When we don't heal our pain, it comes out sideways and derails our lives and damages our relationships. Unhealed pain destroys our ability to achieve true intimacy by keeping us hidden from one another. The imprint of those old patterns is like a giant magnet. It continuously attracts the situations that are most likely to repeat the cycle of failure and disappointment, and it repels the experiences that would most likely be beneficial. That imprint also obscures our vision. It only allows us to see the positive opportunities presented to us in hindsight, because we are still looking back. Then, we are faced with even more sorrow as we realize what we have let pass us by.
To avoid this scenario, heal the wounds of your past. When we don’t allow ourselves to acknowledge the pain—the deep, agonizing soul pain that results from historical trauma—we aren’t able to recognize that we are all carrying some measure of that pain within us. Instead, we allow it isolate us and keep us cut off from one another. We also fail to recognize that the cause of that pain is not only a violation against us, it is a violation against life itself and its mournful cries echo through our DNA, becoming lodged in our genetic memory.
I have learned that the only way out of pain is to stop running from it; to meet it, sit with it, feel it, and see what it has to teach you. Pain is an incredible teacher. It provides us with a clear signal that tells us when we need to transform. That signal is ringing loud and clear.
The anger, the shame, the guilt, the rage, the frustration, and the fear are all outcroppings of the pain that we carry. The wound that is causing the pain that we are now feeling within our societies is not new. But, how we respond to it can be. When properly addressed, this pain can mobilize us and lead us toward the transformation that we so desperately need. If we can find the courage to face it openly and honestly, it will heal us.
Trading Apathy for Empathy
Elie Wiesel wrote, “Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.” The center of our universe is right here, right now. It doesn’t exist somewhere out there. The universe exists within us all; it is in our backyards, our kitchens, and our community centers. This is where we must meet and begin having real conversations about the pain that we all carry; we must come together with awareness and understanding, and replace our rigidity with openness and trade our apathy for empathy. It will be uncomfortable, and it will certainly cost us. But, the cost of not doing so will continue to be paid in lives lost. This is an unacceptable price to pay. So, we must show up.
The time has come for us to transform, individually and collectively; to face one another honestly; to deal with our sordid history, and to heal our collective wounds. We can stop the endless repetition of these vicious cycles, but it will require us to have courage. We must somehow find the courage to face one another, remove the masks and feel the pain. Then, we must find a way to reconcile that pain, heal it, and move forward.
Engaging the process of societal healing requires us to reach for individual moments of radical awakening, and to move those moments from the silence and stillness into the walk of our daily lives. It requires us to face ourselves with absolute honesty and to face the truth of each moment, whether that moment is comfortable or not, without trying to repress it, suppress it, or understand it; to just be there with that raw naked truth and feel it in all of its fullness.
If we try to understand it, justify it, or explain it away, we prevent ourselves from allowing it to teach us what we need to know and from experiencing the depth of what we truly feel. This denial deprives us of more than the moment that is lost; it also deprives us of connection to the divine. In those moments of truthful discomfort there is incredible beauty that exists, for it is here where you find that there is no barrier between you and creation. There is no distance between you and your Creator. In those unfiltered moments we are able to find true ecstasy.
Excerpt from Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change by Sherri Mitchell, published by North Atlantic Books. Copyright © 2018 by Sherri Mitchell. Reprinted by permission of publisher.