Can You Ever Truly Heal?

healing sunset maui

There is oh so much suffering in this world, either born out of a random tragedy – no shortage of that madness in our world – or from the quiet desperation of a bad childhood, neglected upbringing or other seeds of misery that befall us.

The question I want to explore is if you can ever truly heal from tragedies?

Is it possible to more than just accept them and move on with your life, is it possible to heal from them completely as you would from a scar that goes away leaving no mark behind?

Or do you have to live with them as you would with your shadow, carry their weight on your shoulders and be forever a victim with well-deserved suffering enough to last you more than one lifetime?

The scale of a tragedy certainly has a lot to do with the healing process, but if it were the same exact circumstance, does the healing happen the same way in all of us? I have never known the same tragedy affect any two people the same way. Some people heal faster and easier while others go on suffering and living with those ‘scars’ indefinitely.

During one of my recent coaching sessions, I told my client that I cannot imagine the hardship he has had to endure. If he believes the damage may be permanent, who am I to argue? I have no idea what he has been through and I am certainly not fit by degree or experience to comment so he may very well be right.

But I am qualified to ask questions and so I asked what if he is wrong? What if there is a slight possibility that he can indeed undo the impact of damage from his past to his present and future life? What if he can more than accept – and in fact undo – the conditioning of his upbringing?

There is no shortage of amazing human beings who emerge strong and untainted from tragedies that seem unthinkable to the rest of us. They are the same race and the same breed as the rest of us. How do they do it? Is it perhaps a deep willingness to tap into an immeasurable capacity for healing and recovering inside them? Is it the strength of faith and a set of beliefs that helps them create a life free of this suffering, after they have had just about enough of the pain and the tears and the darkness?

Is it a repeatable process for the rest of us who feel like mere mortals in the presence of these super humans?

Maybe it is a choice to continue to suffer or to choose to heal. Or rather, a specific choice not be stuck somewhere in the middle. Because to be in that middle place must be the hardest thing of all. You are torn between healing and suffering, between dark painful days and hopeful bright days, and you swing back and fro like an heavy pendulum, moving from one state to another, and feeling peace in small bursts in between all your agony.

Maybe it is about your deep-rooted beliefs. What do you believe to be true? That you are meant to suffer endlessly or that you deserve to heal and move on?

What you believe creates your reality, and believing the worst of everything is ironically the easiest thing to do in this crazy world where madness is the most sense we can make of some tragedies. Why work hard to believe anything else? We can justify the suffering, but not the healing so we choose to suffer. It can be easier to suffer in a world that creates so much of this suffering.

Misery loves company and how can healing have a place in a world where evil runs wild to murder children in their own classroom in a perfectly ‘safe’ town or to kill movie-goers in the comfort of a cinema?

But is it really in your control, to suffer or not to suffer? For some of us, it’s easier to stay with the suffering than the path of healing. Some of us want to live our lives looking back at what could have been and what we lost or what did not come to be. Others get over what happened and move on, focusing on what lies ahead, the possibilities of a life yet to be lived.

Whatever happened happened and it’s over and done with, be it a traumatic childhood or a shattered home or a long relationship that came to a sudden end. They simply move on without it dragging them for the rest of their lives. How do they do this?

In my search online, I found a few sources that speak in more depth on this topic and may offer more answers:

How to Heal the World: A Give and Take Guide by Christine Kane

Shattered: How to Pick Up the Pieces and Move On by Peter Clemens

Healing Depression by Taking Care of Mind, Body, Spirit by Tiny Buddha

How to Start Your Life All Over Again Especially After Loss or Death by Tia Sparkles

Heal the World by Clayton Lord

I do not know whether we can truly heal or not, I only know of the true stories of many human beings who have done it. They are the proof so it can be done. Plain and simple. These amazing, stunning, ridiculously awe-inspiring stories of people who overcome a terrible life, and make a great one out of it. What is it about them that the rest of us may be lacking? And if they can do it – heal so completely and become whole again – could it mean that there is a chance you and I are capable of healing from our own suffering in the same way?

“We cannot change the cards that we were dealt, only how we play the hand.”
Dr. Randy Pausch

Get Confident in 21 Easy Steps

  • Garry Stafford

    Farnoosh, it seems that it’s a mixture of belief and choice. I’ve a choice as to whether or not I move on in my life no matter how horrendous the damage. That doesn’t mean I get over it. Some things aren’t able to be “gotten over.” Grieved and ultimately accepted. But pain-free. No, I don’t think so. Pain accepted as a part of life. Yeah.

    But intertwined with that is the belief that I can survive and even flourish. Albert Ellis spoke to how we perceive events and in turn how we react to them. Also, I recall a study I read recently where due to the belief that one can survive and take initiative, the chance that one does increased significantly.

    Will I be a victor or a victim?

    • Farnoosh

      Hmmm. A mix of belief and choice – that’s a nice way to put it. My question is how to truly heal and if that’s possible and you are saying that it’s not something you can “get over” so it’s not quite pain-free yet. It’s a difficult stage to reach I imagine but I wonder if it’s possible or does it depend on numerous factors and vary from person to person? Nonetheless, you don’t sound like a victim to me, Garry. Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts on this.

      • Garry Stafford

        Thanks Farnoosh. If I may add one more thing. As I wrote this I’d just viewed a segment on the news that examined the elementary school massacre in Dunblane Scotland in 1996 in light of the Newtown shooting. A father from the prior event was interviewed. He described the overwhelming process of moving on from such pain. And that he believe that he had. He’s gotten on with life and had accepted it. But his tears contained pain that, in my opinion, will always be there. He even commented that he wasn’t a “good example of someone who had moved on” but he assured the interviewer that he had.

        When it comes to something as horrendously evil as these shootings I think someone can choose to move on in spite of such terrific pain. I’m not sure how. And I pray that I’ll not need to find out. But some certainly do.

        They ultimately find, I think, a purpose that arises from and transcends the pain.

        • Farnoosh

          Oh how very sad. I don’t know if parents can recover truly from loss of children – but I have no idea. That’s one of the many reasons I don’t have kids – I can’t imagine losing them to anything so I’m giving up on the joy too. Let’s pray we never find out the agony of those poor parents but pray for them to heal and to move on… Thanks Garry!

          • Nina

            I was just reading this post and one question–which to me has always been a seminal one–again raised its head in my mind: do we really have the right to bring a child into this world? Many people say that we bring them, and then its their own responsibility to build their own lives. But what if we bring a child, and the child wishes that s/he has never been born? Life, to many, is worth living. However, what if my child don’t find it that way? Is it not a gigantic responsibility to shoulder? And I really wonder how easily the majority of people–who themselevs are not having a good and easy life, financially, physically, spiritually!–give themselves the right to bring another one to this world?

            • Farnoosh

              Oh my! That’s a perfect question, Nina. I wrote my views – very limited edition – on children here and I don’t think those losers in this world who are a burden to society as it is should be allowed to bear children. AT ALL! It’s a big tough question and well, my answer isn’t so “compassionate” I suppose because I don’t think that everyone should be allowed to reproduce without consideration to the rest of the world and without being fully prepared to take care of that child until they are grown up and taking care of their own self.

              • Nina

                Perfect! I don’t know why, but whenever I air my views on this subject, the majority would simply accuse me of being a pessimist, crest-fallen–not to mention anti-human and -humanity!–creature!

                • Farnoosh

                  Because they live in a little bubble of a different world instead of the reality we have in front of us today. Smart solutions are not popular in this world and it takes a big dose of reality to face the truth. But I think you are brave to bring it up and I for one agree with your thoughts!

    • Chicky

      Totally agree with Garry here. Pain may always remain but we may choose not to suffer because of it.

      • Farnoosh

        Thanks Chicky. I hear you!

  • Michelle

    Good comments above and I echo the sentiment between the sometimes seemingly diametrical entities of personal choice and belief. Ultimately, I strongly feel that belief of that beyond ourselves, for all of creation including ourselves, is the answer.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Michelle, it takes a strong belief and I love the phrase “beyond ourselves” – but is it possible then to truly heal? Garry’s comment leads me to believe at least in his case that no, acceptance yes but true healing without pain no or not yet anyway. I wonder. Thanks for weighing in.

  • Carmelo

    Wow, Farnoosh. You certainly have tackled a tough subject! And you’ve done it well – addressing all the nuances and complexities involved. An answer? I can only say that answers, such as answers about the meaning of life, would always be filtered by the experiences and beliefs of the person answering.

    That being said, here’s my take! We’re all on our own journeys and we each have our own level of awareness and consciousness. We all experience exactly what we need in order to contribute to the evolution of consciousness. We’re all equal in the overall process and in our importance to that process but we’re not all equal in the physical realm and how we deal with the physical stuff.

    So, some of us “need” to hold on to pain. Perhaps some of us even need to experience more pain and suffering than others. It doesn’t make us better or worse, it simply reflects the path we’re on and our responsibility towards this evolution.

    Can we ever let go? Can we move on from pain and suffering? Yes, some can and do as you said. We certainly can leave it behind and completely “heal.” That begs the question then, can we CHOOSE to do this or are we on a preset journey that makes us predisposed to dealing with things in a certain way?

    My answer would be: it depends. We would have to make other choices first. Such as choosing enlightenment, self-awareness, and giving up attachment to the physical stuff like the body, mind stuff, and other physical manifestations we’ve chosen to identify with.

    I’d say that if we chose or begin choosing this route, yes, we certainly can choose to release past and any upcoming pain and suffering and move on freely!

    Just a great question, Farnoosh. You’re fun to hang out with. 😉

    • Farnoosh

      Philosophy major, Carmelo? :)

      Seriously that is not just thorough and well-said, I think you wrote it in such a way that I can follow and understand, despite the depth. Thank you for adding your thoughts, Carmelo, it does depend on so many factors and even the letting go, how hard it must be because holding on to pain must mean that we are still attached – that we care and maybe sometimes, it’s that “not caring” association with the letting go that makes it so hard to indeed let go. I would imagine that if that were me in the healing process, that might be my reason to hold on to pain. It means I care. You know? But to heal. that’s a bold brave thing to do. And yet, so necessary. Thanks Carmelo.

  • Sandra / Always Well Within

    This is an excellent question to explore, Farnoosh. I believe we are all capable of healing ultimately, but I also know that each person’s situation is individual and has its own set of complexities. Medical science now tells us that genetically some people are more prone to traumatic stress than others. They, perhaps, will have a bigger, more uphill battle than others. Healing can still happen but it begins with understanding ourselves, having the right information, and a circle of support can also make a huge difference. We are here to heal and become whole.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Sandra, thanks for stopping by. And sharing your wisdom. We are here to heal and become whole. >> beautiful and I want to believe it, I really do. So you too share my thoughts in that different people heal differently – they also deal with the same tragedy or problem differently. Maybe it comes down to what we believe or is it about how we are genetically wired? I wonder.

  • charme

    I don’t know how many times I’ve asked myself if healing and happiness are a matter of choice. I respect what has been said here about taking care not to judge that for another person–and maybe for myself, since trying to make it happen by power of force of will seems in someways to cut deeper. But I will agree with others here that it is possible that we should accept the pain that we must bear as a part of life–it is just not the only part. It is the Via Negativa of Creation Spirituality, one of the four ever repeating trajectories of our lives. The good news is we all walk this road and we can draw strength and give strength along the way.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Charme, deep response. And yes to not judging others until those others have done harm to society and to the world around them – then we judge them in a court of law and we are even far too lenient on those criminals than we should be but alas that’s a different story. Thank you for your beautiful message. We indeed need to give and take strength to each other as we all walk the same or similar path.

      • charme

        Farnoosh, I guess I wonder about judgments in the courts of law. Does the death penalty deter crime or end hatred? Is life imprisonment a worse punishment? Obviously violence must be stopped, but how? How hard it is to be human to have to bear not only violence, but the burden of what to do about those who commit it.

        Thanks for the conversation and for your writing.

        • Farnoosh

          If a man (or a woman) intentionally hurts an innocent defenseless child, they should be hung, they should be killed and never allowed back into society because that is a crime that is above all others. We shouldn’t pay a penny to keep those thugs alive but hey, nobody is interested in preventing the crime as much as talking about it or else we could just enforce tougher punishment and it would solve a LOT of our problems. Living in an American prison free of charge isn’t such a bad deal after all. Then we wonder why they keep committing heinous crimes. Some people are sick and incurable and evil. They should be stopped with death. Those are my unpopular and uncensored thoughts :)!

  • Nina

    Hi Farnoosh,
    I was surfing the net and somehow (!) bumped into your site. The very first thing that caught my attention was your name. I’m so glad to see an aspiring and amiable girl–and a Persian one!–here.
    Keep the ball rolling Farnoosh!

    • Farnoosh

      Thanks Nina. Are you Persian too? Nina is both a European and a Persian name. And I love that you stopped by! Come back anytime.

      • Nina

        Yup: I’m Persian. The only reason that I didn’t write in Persian is that it would not be appropriate to communicate in a tongue which others have no idea of!
        Kheyli khoshhal shodam az ashna ee toon :)

        • Farnoosh

          Super :) Same here and very nice to meet you too, Nina! :) Lovely day to meet another Persian and what a great name too.

  • Aziza

    Hello Farnoosh. I love your name and you are so beautiful. I admire the subject matter of your blog and everyones comments are brilliant and uplifting. You’ve created a very unique forum. Let me tell you about myself. My name is Aziza and I have 5 children. 4 of my children are results of incest at the hands of my father. From the age of 8 he started to molest me and kept me out of the system as his concubine. I was emancipated from him at 23 years old but in 2010 my 4th child fathered by him died. I believe that my faith in God and my ability to forgive is key to me being a victor and not a victim (as Garry so eloquently put it). I’m not a religious person but I am very spiritual. I try to learn from my life’s challenges and mistakes and I hope that sharing my process of healing can help other’s in their healing process. As a child being abused by someone who was suppose to protect me I forgave my father as a child forgives a parent after punishing them. I don’t look at my children as reminders of my suffering, I love them dearly and wouldn’t trade them for anything. Experiencing the kind of oppression and torture that my dad subjugated me to only makes me appreciate my freedom and privileges more. I could go on and on about this and my healing process but if I did you’d have a book written on you blog lol! I am writing my memoirs on my life in hopes that it will help other women cope and heal. People tell me all the time how I’m free spirited, happy, encouraging and inspiring; and that’s before they even know my history. I don’t use what happened to me as an excuse for anything, yet I remember every detail of what my father did to me. All that matters is that I live the rest of my life to the fullest. I was home schooled but now I’m in college. I have my own business and I am a chef. I have no sexual hangups and I love men. I refuse to allow my father any more power over me by dwelling on what he did to me. I am so grateful for my life now and I strive to make it better for me and my children. Thank you for having a forum for me to share.

    • Aziza

      Oh, and to answer your question; yes you can truly heal. The trick is to embrace the damage as a part of you and your personal path in life. Like positive experiences that change us and help us grow, negative experiences do the same thing. I think the reason people who’ve sulfured a trauma continue to suffer after the trauma is over is because they’re reopening the wound. As victims we choose to relive the experience by wishing it didn’t happen. When I lost my daughter I spent weeks trying to figure out what I could’ve’ done to prevent it from happening. In doing that I played every aspect of her death over in my head. In my attempt to to find a solution I made myself experience losing her repeatedly. And because of that I was an emotional wreck. Finally I realized what I was doing and I compared it to my experience with my father. I excepted my experience with my dad and understood that I couldn’t change it. It is a part of me and my life. Then I applied that same philosophy to the loss of my daughter and I was able to better handle my situation. I miss her dearly but I can’t bring her back. When I think of her I still cry, but they are tears of joy and gratitude for God allowing me to be the mother of such a beautiful angel. I will always have that honor, even if I don’t physically have it anymore.
      They say hurt people, hurt people. I do believe it’s because they are re-experiencing their suffering through their actions toward others. If you except negative experiences as being a part of your path, then it’s easier to walk beyond them. It’s all how you look at it.

      • Farnoosh

        Dearest Aziza, I am so touched by your story. I read it out loud for my husband – something I do with the most incredibly powerful stories of human emotion and struggle and you most certainly qualify. You are amazing, you are the rare kind of person that has been gifted with a special heart full of compassion and kindness. I have to learn from you. Your story is heart-breaking and your attitude beyond refreshing. I am SO happy you are writing your story for others to help them better cope with their hardship. Thank you so much for sharing this, Aziza. I’ll think about you a lot as I face my own (tiny version) of struggles and also refer others here if they need an amazingly inspiring story of courage and survival. THANK YOU for coming by and come back anytime.

        • Farnoosh

          PS: I like how you put the answer to whether one can truly heal. Playing out the struggle and emotion in our mind is the form of self-sabotage and self-suffering that I think we do because we just don’t know how else to let go. Holding on to pain is one way to hold on to what we lost, and healing is a tough choice but a choice. Seriously powerful stuff, Aziza. I am beyond moved by your story. Thanks again!

          • Aziza

            Lovely Farnoosh, though not necessary I appreciate your acknowledgment. I do what my heart and spirit tell me but your words are kind and encouraging. Thank you a thousand times. I love your blog, keep up the good work!

        • Aziza

          Hello Farnoosh. A lot has happened since I read your blog last year. Here’s an update. I finished the manuscript for my book I was telling you about. My father went to trial and was sentenced a week ago. And I started a blog of my own. Please let me know what you think.

          • Farnoosh

            Happy for you Aziza…. good luck and keep writing.

  • Ken Wert@MeanttobeHappy

    This is so true, Farnoosh: “What you believe creates your reality, and believing the worst of everything is ironically the easiest thing to do in this crazy world where madness is the most sense we can make of some tragedies. ” If we believe a thing to be true, we will find all kinds of evidence that backs it up and neglect noticing evidence against it. Such a powerful notion. Changing what we believe about ourselves, life and others is the first and most profound step to changing how we experience the world.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Ken, we find evidence for everything, right? My husband says you can find statistics and charts that prove any old crazy theory you want. You are a big driver of change in your own life so I know you get this notion well. It’s wonderful to see you and it reminds me to hop over and check out your latest fabulous posts. Thanks for weighing in!

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