Ten Stages of Healing

Change can often be a daunting process that leaves you feeling out of control. When you are in control, you tend to feel secure and comfortable. Change can destabilise your emotions, triggering feelings of insecurity and a greater loss of control. Change can create chaos, confusion, and even symptoms of depression, but it’s presence in your life means that healing is taking place. There are ten stages involved in the process of healing. It’s a universal journey that comes with an easy-to-read map once you recognise the chaos in your life for what it really is. Each stage on the path to healing is necessary and normal. They are:

1. Shock
2. Denial
3. Pain
4. Bargaining
5. Depression
6. Surrender
7. Recovery
8. Rebirth
9. Moving On
10. Philanthropy

A change in your circumstances, large or small, can trigger varying degrees of hurt, pain, loss, grief or deep unhappiness. You can then expect the healing process to follow. A sense of loss, hurt, grief and the healing process can be activated by a conscious decision to let go, forgive or surrender to the reality of losing your job, moving into menopause, getting divorced or losing a relationship, or losing the closeness of a family member, or experiencing betrayal, relocation or death of a loved one. It is also especially important to note that if you have been intensely active in your spiritual growth, or been involved in those pursuits for many years, grief can also be felt as an existential loss due to an ego or identity crisis. Mystics have referred to this as the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’. In fact, any form of shock, denial, pain, bargaining, depression or surrender may trigger the healing process or will indicate that you are in the midst of a healing crisis. Moreover, any major archetypal event that is physical, emotional, mental or spiritual, which brings about a marked change in your life, be it positive or negative, will trigger varying degrees of grief and its need for healing, as the old identity makes way for the new, such as:

• The birth of a child, where you leave your own childhood behind to enter parenthood.
• Marriage, where you leave your identity as a single person behind in order to take on the role of a married person.
• Illness, where you must let go of your identity as a sick person and embrace your life as a healthy person. Or where, for the most part, you have experienced good health, and now you are ill.
• A wounded childhood, where you exit your identity as a broken or wounded person, letting the circumstances that supported a wounded identity fall away from you, as you enter a new identity as a healthy, more care-free person.

The ten stages of healing can be felt on many levels of your being: Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Since everyone is different and so are their coping mechanisms, these stages may not necessarily occur in the sequence outlined below. Some may skip a stage and then return to it later. Regardless of the order, the entire healing process may last for days, months or even years. An important point to note is that you do not need to go through this on your own. It is prudent that you seek professional help from those qualified in the area of counselling or spiritual mentoring or both and if this is not possible, the wise counsel of a supportive friend or understanding relative is recommended.

1. Shock

This stage occurs first if there has been a sudden crisis, trauma or uncontrollable loss, such as the death of a loved one, news of a terminal illness, a betrayal or breakdown in a relationship, or the loss of financial security. Your ability to function as normal may be affected or reduced, your energy levels may drop and emotional numbness, disbelief or the inability to mentally comprehend the situation may be experienced. This is followed closely by denial.

2. Denial

Not knowing what is happening or what the outcome may be causes people to deny their situation or deny their loss. Life seems unreal and leaves you with a sense of ‘this can’t be happening’. Human beings tend to assume that bad things don’t happen to good people, so denial maintains a pretence that nothing has changed and everything is still okay. Denial is usually brief, but it does give you the opportunity to prepare yourself for the next stage. Denial is a natural part of the healing process. It gives you the time you need to fully comprehend what’s happening to you. It’s a safety mechanism designed to stop you from losing control and feeling as though you are going crazy. Once you’re ready to face the situation, you will be able to move on from this stage.

3. Pain

Once you’ve worked through denial and come to terms with what has happened, you will move on to the next stage of healing which encompasses emotional pain in the form of anger, frustration, resentment and even envy. Why did it have to happen? What did I do to deserve this? Why me? These are questions you find yourself asking out of desperation. You might be angry and even outraged at not being able to change the inevitable or you could be frustrated because you are not in control. Resentment and envy are also common emotions because what you are going through may be perceived as unjust or unfair, which can also lead to thoughts of revenge. This anger is usually randomly displaced in all directions and projected onto any area of life, other people or things around you. When you are going through this stage, those around you will not be good enough, they will be to blame or at fault, or doing everything wrong according to you. [1] These emotions will be felt in varying degrees according to your personality type and how much anger, frustration or resentment you allow yourself to release. It’s important to release these negative emotions in physical manner through art therapy or creative pursuits, sport or massage or under the guidance of someone qualified to do so, in order to avoid a build-up of stress in your body. Chakra Self-Healing is also a way to support yourself when you are in this type of pain. Emotional and mental stress that has accumulated over time can cause muscle tension, spasms and physical pain. This can also lead to a noticeable decrease in your health and wellbeing. Every person is different but everybody does experience some degree of anger when going through a time of loss, grief, bereavement or change.

4. Bargaining

Most often due to feelings of guilt, bargaining will follow the pain of anger. Eventually you realise that anger is not making things better, so you try bargaining instead. You give up something, make a sacrifice, or dedicate your life to service hoping that things will right themselves. You might find yourself thinking: ‘If I did this or that then this might not have happened’ or ‘I should have done so and so’, or ‘if I do this then it might make it better’. You may have regrets about what you did or did not do in the past. It’s important not to punish yourself, but to realise that this is yet another stage on your healing journey. Bargaining is what you are meant to do. It’s a subconscious way of trying to balance the scales. Every stage of the healing process has its place on the road to recovery and that includes the recovering of your true self, soul and spirit.

5. Depression

When denial, pain and bargaining do not work, you may find yourself in a period of depression. You begin to feel that you can’t do this anymore, or you can’t go on anymore. Your spirit is low, so your physical, emotional and mental energy is often under par too. You often lose hope of ever getting your life back to normal again. You might feel sad but will not want to express it. You go into a dark and gloomy state where you don’t want to interact with others. Feelings are suppressed and this stops your energy from flowing. This then blocks up your energy field, causing a sense of hopelessness or despair, accompanied by a lack of motivation or enthusiasm. You may feel lifeless and unhappy. This is why depression will sometimes indicate that you are actually in this fifth stage of the healing process, or that you are possibly in the midst of a spiritual crisis that is typical of the Dark Night of the Soul. You will need to take good care of yourself to stay healthy at this time.

6. Surrender

In such an unhappy state, you eventually surrender yourself to the reality of the situation. You’ve reached your limit and had enough, so eventually you say, ‘I’ve give up’. If forgiveness is in order, then you may be ready to do that by now. Another way to help understand the concept of surrender is to use the word ‘resignation’. Resigning yourself to the situation as it is here and now helps you to move on to the next stage of acceptance. It means letting go of perfectionism and entering into wholeness of being, where you learn to accept the good, the bad and the ugly in your life. Does surrender mean losing control, or is it about taking control by agreeing to go with surrender as the best option available right now? If there is a better option available, perhaps you should take it, but if you have tried everything and no other choice is left, then resigning yourself to the situation will be your only option. To help you surrender, practise letting go of the smaller things in your life, so that when it comes to the larger or more complex things, your ability to let go and surrender will be relatively familiar to you. When you realise that you cannot change the situation or your perspective on it, then the way to surrender is to stop resisting the situation and accept the reality of it as it is now. Your resistance creates enormous stress, so surrendering will release it and pave the way for you to experience a sense of relief. Once you have done all there is to do that is humanly possible on your part, you have to stop and let go of the things you can’t have, and appreciate what you do have by turning your attention to all the good things in your life.

7. Recovery

Surrender opens the door to acceptance and recovery. When you accept your situation, it means you’ve come to terms with what has happened and you’re ready to take responsibility for your life and how you feel once again. You reach the point where you are able to express your previous feelings of anger, frustration or hopelessness. You are getting to know yourself all over again, and you are beginning to like what you see. You may find you still want to be left alone to do this as you prepare yourself for rebirth.

8. Rebirth

Once you’ve reached acceptance, you know you are in recovery, where you will naturally move on to the stage of rebirth. You are getting ready to change your life so that you can start again. You’ve come a long, long way and you’re doing well, but you will need even more quiet time to yourself at this stage. You might feel the need to go on a retreat to get to know yourself again. This helps you to move on and create a new beginning for yourself.

9. Moving On

You will have changed many areas of your life in order to reach this point. You may have scrutinised your career, friendships, relationships, money, health and more in order to do some major clearing out of what is not longer useful. As you come out of your time of loss, change or bereavement, and after grieving for what you have had to leave behind, you may find that you’ve attracted new friends and relationships into your life and may even take on a new job or move to a new location. You can be quietly pleased with your efforts. You are moving on to create a new life.

10. Philanthropy

For some, one of the final stages of healing may include a desire to be of active service to others during their healing process. After experiencing your own healing, you may find yourself called to support, inspire and empower others through their healing journey, in a professionally paid capacity, or in a less formal helping manner. Your own experience of healing and recovery can often be a valuable source of wisdom, insights and guidance for others during their times of change and loss.

You will always regain a degree of control and reassurance when you know what is happening to you. This is possible when you are aware of the stages in the healing process. That way, instead of remaining stuck, or left without passion, joy or enthusiasm long after experiencing loss or change, you realise there is a good life waiting for you beyond your current difficulties. Each stage is a normal, natural step towards healing. Attempting to deny your body, soul and spirit’s natural urge to heal will simply slow down, or worse, pause, stop and even reverse your healing process. The hard truth is that unless you allow yourself to heal, by giving yourself permission to do so, you may grow resentful and bitter instead of getting better.

Once you have identified the symptoms experienced when coping with your loss, then you can learn to deal with change, grief or bereavement in a more conscious and pro-active way. You now have a map after being lost in the desert for so long. You can find your way back home, but you are different. Your difficult experiences and the subsequent strengths and resources you’ve developed have transformed you.

Above is an extract from my book ‘A Question of Balance – Colour, Energy and Healing with Chakras’ pp 173-179.

[1] DIY Stress Relief. Seven Stages of Healing. www.diy-stress-relief.com/stages-of-grief.html

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Your Personal Epiphany and How to Have One

Everyone needs a personal epiphany. Every now and then. How long has it been since your last one? Too long? Ah-ha moments can make you feel better. They’re good for your mental and emotional health. If you want to experience a personal epiphany, then you’ll need to start asking the big questions. You know. The ones that start with W. The questions that make you squirm when you’ve been trying so hard to stay comfortable.

The problem is, the W questions become a problem if you keep ignoring them. Remember when your mother used to ask you to take out the garbage, and you would put off doing it? Remember how she had to nag you to do it? The same thing happens when you avoid asking the big questions. Here’s the thing. They will never go away. No matter how hard you try. And this creates another problem. All that energy you have to use to hold the questions at bay? That’s why you feel drained and unproductive. That’s why you’ve lost your drive. And your nerve. It’s why others are overtaking you. Why they are getting ahead. And you’re not. Unless…You start asking the following:

Who am I?

What is my purpose?

Why am I here?

You can take control by asking the big questions before it’s too late. Of course asking will bring change into your life. And if you’re not much of an expert at managing change, then you’re going to avoid asking the big questions. But look. I’ve made something for you. If you’re not sure what happens when you start asking questions about life, and you prefer to know what to expect, then check out the infographic I’ve put together for you:

Ask life’s big questions. Have a personal epiphany.

It’s a universal quest to ask life’s big questions.

You see. That’s not so hard at all. It’s a universal quest to ask life’s big questions. Countless others have been there before. You’ll be in good company. I can guarantee it.

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Your Personal Empowerment Theory and Why You May Need to Realise It

Everyone has a personal theory about life. Although many don’t know what it is. They’re not aware of their personal empowerment theory and how it actually sabotages them. Or how it creates success. Many clients come to me anxious, overwhelmed and miserable. Life feels beyond their control. But it isn’t. Feeling out of control is an indication that we need to take more control.

Design your life to reflect your truth by Gail Goodwin

Make the most of your life. Live it like it’s the only one you will ever have.

You can take control again by identifying a personal empowerment theory about who you are, your purpose and potential. Your personal empowerment theory influences the circumstances in your life and how well you manage it. It influences your thoughts, words, feelings and actions. Realising your theory can help you to answer the big questions.

  • Who am I?
  • Why was I born?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Is there more meaning to life than this?
  • What am I meant to do with my life?
  • What is my purpose?
  • Do I have a purpose?
  • What is my potential?
  • Do I have potential?
  • How do I realise my potential?

When you realise your theory, you put yourself back in the driver’s seat. In charge. As the author of your life. Once you know your personal empowerment theory about life, you will not only be back and in control, but you will be able to identify your purpose and who you are. So you can clarify your highest potential.

Once you’ve defined your theory then you can gain access to an unlimited source of wisdom that you can call on for the rest of your life.

So that you can:

  • realise who you are
  • realise why you were born
  • realise the meaning of life
  • realise what you can do with your life
  • realise your purpose
  • realise your potential
  • design your life to reflect your truth

I like to think that I don’t tell others what to do and most of the time that’s true. But not if I feel it can be of some help. So here it is. This is what you need to do:

You need to realise your personal empowerment theory and how it affects your success and failure. You need to find out who you are. You need to identify your purpose so that you can make the most of your life. Live it like it’s the only one you have.

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A Personal or Spiritual Crisis?

There is a difference between an identity crisis and a spiritual crisis. An identity crisis involves your personality. It manifests as confusion about the roles that you play in life, concern about approval from others and your image,  issues of self esteem and self sabotage.

A spiritual crisis breaks into your soul.

Everything in your physical, emotional and mental worlds lose their appeal for you.

Image by Benno Poeder

When you begin to reject the physical, emotional and mental gifts from spirit in favour of a pure and contemplative connection with the Divine then you know you are on the brink of the dark night of the soul. Here’s what you can expect.

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How do I develop self-awareness so that I follow my inner guidance?

Archetypes are tools that can be used to develop self-awareness. Archetypes are universal patterns of behaviour that manifest as roles that we play.  According to Caroline Myss (2001) we all share four roles. They are the Child, Victim, Prostitute and Saboteur. These roles can influence our mindset. Our mindset can influence the roles we play. We slip in and out of a them without thinking, without self-awareness.

archetypes for self awareness

Archetypes can indicate your challenges and solutions. Image by Benno Poeder

Therefore, every role we play, the thoughts we have, the emotions we experience, the words that we speak and the actions that we take may be productive or unproductive. How well we play our roles may depend on the awareness of our own mindset and the impact that a productive or unproductive mindset can have on the world around us. Here are the four mindsets we need to be aware of if we want to develop self-awareness.

Child

Challenge: Responsible vs Irresponsible

A productive Child mindset knows when to be serious and when to lighten up. To do this we can:

  • Enjoy ourselves rather than being serious all the time
  • Be resilient rather than rigid
  • Be strong enough to learn from experience rather than avoiding the issue
  • Be dependable rather than unreliable

Victim

Challenge: Protect vs Endanger

A productive Victim mindset knows when to be pro-active and when to be vulnerable. To do this we can:

  • Set and maintain our personal boundaries rather than being used.
  • Stand-up for ourselves rather than let ourselves down.
  • Move on rather than dwell too long in self-pity
  • Safeguard rather than jeopardise ourselves or others

Prostitute

Challenge: Ethical vs Unethical

A productive Prostitute mindset knows when to compromise and when to stand firm. To do this we can:

  • Be loyal to our values rather than compromising our integrity
  • Negotiate a win/win deal for all rather than selling out ourselves or others
  • Be true to ourselves and others rather than losing trust
  • Maintain our personal honour rather than lose our dignity

Saboteur

Challenge: Constructive vs Destructive

A productive Saboteur mindset knows when to listen to the critics (or the inner critic) and when to listen to inner guidance. To do this we can:

  • Be objective rather than biased
  • Supervise our thoughts, words and actions rather than overlook them
  • Be guided by our conscience rather than shutting it down
  • Be productive rather than unproductive or counterproductive.

How do we know if the voice in our head is the inner critic or the inner guide? We need to ask: Is what I am about to say or do responsible or irresponsible? Will it protect or endanger myself or others? Is it ethical or unethical? Is it constructive or destructive? We can develop and improve our self-awareness by asking these four simple questions.

 

Reference

Myss, C 2001, Sacred contracts: Awakening your divine potential, Harmony Books, New York.

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It’s Your Call to Respond to Your Calling

There are preliminary steps you need to take before you can follow your calling. This is why many people don’t respond to it. Not because they are afraid of their calling but because they don’t know where to start. They’re overwhelmed by it. Or they don’t have a yearning for it because they don’t have the energy for it.

Your calling and how to respond to it

It’s up to you to prepare yourself to respond to your call

But here’s the thing. No one is getting any younger. No one. Not one person on earth. The truth is, time is short. Your time to respond to your calling is running out. Most of the time you waste time thinking and doing things that are irrelevant or even detrimental to your mental and emotional health.

You avoid taking responsibility or you take on too much. You play the victim or you prey on others. You sell your soul to the highest bidder. You sell out others. They sell you out. You sabotage yourself. You sabotage others. They sabotage you. You damage your soul and deplete your spirit. This is bad for your body. Stress and tension create anxiety and that can lead to depression. It’s a difficult cycle to break.

How can you respond to your calling when you hardly have the energy to drag yourself to work? Or worse, you don’t have the energy to get up in the morning.

You have to prepare yourself so that your mind and emotions are ready to embrace your calling. You have to be ready to prepare yourself. You have to be in a state that is ready to respond.

So how do you prepare for your calling?

One of the first things to do is to clear the air in your relationships. Now is the time to act. Clearing the air in your relationships doesn’t mean that these people will be out of your life. Not unless you want it that way. It’s your call. Clear the air so that you can be free to be who you need to be. Free to respond to your calling.

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You need coaxing to dive into your potential. Okay, here’s some not-so-tough love.

If you’re afraid to dive into your potential right now, developing a taste for it might help you to feel more at ease about it. All you need to do is wake up prepared to be amazed every day. Sounds easy but if you’re not prepared to be amazed every day, then you’ll need to ask why and what you need to do to be ready.

Is your mind set for amazement or not? Yes or no? It’s your choice. You decide. You are in control of your mindset. You are in charge. Isn’t that amazing?

Genius at work. Be prepared to be amazed.

One way to develop a sense of readiness is to look for the potential in others. Another way is to look for the potential in your current circumstances. Yet another is to look for the potential in upcoming events. One more way is to look for the potential in objects that you own or could own.

Actually, if you look for the potential in everything and everyone around you, then you can hardly miss it. And when you’ve developed the habit of looking for the potential in everything and everyone around you, then you might find yourself diving into your potential without a second thought. It will feel like second nature to you. This is where you want to be. In a place where recognising the potential in all people, places, events and things comes easy to you.

To answer the “why” of not being prepared? The big scary thing about your own potential is that you can’t see it until you dive in. First. It’s easier to see the potential in other people, places, events and things, but your own potential is not usually visible until after you dive in. Then you can reach it. You will have to take a leap of faith into yourself. So start by looking for the potential in others, then move on to looking for the potential in events, then places and then objects. Be on the lookout. Prepare to be amazed.

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Dive Into Your Potential. One More Lecture in Tough Love

It is your duty to be the best you can be. And I’m not talking about your body. I’m referring to your spirit. The atmosphere that surrounds your soul. The energy that you emit. The energy that drains others. The energy that inspires them. Your personal atmosphere. Your ambience.

Dive into your soul.

It is your duty to dive into your potential

It is your purpose, your spiritual responsibility to reach into your potential. Yes, into your potential. You reach into your potential because it is inside you. Not outside. It’s an illusion to think that you will find your potential outside of you. Your soul is in you, not out of you.

So what is your potential? At first, reaching for your potential will mean doing things that you love to do and being things that you love to be. It’s all very nice and a lot of fun. This is entry-level spirituality. Once you’ve been living what you love for a while, the next step is to do and be what you don’t love. What you don’t like. Maybe even what you hate. Yes. Think about it. Makes doing what you love as a path to your potential seem a bit lame don’t you think? And it’s lame because you’re limiting your potential to manifest in one direction only.

Your comfort zone.

Doing and being what you don’t like pushes you beyond your comfort zone. It builds character. It teaches you how to be resilient. Reaching into your potential is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. It’s essential for the evolution of consciousness within the collective soul.

Doing what you hate as a path to your potential? Now that’s a challenge to strengthen your spirit. Are you ready for it? You’ll be doing it for humanity.

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