Contrasting paths


Photo by Constantin Shimonenko on Unsplash


For many years as a young boy, I attended a summer camp in the pristine mountains of Southern California. My friends and I took several opportunities to explore this beautiful terrain, but as I got older, I was able to venture out alone. I hiked out of earshot from the others and simply watched the birds, rolled pinecones down the hill, all while listening to the continuous songs of the swift breeze whistling through the pine trees. In that moment, all the troublesome thoughts I may have carried with me were washed away.


Since I’d been exploring these mountains for several years, finding my way back was no problem whatsoever. Had I not been sure how to get back, my new-found serenity would have been overcome by the anxiety being lost.


For those who enjoy the thrill of discovering new places or hiking on remote trails, it’s always a good idea to have a map or at the very least, an inkling of how to return safely. There may be thrills and exhilarations along the way, but it can all be undone if the road you’re traveling on leads to a dead end or no way out.


Our healing journeys can feel like we are starting off on an excursion. We may begin with the full intention of finding a remedy for our painful emotions, but if there is uncertainty about what we are supposed to experience, how will we know when we arrive or possibly have traveled completely past it?


The destination


Everyone starting out on their healing journey is anxious to feel the first signs of relief. The emotional pain often accompanying difficult or abusive circumstances can linger for years. Sometimes, the devastating effects from only one of these events can hold us back from living a fulfilling and empowered life.


The challenge for many people is planning a course when they may have no clue in which direction their healing lies. They could be driven by a strong conviction or sincere intentions but being unaware of how their healing transpires can thwart their first few attempts. This may discourage them from believing emotional healing is possible and cause them to believe it will never be within their reach.


The pathways to healing are different for everyone. No matter how distinctly and accurately I am able to explain mine, my course will not always travel in the same direction everyone else needs to go. It may act as a guide or provide suggestions, but each of us hikes our own trail and will arrive at different destinations. Ultimately, only we, ourselves, can know which direction our journey should be taking us.


While I explored those mountains in my youth, my scenic hikes could have never led me to an ocean with waves crashing on the beach. If I were anticipating that, I would have been sorely disappointed. Likewise, if I had been kidnapped and set free in mountains I had never hiked before, no matter how beautiful the scenery was, my fear, panic and anxiety would not allow me to receive any of Nature’s tranquility.


A few clues


Many of the world’s spectacular displays of Nature’s wonders have been mapped or can be easily navigated by GPS. However, modern technology has not yet been equipped to map our healing journeys. Although it’s not impossible to experience emotional healing without knowing where one is headed, it is always best to have some awareness of where we are going or how it appears. This is when having a trained counselor to guide you through this process is extremely valuable. For now, let’s explore a few ideas by returning one more time to my mountain adventure.


As I sat there breathing in the wonders of nature, it created within me a calmness. Any troubling concerns were quieted by the beauty of my surroundings. I was completely at peace. As long as I remained there, nothing could interrupt this serenity.


My state of mind was changed. Transformed. Filled with tranquility. Being in this condition is one of the ways emotional healing manifests itself.


We often suffer in silence because our anguish and grief take place in our psyches. There are no visible or tangible wounds obviously requiring our attention. It all happens mentally. When we agonize over past traumatic events, our emotional state is impacted. Although physical symptoms may manifest themselves, they quickly subside when we can return ourselves to a calm state.


The path to emotional wellness leads us to a cam and tranquil state. Perhaps there were times when listening to music produced a similar, calming mood and helped you forget your troubles. That is the direction your course should take you. The goal is to learn to remain in this condition and not allow those past traumatic experiences to rob you of that emotional stability.


Always remember that because this transpires in our minds, we strengthen our healing by having faith that it’s truly happening. When our confidence grows, so does the intensity of our healing. The biggest deterrent to success is questioning or rejecting our efforts and results.


Unlike physical wounds where we can see or feel the improvements being made, emotional healing thrives on our ability to trust in our endeavors and embrace our victories. We must stand guard and not allow fear, disbelief, or shame to rob us of our determination and accomplishments.


Validation from others is helpful, but it must ultimately lead us to a road of more confidence in ourselves. For without trusting in our achievements, victories, and successes, we will not be heading in the direction which our emotional healing intended us to go.

If you are ready to start your healing journey, it is my passion to help guide you. Please feel free to contact me directly or email me at: john@shamedoctor.com

My thanks to Constantin Shimonenko on Unsplash for the picture looking similar to my youthful hikes, and I look forward to your comments.

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