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The Three Critical Principles of Healing

And time is not one of them…


After two weeks of non-stop rain, the sun came out. Yesterday she was hesitant, but today she’s bold and unapologetic, bathing the snow-capped mountains in a romantic sheen, patterning my living room with ever-unfolding forms born in the marriage of light and shade.

I sat all morning basking in her warmth. I’ll be honest: none of the items on my to-do list bothered me as I was doing nothing.

I’m familiar with the pang of worry that I’m not doing enough.

I’m familiar with the guilt that creeps in, blaming me for letting Robert work harder than I do and shaming me with thoughts about a ruined future which will be all my fault!

I’m also familiar with the fear that I’ll be forgotten when I’m not making myself seen.

But this morning I was totally satisfied with the eye of the sun caressing me, letting me know that I’m not alone, that I’m doing ok, and that there’s no room for self-doubt about whether I’m doing it right.

There’s a very common saying that time is a healer.

“Just give it time,” we say, implying that time is a magic pill that makes our pain go away and brings us the clarity, self-assurance, guidance and protection we yearn for.

Time alone doesn’t lead us to a guilt-/shame-/self doubt-free place where we can bask in rest

Time is not strong or skilful enough to decondition habits and responses to life’s demands that have been set through experiences.

If anything, time left to its own devices only reinforces old conditions, cementing them deeper and deeper in your automatic system.

Since the first time I learned I needed to work hard and try harder in order to be seen, get the attention I needed, and be protected, nourished and guided, a lot of time has passed.

In that time, the impression that I needed to make an effort became a repetitive response to any kind of challenge. Then a habit. Then a sense of ‘me’.

At the point where things become a sense of ‘me’, our essence is buried under habits and perceptions, and wounds or traumas become the misleading compass of our actions, choices and even our dreams.

One of the crucial principles of healing is guidance. What we do with our time is what builds the capacity to heal our wounds.

Healing happens when we find the guidance we didn’t have before

“It’s time wasted”, “time flies”, “a time-bomb ticking”… These are just a few examples of how our thinking is shaped to compete with time instead of living it fully.

Most of us need to relearn how to live fully in the time that we have. This is even more urgent and poignant with wounds and trauma.

I witness this paradox with my clients so often:

A woman seeks my help when she’s reached an edge where she can’t take any more of the pain of her mum-story and how it manifests in her daily life.

How long will it take [to not feel that pain]?” she asks at first.

The pressure to not spend too much time in healing threatens a sense of identity that perceives the time invested in healing as a fault.