The promise of complete healing
Just go into any random therapy website or article and you’ll see the shining promise: “use method X and you’ll be freed and healed completely of your trauma and pain!”. Then, go and try that therapy or any other therapy, and you’ll be met with the simple reality: you may be managing to develop, to free some of your pain, but you are not managing to heal or free all of it. Especially not when your pain is deep and traumatic. The “all suffering can be healed” promise is a false and misleading promise. It is a nice marketing tool, but nothing more. But interestingly, although our repeated experience shows us that not all trauma and suffering can be healed we keep on trying to live up to that paradigm. And the question is why?
An ancient myth is moving your life
They say that Gautama the Buddha who supposedly lived 2600 years ago, discovered the way to complete freedom from suffering, or the stepping off of the wheel or karma. This myth of the perfect enlightenment in which all suffering is completely gone and one exists in a perfected state without any pain is deeply ingrained in our collective mind and spiritual education. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the teaching of the Buddha, but to be totally honest, I’ve never met the Buddha, don’t have any concrete proof of his existence, nor do I truly know first hand what his experience actually was and what he exactly meant. I do see how we interpret these teachings in our day and age.
So what I’m left with is my own experience and the experience of those living beings around me. That’s the real thing I can study and rely on. And my experience shows me that suffering and trauma can definitely be worked on, reduced and even become a force that moves us forward in our evolution and makes us more polished and authentic. But my experience doesn’t show me that suffering and trauma can be completely healed.
Should Trauma and Suffering be Completely Healed at all?
I’ve not come across even one person in my entire life that has managed to fully rid themselves either of short or prolonged times of suffering or completely rid themselves of the effects of past trauma. And I’m including here also the awakened and enlightened people I’ve come to know (including myself). I’ve heard and seen people exclaim dramatic announcements of being “finished” with a certain issue, just to discover that after a short while it surfaced again to take them even deeper.
Now this raises a very justified question: if trauma and suffering can’t be completely healed, what is their creative role in our lives?
If we are bound to live with them for the rest of our lives to a certain extent, what would be an intelligent way to approach them and include them in the fabric of our life, journey and experience?
Adopting a New Paradigm
Suffering and Trauma might very well be intelligent methods of existence to instill in us a degree of discomfort that constantly pushes us to discover deeper beauty, authenticity and wisdom inside of us. Perhaps they are not a mistake, but a very well planned, intelligent agent of cosmic life to evolve through the human form. It may very well be that suffering and trauma are on purpose too big and deep for us to completely get rid of, since in actuality their purpose might be to teach us how to develop our hearts, our humanity and how to forever continue refining ourselves.
There is a great deal of humility in the unarguable fact of the limiting effects of trauma and suffering. No matter what we think of ourselves and what our spiritual attainment is, at any point we can be fully brought to our knees by life and rediscover the basic truth of life: that we have no control; that we are a tiny and humble speck of dust within a great cosmic reality and that in the end of the day what matters are the simple things in life, the very fact that we are alive, breathing, feeling. Suffering always brings us back to the fundamentals of life.
Freedom from the Burden to Fully Heal
Now if we take this new paradigm seriously, it means that our entire relationship to suffering and trauma can change. We no longer need to look at them as these dangerous and disturbing elements in our psyche that should be eliminated, but rather, as intelligent forces that are intentionally placed within us in order to move us into ever growing simplicity, creativity, growth and humbleness. The entire burden of constantly pushing ourselves to heal it all and the judgment that comes along when it isn’t fully healed yet, can be let go of. Now isn’t that a great relief in an of itself?
In a way, we’ve been unintentionally tormenting ourselves with the belief that we should get fully “recovered” from trauma and suffering. We’ve been pushing and pressing ourselves, putting huge amounts of pressure on ourselves along with severe judgment, all in order to fulfill a promise that cannot be fulfilled. Perhaps it’s time for a change.
Perhaps the real purpose of healing is not to get rid of trauma and suffering (since it might not be fully possible), but rather help us stay in movement and not stagnate or get stuck as a reaction to them.
Always Moving, Always Growing
So imagine this: instead of pressuring yourself to achieve the impossible, you simply focus on the real possibility at hand – using trauma and suffering to constantly grow, evolve, ask creative questions, learn to invent new pathways to move in your life, open your heart to ever growing capacity of love, compassion, wisdom and humbleness. Imagine just letting yourself be, just with that right amount of imperfection so that you can truly live the story of your life in an interesting way, like any good story. After all, have you ever enjoyed reading a book or watching a movie that’s devoid of pain, suffering, challenges and trauma? Isn’t that exactly what makes a story truly beautiful, epic and touching?
So perhaps, it’s time we accept the beautiful fact that the book of our life should be written exactly like that: with just the right amount of imperfection to make it beautiful and worthwhile.