Artwork © 2015 Jocelyn Patrick

Myths About Healing

Caroline Myss (1997), suggests there are five major false beliefs, misconceptions, or myths that cause people to be unable or unmotivated to heal their wounds.

Myss (1997) states:

First myth: My life has to be organized around my wound experiences.

My bad experiences have completely changed my life. My wounds define my life. Every one of my life problems is interpreted and explained in light of my wounds. Therefore, I need to be with people who understand me and my bad experiences. As a result, most of my human contacts are with people who are especially understanding of my wounds.

Dwelling on the history of wounds can be disabling and seriously hamper one's hopes of recovery

Ask yourself:
"Does this first myth dominate my life? Do people show a lot more understanding and become nicer to me when I share my problems or story? Am I aware that I sometimes actually use my history of wounds to influence someone? Could I commit myself to changing?"

Second myth: Without my wound, I'd be all alone.

If I recovered from this trauma, I would have to be more independent, more on my own, and less in need of help. In short, I'd be overwhelmed and lonely. Changing is scary--adopting a different personality, thinking about different things, finding a new group of friends. Maybe things are pretty good the way they are, at least I'm not isolated and helpless. Oh, besides, I'm sure my new group...meds...self-help book... is going to get me through this.

Do some reality checking by asking yourself:
"Are my emotional wounds the basis for most of my relationships? Could I be depending on other people's caring nature or even on their codependency? Why am I so afraid of changing? Could I find greater satisfaction and security by developing solutions to my problems and unhappiness?"

Third myth: My awful and painful life means that I am sick.

My constant awareness of my wound is never going to go away. I'm doomed to stay this way. This pain serves no purpose. It is just making things miserable for me.

Ask yourself:
"Am I really sick--and permanently sick? Where does this pessimism come from? Can I see how I unconsciously used my trauma to control people? to change a conversation? as an excuse? to indentify with others? to get sympathy? Was that "sick" or just trying to meet my needs as best I could? Have my wounds become an addiction? Am I afraid of becoming healthy? Could I now change and get to a better place, like others have done? Can my pain and unhappiness become a motivation to change and find a better life? Can I use some self-change methods?"

Fourth myth: All emotional problems are the result of traumatic experiences. To get better, the primary wound--what started it all--has to be uncovered, brought into full consciousness. Some awful, horribly damaging experience must be buried deep in my unconscious. If I don't know the cause for certain, I can't get better.

Ask yourself:
"Why must you know the one original wound? How do you know there was one? Isn't it likely that many other life experiences besides trauma, including your own thoughts and emotions, have contributed to your wounds? Even if you were terribly abused as a child, is that likely to be the only cause of some problem as an adult, such as low self-esteem? Didn't someone else model low self-esteem? Didn't you have skills and assets that have gone unrecognized? Weren't there other failures and disappointments throughout life that may have contributed to the low self-esteem? Can you now find and use some of your good traits and values, and, in this way, become more self-accepting?"

Ask also:
"Did some good come from your wounds and the healing process thus far? Have you gained any deeper understanding of yourself or of the person(s) or events that caused your wounds? Do these deeper understandings help you think of forgiving some of the wrongs and wrong-doers? Can you see how "putting it behind you" or forgiving someone could help you escape constant victimhood?"

Fifth myth: At this point in life I am held prisoner by my wounds. I can't change. My situation is hopeless. Why try if changing is impossible?

Ask yourself:
"Could it be that believing you can't change makes it easier for you to escape the pressure to change and the hard work of changing? If you realized that thousands of studies show that people can change, would you be more optimistic? Would it be helpful if you knew more about how people with problems and backgrounds like yours have changed? Can you find ways to be more understanding, more loving, and more positive about the future, even if it involves scary changes?"

References: Myss, C. (1997). Why People Don't Heal and How They Can. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.