The Grace of a Wounded Healer
Anyone who has ever done or received energy work, spiritual counseling, body balancing, Reiki, acupuncture and even in the traditional forms of psychology and psychiatry has heard the phrase “wounded healer.”
It is a common expression used as a warning for those receiving healing and counseling and also those who help others face their demons or get energetically and psychically well. But it does not necessarily have to be on a professional basis that wounded healers go about their work. The wounded healer is a phenomenon that occurs between the healer and the one receiving the healing or help.
Psychologist Carl Jung used the phrase to describe experiences in the relationship between the analyst and their patient, where the analyst would examine themselves and experience depths of their own pain, in order to understand and heal the pain of their patient. Jung expressed that the experience was entirely necessary to the healing process, as well as warned of its many dangers. Jung was an “out there” analyst but spot on in recognizing the symptom.
So why is it so common that counselors, healers, friends or family members choose a path to help heal others when they themselves have experienced being wounded in the same way. Maybe the core of that is the silly answer of; “it takes one to know one.”
We chose our life journey and all the pain and suffering we experience that goes along with it. Who better to help others who have experienced that same kind of pain but one who truly understands what you have gone through. Sometimes the motivation to help others is an extension of a deep desire to heal a wounded part of yourself.
Some people have the calling, often from very early on in their childhoods, responding to the needs of family members, strangers, or animals with a selflessness that is impressive. Often, these people appear to have very few needs of their own and the focus of their lives is on rescuing, helping, and healing others.
While there are a few who are truly authentic in this giving lifestyle, the vast majority hold an underbelly of needs that lie beneath the surface, unmet and often unseen. In these cases, their motivation to help others is an extension of a deep desire to heal that wounded part of themselves that is starving for the kind of love and attention they dole out to those around them on a daily basis.
For any number of reasons, they are unable to give themselves the love they need and so they give it to others. This does not mean that they are not meant to be helping others, but it does mean their higher self has put them on a path to see the outcome of that healing and then turn it within.
If you are blessed with the grace of personality and drive to continually be there for others, always drawn into life dramas, always rescuing someone from themselves at the expense of your own peace of mind, health and wellbeing, then you are a wounded healer.
Whether it be professional or with family and friends, if your life is a mess and you are still out there helping others before taking care of your own pain, you have been gifted with the opportunity to use the very skills you are blessed with and begin the healing process within your own life.
Signs of a Wounded Healer
Here are some classic levels of wounded healers and how you might turn that grace towards you and begin a healing process of your own. There is a beautiful grace in wanting to heal a world which has caused you so much pain by helping others. Just be sure you don’t put your own healing process in jeopardy while doing it.
- You begin relate to the person’s pain and situation and start losing the ability to focus on your life as you become dangerously close to reliving your own past experiences and feel you must fix them or YOU can’t be happy. The moment you start feeling uncomfortable around a certain person or find yourself avoiding them, do just that. Stop the life line.
- You find you are now actually taking on the pain of the other person. You may even begin to take on the same attitudes, inner feelings, opinions, and dysfunctional personality traits of the person you are trying to help. The moment someone makes a comment to you that you seem different since you have been helping someone and not in a good way, make a suggestion they find someone else to talk to. Misery loves company and that is how you get hooked.
- If you find that your life is now revolving around someone else’s destructive life pattern and if not involved in it in some way everyday, the danger is becoming obsessed with trying to heal their pain in order to avoid having to see someone go through or feel what you went through. You have actually started to absorb their energies and their focus becomes your reality. You will see the change within yourself as others will. Start telling yourself it is ok to not be able to heal everyone and some are unhealable as they enjoy their pain.
- Take all the above situations and if you find yourself with a healer or a friend that becomes too involved and too controlling in your process, your healing has now become about them. If they can just get you to do everything they tell you to do, somehow it shows them they are also better. Find another healer or confident as both of you are now co-dependent in the same painful process of release.
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Susan Z Rich is an emotional addiction counselor, spiritual intuitive and holistic therapist. She counsels others to see life in a more positive way and teaches personal accountability for life choices. She is also the author of several children’s books and Soul Windows…Secrets From The Divine.