinity, darkness and light, pain and passion, mortality and immortality must be held taut between madness and genius.
4.) You question “answers” and seek the truth
“Trust those who seek the truth. Doubt those who find it.” ~ Andre Gide
You realize that a part of healing is the ability to entertain a thought/concept/belief/theory without accepting it. There’s nothing saying you cannot use wisdom to leverage more wisdom. You just don’t get stuck/hung-up on anything in particular because it will curtail wisdom and limit the full range of your ability to heal.
You stay ahead of the curve by not clinging to any aspect of the curve. By doing so, you allow imagination and humor to keep you sharpened and pointed true as a spearhead for next level health.
You see how imagination is superior to reason. And the only thing superior to imagination is a good sense of humor. This good sense of humor keeps you detached in a healthy way, giving you a bird’s eye perspective of the human condition in all its gory glory —from veins to vanity, from bones to bone-headedness, from fragile heart to Antifragile third eye. You see the full scope of the human animal from biology to psychology, from nihilism to existentialism, from believer to deceiver.
You see how it is the very fragility and fallibility of the human mind that makes it so terribly easy to deceive itself into a rigid belief. As such, an aspect of your healing is next-level questioning. You self-interrogate, and then you socially-interrogate, to prevent the kind of rigid and fixed thinking that entrenches itself in invulnerability and then defends itself through violence out of fear of vulnerability.
As Anatole France said, “It is the certainty that they possess the truth that makes men cruel.” As such, you plant the healing seed of curiosity to prevent the cruelty that can arise from certainty.
5.) You are never not broken
“The man of understanding dies every moment to the past and is reborn again to the future. His present is always a transformation, a rebirth, a resurrection.” ~ Osho
You keep the Wounded Healer archetype superior to the Healer Archetype so that rebirth is always superior to life and death. The Healer archetype is the opposite of the Wounded Healer archetype. Where the healer assumes herself healed, the wounded healer understands that she is always in the process of healing. Where healers have an ego about their ability to heal and be healed, wounded healers remain humble within their wounds.
As a wounded healer, you realize that healing is more of a process than an end. Health is more of a continuum than an addendum. You understand that you must continue to heal, and be healed, in order to remain healthy.
As such, you persistently sacrifice the Ego to the Soul. In true Akhilandeshvari (the Never Not Broken Goddess) form, you fall apart and come back together again stronger than before. Your heart has been broken and put back together so many times that it doesn’t know how not to be resilient.
Robustness emerges. Antifragility manifests. You discover the remedy to misery is found deep within the mystery of misery. As such, you attain higher healing by surrendering to your suffering. You embrace the life-death-rebirth process. Pain is your guide through the maelstrom of the human condition.
And although your wounds are deep, they are sacred. They are trophies. They are steppingstones into higher health. They are proof that you have lived and lived well.
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