Everyone will experience a healing crisis at some point in their life, whether it is in the form of an illness, injury, loss of a loved one or a sudden and unexpected change of lifestyle. A healing crisis is a crisis of identity and one of the greatest opportunities for growth one can experience. The term healing crisis can also be defined as a healing opportunity, the opportunity to create a new state of balance and integrity. Healing is the act of restoring balance or of making whole, and crisis is an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a persons life. Depending on how you wish to interpret the event it could mean either; a serious threat to your life/identity or as a radical opportunity for change and growth. I have lived through many a healing crisis, none of them were easy or comfortable, all of them deeply rewarding. I don’t know how or why I came to view the process as a gift, i just remember the first time i realized it. My grandfather was dying, he was in a coma in a hospital bed surrounded by his family, my father, my aunt and uncle and a few of my cousins. As I sat at the foot of the bed feeling a mixture of grief and confusion I noticed something unusual, something beautiful was happening. Amidst the sadness and the sorrow of my grieving family I saw a connection forming between them, I saw the gift of healing taking place right before my eyes. It was like a great weight was lifting and falling away as the space between each person dissolved. I perceived that shrinking space as a substance of time and memory and pain and of identities formed out of illusion and misunderstanding. I felt like a bright light had been turned on, a light that illuminated all the dark, hidden spaces within each persons heart, and I saw the gift of change taking place. My family was healing, my grandfathers stillness moved us closer together and allowed us the opportunity to grow deeper within ourselves and become stronger as a family. This is the paradox of the healing crisis, how the most painful and unwanted experiences can offer the greatest opportunity for growth and change. Its often difficult to see the potential gift in the midst of a crisis, sometimes we miss the opportunity for healing and instead become the victim of our own ignorance. Instead of using a crisis for accelerated growth we freeze and stagnate, we get stuck in a cycle of re-describing our pain and confusion and our wounds do not heal. I have seen this pattern many times with my clients and students. The post-surgical patient who’s body refuses to heal, the cancer patient who withdraws into isolation and depression. I have also seen many of these people turn their healing crisis into healing opportunities by choosing growth over decay. There is always an opportunity for growth even in the most dire of circumstances. If you choose to embrace the experience and look for the gift, (the opportunity to activate and exercise your authority), you can turn any crisis into a healing opportunity. Understand this, if you choose to embrace the gift of crisis you will change, your image and understanding of self (identity) will change and will never be the same again. True healing requires true and permanent change. The fear of change and the fear of moving into unknown territory within oneself is the main reason people do not heal or heal very slowly. Most people expect to “return to normal” after an illness or an injury and set their sights on re-describing the past, their familiar sense of self, and here is where the crisis of identity blossoms. There is no returning to normal, you cannot return to the past, the best you can do is embrace the present and celebrate your “new sense of self”. All healing and growth takes place in the present, so stop trying to be who you used to be and embrace who you are becoming now.
It takes courage to turn a healing crisis into a healing opportunity. Courage and the willingness to embrace life, all of life, the known and the unknown, the comfortable and the painful. Acceptance is a powerful tool and a resource I use all the time, acceptance helps me to ground and center myself in the present and gives me the strength to endure the unknown. I have learned how to embrace and celebrate my crisis, how to use crisis as a tool for transformation and spiritual growth. The alternative is to resist/deny the truth of the moment which only makes it worse. Resistance increases pressure, wastes energy and effort and slows down the healing process. Acceptance allows energy to move and flow and change, that is the nature of life and of healing, a continuous flow of movement and change toward fulfillment and growth.