THE SECOND FACE OF STRUGGLE: THE SEVEN STAGES OF HEALING
There is a lot of finger pointing in the Second Stage of Healing, Anger, because there is a subconscious belief that someone, or something else, is the root of your pain. It is helpful to be mindful here that Anger is a coping mechanism often used as protection against the pain of not being loved by another. Often the object of unrequited love is your mother or father, as we will see in Chapters 10 and 13. As a child, if you experienced unrequited love with your parents, the subsequent pain experienced likely cut deep into your being. Yet God, your ultimate parent, can and does fill in wherever your earthly parents cannot. – Excerpt from chapter 6 in Understanding The Jesus Code
Have you ever considered why individuals exhibit such different responses to the same or similar situation? Why does one individual responds with anger while another responds with shame or anxiety? In addition to the impact our unique subconscious files have on our behavior, we also experience life through a series of seven different emotional stages. In Kübler-Ross’s model, the five stages of grief, we witness a series of these emotions. These stages include Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Upon examination of these stages, we can see that individuals cycle through them throughout their life in an attempt to cope with the challenges life offers. In addition to the five stages offered by Kübler-Ross, two more stages can be found: “Love Entering In” and “Love Consuming.” Let’s briefly examine them here.
Most often Denial is a coping mechanism employed when an individual cannot process and move beyond trauma. Children, who are often powerless to control their environment, often use denial in an attempt to become free of pain. Unfortunately, once this pattern is established a person utilizes denial and falsely believes that everything is o.k. when it indeed is not. In turn, it is hard to experience the fullness of life available because truth cannot be sought. Individuals experiencing denial need our love, patience and compassion so that they can safely face their fears and begin the healing process.
With Anger one is acutely aware there is a problem. However, the problem lies with another. Our pain is their fault. Instead of turning to God, we are tempted to direct our fury towards others, towards the one(s) who have harmed us. Justice must be done… however, when we are trapped here no amount of justice will heal the pain and the anger. The reality is that anger places control in the hands of another. One trapped in anger one could wait an entire lifetime for the “other” to change. Our health pays a high price when we are trapped in Anger.
While in Bargain we seek to make a deal. If only he, she, or they would change we can be happy. Or, we can make the bargain with ourselves. If I pray these prayers every day I will find peace, if I follow this diet perfectly then I will lose weight and be healthy, if I focus on my needs and get rid of all the “energy vampires” from my life I will be free, or if I have financial wealth I will finally be happy. However, these solutions, even the positive solutions like eating healthy and invoking daily prayer, will never offer long term respite because we are seeking something from the external to heal our internal pain.
At the stage of Depression we feel the pain rather acutely. We have likely been angry, perhaps denied the pain, and we have made many “deals” in our minds and hearts. However, we now realize that our bargain will never work. He, she, or they will never change. Remember, humankind can never be perfect – we are all fallen. Given this, we can never make a deal that would guarantee our happiness if we are expecting others to make a virtuous change. Or perhaps we realize that the diets and lifestyle changes failed to deliver so pass the cake please. And all that money…it either failed to deliver real happiness or we realized that we will never accumulate the wealth we believe we need for happiness.
Acceptance opens to door to healing. In Acceptance we take an honest look at our life and we begin to surrender to the healing love has for us. No longer are we holding out for something, or someone, outside of us to change. The depression has lifted and we can see more clearly. We accept the world as it is, we accept humanity as it is – the “good” and the “bad”. There is a new sense of calm in our hearts and love can now enter in more fully.
Love Entering In
Here love begins to enter into our heart because we have made room. At last, our heart begins to receive the true healing tonic it yearns for. Since love cannot occupy the same place as denial, anger, or depression we have not allowed it in. Love can only co-exist with emotions such as joy and happiness. When love abounds within our hearts we then direct it towards our brothers and sisters. Through our trials our heart has expanded and we have learned how to love more. No longer do we have the innocence of childhood, yet, we hold the beautiful love a child holds. We have surrendered to love and it has changed our heart. We have no choice but to become the faithful and prudent servant serving others and in turn experiencing real happiness.
Here we are so consumed with love that we can withstand any trial. This stage begins with an all-consuming love for others and ends as we desire to carry the pain they cannot. We carry the pain of the victim as well as the pain of the perpetrator in our heart. Remember, only those separated from God can hurt another and become a perpetrator. We can be the “victim soul” for others, we can be the martyr revealing a joyful countenance at the point of death, and we can live as a great saint. We have gone through the dark night of the soul and experienced the painful separation from God that exists when we do not know him. We are equipped to carry the burden for others. Saint Theresa of Calcutta, Padre Pio, and countless other holy saints reached this stage. They became so consumed with love for others that they surrendered their total life so that others could live.
John 14:27 –
“I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
Prayer To Bring Balance: I Am Love
- You can practice this prayer anytime as it helps bring immediate peace. I have found it particularly helpful when practiced during intense emotional pain, trauma and anxiety. This prayer helps re-orientate one towards God – the healer of all our ills.
- Say three simple words repetitively, until you experience peace in your heart. There is no need to focus on your breath to receive respite from this prayer.
Let’s Break This Prayer Down
- I Am
- Whatever you say after these two words is vitally important for your well-being! How many times have we said “I am fat”, “I am ugly”, “I am so stupid”, “I am not good enough”.. and so the long list goes. And it doesn’t feel good when we say it! Why? Because such statements are not true, it is a lie and the cells in our body know it. When we speak truth our cells respond positively and from here they can function optimally and true health follows.
- I Am is also God’s name. When we speak it we are calling upon the creator of life itself – the One who is our divine physician.
- The vibration of love has the power to heal beyond our human understanding. When we speak “I Am Love” we are speaking truth to our cells because we are created in the image of God, who is Love eternal. With love comes life and truth – both are required for our physical, emotional and spiritual health.
- Love is also God. When we speak the word Love we are again calling upon the one who alone can heal us. “I AM Love” can also be read as “God God”
- While I recommend this prayer be used during acute trauma I also highly recommend it’s use as a form of meditation. To use it in this way I invite you to envision love entering into your heart where the pain exists. Picture love healing the pain while you surrender the pain at the foot of The Cross giving it to Jesus Christ. Then picture love living eternally in that space in your heart.