Embracing Healing Change: Keys to a Happy Life

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." -Harriet Tubman

You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that. We think so often that we are helpless, but we're not. We always have the power of our minds... Claim and consciously use your power. -Louise Hay

How many cliches or adages can we come up with about change? Ready? Go!

  • You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

  • Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves.

  • Change is inevitable -- except from a vending machine.

  • Who moved my cheese? (Hint: It's a book about change)

  • Progress is impossible without change.

  • Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

For eons, people have loved talking and writing about change. It's got to be one of the most searched keywords and it's a hot topic in management circles and self-help groups.

Healing Means Change

It's time to reframe the concept and bust down some of these cliches.

Let's examine how necessary change is for us if we want to heal. Heal from what? Heal from whatever traumas you have incurred -- and we have all encountered trauma in our lifetimes. And you're not only healing from the trauma itself, but from however you reacted to and stored that trauma.

According to Dr. Gabor Mate, a brilliant and talented physician and author, trauma is "any experience that's too much for us to process, digest, and integrate." Trauma is something that overwhelms us and forces some sort of system reboot that helps "protect" us from that trauma and the feelings from that trauma.

Trauma is an emotional and physical response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event. It can be caused by physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, as well as by witnessing violence or experiencing a natural disaster, and many other experiences. Trauma can also be passed down from parent to child. Trauma can have a profound impact on a person's mental and physical health.

Trauma can lead to long-term problems. We tend to hold onto that trauma and those accompanying feelings, perhaps pushing them down as far as we can, only to see tempers fly or fear burn through us as something or someone triggers us. In some cases, we can be retraumatized from these triggers.

And some of us can get pretty comfortable with our trauma. It can become a nice crutch/excuse for any limitations we feel in life. We think, oh, I could have been more successful if not for that trauma.

For others, that trauma is a burning hole that fuels our need for success... and each failure along the way adds fuel to that trauma, pushing us harder. But... success at what cost?

Embracing Change Means Embracing Healing

Even when we are hurting, self-sabotaging, pushing people away... we still resist change. Why?

Resistance to change is often fear of the unknown. We may hate our current situation, but the alternative could be worse, right? The grass isn't always greener on the other side.

So... how do we do it? How do we go about changing, healing?

1. Just Do It. The first step is realizing that you need help; that things need to change in your life; that you need healing -- even if you don't know yet from what.

Of course, this step is vital, as it infuses awareness. But don't stop with knowing you need help, keep moving forward.

Unsure you need or deserve healing? Change your perspective and see things differently -- perhaps as a best friend might see and value you, or as a lover/partner. You deserve healing.

2. Be Prepared for Challenges. We can get pretty comfortable with our traumas and hurts, and in some cases it becomes part of our identify. Thus, as we start along a healing journey -- a change journey -- we will face multiple challenges, from ourselves and the people around us.

Be honest with yourself and identify those things (and people) that might hold you back from changing, from healing. Procrastination is a big one for many, but it might be negative self-talk (feeling unworthy), or even an addiction you are not quite ready to give up.

3. Find Your Change Modality. People find pathways to change, pathways to healing, through multiple modalities. Not all modalities work for all people, so you may need to try several before finding the one(s) that work best for you:

  • Talk-therapy

  • Psychedelic therapy

  • Journaling

  • Nature, forest bathing

  • Movement, somatics

  • Meditation, prayer

  • Breathing exercises

  • Reiki, yoga, massage

Please take strong note of what is NOT on this list of healing modalities -- prescription drugs. For all our mental health woes, all these antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills (anxiolytics) do is mask the pain and the triggers. There's no true, long-term healing. Worse, who wants to make a lifelong commitment to taking drugs that were developed ONLY for short-term use?

If you have read any of my other work, then you know I strongly suggest looking into the intentional use of psychedelic medicine to assist in getting to the root cause of your trauma. For example, many people block out abuse as a child so that the adult has no recollection of it even as the trauma keeps negatively affecting the person's life; the psychedelic medicine will safely reintroduce the trauma to the person, so that it can be acknowledged and healed.

The other powerful and exciting aspect of psychedelics that we are seeing from the research is that these medicines support an increase in neuroplasticity in the brain -- making it easier to form new thoughts/habits and release deeply held negative beliefs.

4. Integrate, integrate, integrate. We are creatures of habit and if we are not careful, we will return to old and destructive bad habits. By integrating the change we want EVERY day, by working to create the life that we are meant to live, we have to actively process these changes, this healing.

Integrating can take the form of community sharing (of your story), journaling, drawing, painting, singing, dancing, mindfulness, etc. Key note here: In order to truly succeed in changing, in healing, you must find your community of like-minded people... your tribe.

5. Be Gentle on Yourself. All change, all healing journeys, have bumps along the path. There will be setbacks. There may be heartache, especially as some people leave your life as the result of your changing and healing. There may be some sort of career change and/or shift in your definition of success. But there will always be love and acceptance and joy on the other end of these changes. Hold grace for yourself.

Final Thoughts on Change and Healing

Why do we find it so hard to change our ways? Why do we resist change? Why do we shy away from our past traumas and hurts? Why does it often take so long to find the true healing we need?

You're here. You're reading this article. You have already started your healing journey -- and don't know it yet. Realizing you need to make a change -- or make wholesale changes -- that is the first step to healing.

Life will never be perfect. There are always shadows and darkness lurking, waiting for us to stumble, but when we receive the healing we deserve that darkness will never again be overwhelming and enveloping; we will have all the tools we need to move through it to having joy again.

And in the words of the great Maya Angelou: "As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal somebody else."

Embracing Change Resources

Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought-leader... helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com.

He is the author of the groundbreaking Triumph Over Trauma: Psychedelic Medicines are Helping People Heal Their Trauma, Change Their Lives, and Grow Their Spirituality and the well-received HEAL! Wholeistic Practices to Help Clear Your Trauma, Heal Yourself, and Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Hansen's focus and advocacy center around true healing ... healing that results in being able to live an authentic life filled with peace, joy, love. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.