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The Risk of Healing

When I first started my job as a counselor I was incredibly optimistic. I thought I could help every person who walked into my office. I thought every client would be ready for great change and fabulous healing. I couldn't wait to see the systemic changes that would occur in the world around me as I supported them.

Seventeen years into this career, I'm aware there is more to it than being competent and enthusiastic at my job. Even the most eager client brings with them a wider context, sometimes a context that is not actually ready for transformation.

I still show up with my whole heart, but I am slower to forcast big healing. I keep better pace with clients now, allowing them to lead and adjust the direction as we go. Sometimes the only healing I get to see is a client realizing they're not quite ready to make any changes. In those cases, being alongside them in that realization is the best I can do.

Every client gets to a place where they recognize that making a change is going to cost them more than their copay. Healing from old, destructive patterns often means losing the comfortability of normal. Sometimes that means confronting your life in a really discombobulating way. Sometimes it includes letting go of people we've loved dearly.

Healing means waking up and becoming more sensitive to destructive relationships and situations. It's not that those people are bad, but sometimes they just aren't walking the same direction we'd like to walk. Sometimes their influence has kept us stuck, or enabled our own bad behavior. Adjusting those relationships is part of setting ourselves up for success. It helps the healing stick.

But it's incredibly painful to walk away from familiar relationships, even when you know it's for the best! Sadness, disappointment and fear abound, even in the midst of a healthy shift. It can make you second guess your progress. Just keep in mind that joy and pain can co-exists. One does not cancel out the other. Healing is expensive, but the reward is in the thriving life, the increased peace, and the birth of joy, despite the pain.

Unsplash Jamie Serrano

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