Healing, self-help and personal development have become phrases that are used quite liberally these days and I believe this indicates something really positive: people becoming more aware of the role that they play in shaping their own life; expanding their consciousness and exploring the depths of what it is to be alive.
However (there’s always a but!!) I think the liberal use of these terms can lead to some common misconceptions about what they mean and what they aim to do. One of the most popular of these, in my experience, is the belief that the field is solely focused on living a life without adversity, pain or conflict. That the aim of healing and development is to deny any negative experiences and to live ‘happily ever after’.
Now please don’t misunderstand me – there’s nothing wrong with happily ever after! I do believe that the peaceful periods in life should indeed be celebrated. But I also think it’s worth noting that the sole aim of healing or personal development isn’t to completely deny or avoid any unpleasantness. Let’s be honest; life has its ups and downs, and without the lows would we really appreciate the highs?
But in the low times, those times of struggle, pain, grief and uncertainty, the tools offered by many healing and personal development fields can offer a framework with which you can approach difficulties, so that you have the capacity to face them with a sense of strength, if you so choose.
These tools can offer a way to understand our response to difficult situations. They show us how we can live without allowing old patterns and past experiences, fears and regrets from shaping how we respond to current times of strife.
As taught in the Buddhist tradition, it is often when we try to cling on to pleasant feelings and to run away from unpleasant feelings that we cause our own suffering; but if we can observe these experiences without allowing them to control us it is possible to find a place of equilibrium, from where we can continue to move forward, even in times of difficulty.