Healing the Healer - Wounded Healer and other Archetypes
Updated: Sep 9
Much of our effectiveness as bodywork therapists and energy healers will be the result of our own state of health, energy levels, degree of wholeness and well-being, happiness, centered-ness, calmness, emotional and shadow integration and the congruence of our heart and mind. We cannot separate our work from our own spiritual and personal health, development and growth. In essence, you will be imparting and sharing your own awareness, state of mind and knowing. You teach and share what you know and what you are, or believe yourself to be. You also teach what you most need to learn! Never stop learning. Never assume that you know everything. Become a good learner! Learn from every person and situation.
Burnout is a common experience in the helping professions. Not only in body workers, but also in social workers, doctors, psychologists, etc. There is a fundamental shadow aspect in the helping professions; people who want to help others are often in need of help themselves, and are often masking their own need, or believe that in helping others, they themselves will be helped in return. They very often are unable to ask for help themselves.
Masking your own need, and never seeing yourself as a patient or in need of help is an aspect of pride and ego. It is vitally important to keep in touch with your own needs, making sure that you get rest when needed, take time off from your work, and take time for yourself, both recreationally, following your own passions and interests, and for your own healing. Make sure you have oil in your lamp. Exchanging treatments with other therapists is one way of staying healthy. You can also enhance your own skills by learning from other therapists as you receive treatments from them.
Needing others to get better, being invested in an outcome, and getting a good feeling from others getting better is also a common trap for the helper. Many help others in order to get a feeling of power, or to feel better about themselves. The shadow aspect of the healer/helper will always need to be the helper, and will not feel useful or valuable unless they are helping other people. They will also often get involved in intimate relationships with people who need help.
This healer’s shadow can become personally tied up with the patient's process if during or after a treatment you remain overly concerned about the outcome of the treatment. If you are invested in seeing a result, you not only taint the therapy with your own desire, but can also let yourself be drained of energy. Your attention needs to be in the moment. You perform your task and give of yourself totally, then allow the healing to take place by stepping away from the client, recharging yourself, and letting the therapeutic benefits of treatment take place if and when it is appropriate. An illness might have it’s own timing, and a client might have their own process or contract to complete. The illness is there to bring a gift to the patient, patience, or vulnerability, or rest or a new direction in life. Your role is to lend energy and if possible indicate where they might be misdirecting or loosing their power. A common and ancient prayer to use when you perform your work is: "If the universe wills it, so be it." Being present without judgement or attachment, and without being overly concerned and invested in an outcome, will allow the client or patient the space they need to heal themselves.
"We're just the cleaning crew", says Rosalyn Bruyére.
The Wounded Healer
As mentioned, helpers often need help themselves and are drawn to this profession due to their own need for healing, or the awareness of the need for healing for humanity through their own sensitivity, suffering or wounded-ness. On a soul level, a person might decide to incarnate for a specific purpose, such as to heal a specific malady of the human psyche, and will then take on the circumstances and allow experiences that will give them that specific wound. Many people are not able to conceive of complicity from the soul in allowing abuse and violence to happen to a young child. Yet, to have the feeling of being in control of your own life beaten out of you can create the opportunity for the soul to eventually overcome not only their own victim patterning, possible from past lives, but also, in healing themselves and sometimes the situation and the other people involved, by speaking up and confronting injustice, and also through acceptance and forgiveness, heal and uplift a whole community. When you overcome an obstacle, and learn to love yourself, no matter what, you make it easier for other people to overcome the same obstacles. I know of women who incarnated in very abusive conditions who have become great teachers and healers and are facilitating the re-emergence of the divine feminine in our society. Louise Hay is a great example.
In the traditional African healing world, one is called to the path of the Sangoma by your ancestors. Often this calling happens in the form of an illness that cannot be cured by any method. The diviners might then receive information from the spirit world that this illness is a calling from your ancestors to receive training as a healer, and the illness disappears once that training commences.
The archetype of the Bodhisattva, the ultimate archetype of the healer in Buddhism.
An old Buddhist Text by Shantideva Buddhisattva:
The Key of becoming a Bodhisattva:
One who wishes to protect oneself and others quickly,
should practice exchanging oneself for others,
which is a great mystery.
All those who are unhappy in the world are so
as a result of their desire for their own happiness.
All those who are happy in the world are so
as a result of their desire for the happiness of others.
Note the difference between the fool who seeks his own benefit,
and the sage who works for the benefit of others.
One who does not exchange his own happiness for the suffering of others,
surely does not achieve Buddhahood.
How could one find happiness even in the cycle of existence?
in order to alleviate my own suffering and to alleviate the suffering of others,
I give myself up to others, and I accept others as my own self.
This high form of altruism needs to be seen in relative terms. As we journey towards this lofty goal, we need to be aware of our own needs and emotions, of our own healing. Make sure you have oil in your lamp. Heal Thyself! Know Thyself! The path of the heart, the spiritual journey, is only possible with self love.
Being a bodhisattva is the final step.
Baby steps or giant leap, the spiritual journey is a walk on the razor’s edge.
Know and Love Thyself,
And know that self as the self of all beings, the soul of life.
I am another you.