Transforming your life isn’t easy. I wish I could say it was. I wish I could give you a five-step plan to make it happen. I wish I could sign you up for a series of Reiki sessions that would heal everything that needs to be fixed.
But it’s not that simple. A few months ago I wrote a blog post about how there is no magic bullet when it comes to healing. There is no one way to create change. Gurus, religious figures, celebrities, and authors usually want to make it sound like they have all the answers. They have THE plan that will fix what ails you. They have the visualizations and exercises you need to create the life you want. I can tell you from experience, that it is rarely this simple. Yes, every person selling a “program” has some miracle stories to share. But there is no single program that will work for everyone.
I’ve been on this healing journey for 15 years now, and I can very honestly say that I’ve tried a lot of things that have helped and nothing has been THE ONE answer for me. Which is why I keep trying things. I keep uncovering parts of me that want to be healed. I'm often unearthing pieces of my psyche that need to be loved back into wholeness. Areas of my body that need to let go of old hurts so it can put itself back together. It’s a process. One that has no specific end point and no clear path to follow.
This is because we all have our unique combination of (T)trauma, family issues, religious/cultural background, personality, and history which means each of us has to do completely different work to heal what is broken. We each need a different combination of catalytic events to get us moving and support along the way to keep us going. We each need to work with different therapies and professionals. The transformation work I do will not be exactly what you need.
I believe that all healing is self-healing. You are the only one who can heal your own body and mind. Nicole Le Pera writes in her book How To Do The Work that self healing is an act of self-empowerment. You decide that you no longer want to live with the damage life has inflicted on you so you stand up and go find what you need to fix it. In her view, you have to do the work every day to make new choices that create healing. In her book she gives a lot of suggestions for how to do this work and she never suggests that it is easy. If you want to learn more about her perspective of holistic psychology, check out her blog at The Holistic Psychologist.
Even though all healing is essentially self-healing, that doesn’t mean you do the work alone. I don’t think anyone heals on their own without any outside input. Part of the process of healing is figuring out what you need to heal and then finding the help you need to make it happen. It’s really hard to heal a damaged mind and body from within. It often takes wise people to see you from a different perspective and offer the guidance you need. It's like everyone has a slightly different mirror they can hold up so you can see yourself in ways your own mirror doesn’t reveal. You need that alternate perspective to uncover things you can’t explore on your own. Particularly for those with severe (T)trauma, you need someone to hold a safe space for you as you work through your deep pain.
Whatever you are working through, you can find practitioners out there to help you. Therapists, counselors, coaches, psychologists, guides, directors, and gurus are around every corner waiting to help you. There are many traditional therapies out there including psychoanalysis, hypnosis, talk therapy, narrative therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (read this article for more examples). In this post Energy Psychology I talk about some of the great healing work coming out of this new field including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Thought Field Therapy, Tapas Acupressure Technique, Emotional Freedom Technique, PSYCH-K, and others. There are other less mainstream types of therapy such as Gestalt therapy, equine therapy, and family systems therapy (I’ve been fascinated with this one recently. Here’s a website to learn more). People are making some ancient forms of healing available such as shamanic practices, dreamwork, ancestral healing, etc. Energy work such as Reiki, IET®, Karuna Reiki, sound healing, light healing, crystal work, and more is much more available than ever before. Yoga, massage, acupuncture, Rolfing, Trager, and other types of body work are also popular right now. Meditation can take many forms and influence healing on many levels. I know people who do their work with spiritual directors and life coaches. I even know some people who have resolved some significant issues by visiting Tarot card readers, psychics, or mediums.
What I’m trying to illustrate with this long list is that there are MANY ways to do the work. Whatever you are dealing with, there are probably a dozen different ways to tackle the problem. However you want to work on your broken spots, there are many professionals you can find who are willing to help you get there.
How do you know which one is best?
Honestly, everything out there has strengths and weaknesses. Nothing is THE BEST. I would say that the one you are willing to try right now is the one that is best for you at this moment. I’ve tried a LOT of stuff over the years. Some things I did just once. Others I went back over and over again to work with that particular person or that particular system/therapy/process until I felt I had done the work needed in that area. Some things I have cycled in and out of several times. Whatever I was doing at the time, that is what was best for me.
Remember, no one thing is going to be the magic that fixes all your problems. You need to work consistently every day on whatever is most important at that moment to create healing. As new things come up to heal, you will need to do different work. As your work changes, so will the people you need to support you.
As I mentioned before, I’ve been doing this work for many years and I still find that I need help sometimes. I’ve been stuck on a few things over the last two months and just haven’t made any progress breaking through. I knew I needed an outside perspective to look at what was going on and see things in a different way. One day I was cruising the internet and came across a woman nearby who does “soul guidance sessions” (You can find her remote sessions here: Bodywork — Sun Dog Yoga). Something in me felt good about this option, so I signed up for a session. Last week Shari and I talked for an hour and a half and I came away with some really great perspective I hadn’t had before. She sees energy differently than I do, so she could see blocks that were basically invisible to me. Through our conversation Shari helped steer me in a direction that has proven to be very helpful. I’ve been doing some good work ever since. Work I probably never could have done on my own because I couldn’t see the problem.
Next week I have a session scheduled with someone else nearby who does Gestalt equine therapy along with Reiki. (You can check out her in person sessions here: Step Into Joy) I’ve been curious about this for a long time so I pulled out the business card and set up an appointment. I have no idea how it is going to go or what will come out of it. That’s the best part of working with other professionals. They have their own perspectives and specializations that can see things no one else can. I’ll have to post an update after the session. I’m sure it will be interesting!
As you can see, I practice what I’m talking about! Doing the work is a process. There are MANY ways to do the work and MANY people to help you along the way. Sometimes the help you need is obvious and sometimes it isn’t. It requires trying things and experimenting with different professionals and practices. You may find something that really clicks and you work with it for years (I personally love Reiki) until you need to try something else. You may use a bunch of different types of practitioners at once because they all offer different things. There’s no one way to do this and YOU are the only one who can figure out how to navigate it.
And navigate it you must. If you want to heal, you have to do the work. If you don’t want to pass on your issues to your kids, you have to do the work. If you want to transform your life, you have to do the work. There is no shortcut. Every day requires you to choose to change. Every new thing that comes up for healing requires that you find what you need to make it happen. Ignoring it gets you nowhere.
So how do you figure out what therapy/person is right for you? Here are a few suggestions:
Research a lot of different healing modalities and figure out what you are comfortable with and what you aren’t. Make three lists: Yes, No, and Maybe. As you read about each practice, put it on the list to record which ones you are willing to try. For me Tarot is on the “no” list. I’m kind of fascinated with it I’m not comfortable enough to jump in. A lot of energy therapy I now love was once on my “maybe” list, so I’m glad I tried it. Quite a few of the things on my original “yes” list never really did the trick for me. So leave yourself open to trying things and experimenting with stuff that feels like a possibility.
Once you have some general ideas of what you are open to trying, then look for specific practitioners you might work with. Ask around and see who other people work with. (Don’t be ashamed to ask. You’ll be amazed at how many people have worked with therapists, counselors, etc.) Browse websites and read the stories of people offering professional services. See if you connect with anyone. Trust your gut and don’t overthink it. I’ve worked with some people just because I’ve read their website and figured that they would understand what I’m going through.
Once you find some possible practitioners to work with, send out inquiry emails or set up quick discovery phone calls. Sometimes just a short interaction with someone will make it clear whether or not you want to work with them. Again, trust your gut. If your five minute phone call leaves you feeling awesome, then that’s a great sign that you should move forward with that person.
Try it. Sign up for one session and give it a test run. If you hate it for some reason, then at least you’ve tried and you probably learned something along the way about what you need and what you don’t. It can be really scary to put your mess in front of someone you don’t know and let them sort through it. Just remind yourself that the work isn’t always easy and it won’t always feel good. Part of doing the work is getting over the fear blocking you from getting help. Take that step no matter how uncomfortable it is.
Be willing to try multiple things. Even if you find one practitioner you like, you can always set up an appointment with someone else. You can do some deep psychotherapy work and see a Reiki practitioner at the same time. You can practice meditation and spiritual direction together. You can see a life coach and an equine therapist on alternate weeks. Every practice/practitioner will help you in different ways. Don’t overwhelm yourself (obviously) but don’t be afraid to do more than one thing if that feels right to you.
Trust yourself. Trust yourself to know what you need. Trust your intuition to guide you in the right direction. Trust that you will know if something doesn’t feel right. Trust that you will know when it is time to move on.
If you start on these steps and NOTHING at all feels right or you can’t find ANYONE you trust, then you’ve got some major stuff blocking your intuition and ability to receive help. I’d suggest starting with some energy work that specifically focuses on opening yourself up to outside input and allowing the right people to flow into your life. You can do energy work without talking about your issues, so it can be an easy way to start to heal those underlying problems keeping you from doing the work you need.
I also want to say something about the cost of doing this type of work. Many people immediately think of all the money this requires and stop right there. The first thing to know is that a lot of good work can be done with books, podcasts, articles, videos, and other free resources online (that’s why this blog exists!). There is no excuse to not begin doing your work since so much stuff available at no cost. Once you get to a point where you think you need to pay for someone to help you, then you have some options. There are good practitioners who take insurance or who have sessions you can afford. Take time to explore your options before you decide it’s too expensive.
Also, the intersection of money and energy is really complicated. Many people say that what you put into the work is what you get out of it. So the more you invest (time and money) into your healing process the more transformation you will get out. I think there is some truth to this. If you feel really strongly that you need something, then you will focus on making that happen NO MATTER WHAT. This is in many ways part of the healing process. So don’t immediately assume the lack of money will put this work out of your reach. Decide what you need and do everything you can to get it. You may find support coming to you in surprising ways.
If you are feeling the need to do your work, then it’s time to get started! Do some research, ask around, figure out who can help you on your healing journey. Keep your eyes open for resources, information, and opportunities to fall in your lap. Be willing to take some risks, try some stuff, and explore things you never thought were possible. Remember, healing isn’t easy. It is going to take some stretching and effort to make it happen.
If you aren’t feeling the need to do the work, then it’s still time to get started! It’s time to figure out what is keeping you from it. It’s time to figure out what fears are holding you back. We’ve all got stuff to work on. If you think you don’t then, to be blunt, you’re not living in reality. Go figure out why you can’t see what you need to work on.
I’ve given you a lot of things to explore above. There are no excuses. Get started today!