The healing power of presence
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When tragedies happen in the world we can often feel powerless, and helpless, but the truth is, we can be agents of healing to the people around us wherever we are.
Healing is often started in the context of relationship. When someone has experienced trauma or grief, their nervous system is often dysregulated. We are wired from birth to seek regulation from relationship.
An infant in distress will look to a caregiver to understand and respond to his emotions.
When we can look into the eyes of another and feel “felt”, understood, or validated, something calms in us. When that person is calm and yet responsive, they can, in a sense contain our distress. The caregiver, by being available and responsive, provides a sense of safety, when the world seems unsafe. If we experience this consistently as we grow, we learn to regulate ourselves.
The ability to self regulate is one of the tools that promotes healing, and those who have unhealed trauma or were not responded to in a consistant and responsive way in childhood may often have a hard time offering this to others until they can experience their own healing and learn to regulate their own distress.
So if this is you, or if you are currently struggling with debilitating anxiety, fear, overwhelming grief or anger. If you find it difficult to regulate your own nervous system in the face of worldwide, national or even local or personal tragedies or traumas, please seek your own healing first. Find a good therapist trained in trauma healing. Get connected to healthy supportive individuals that can listen and validate your emotions and help you feel connected and cared for.
For those who do not struggle with unhealed trauma or debilitating mental health issues, the pain around you can still feel gut wretching and overwhelming. But you too can get and receive healing by sharing your own and listening to others experiences. We can comfort each other with the comfort that has been given to us.
Giving each other the sense of being heard, and being in a safe relationship and receiving that comfort ourselves can start us on the healing process, even if circumstances around us don’t change. Connecting to a supportive other is one of the most important protective factors in preventing the negative effects of stress. Like sunscreen that gives us a layer of protection from being burned by the sun, healthy, healing relationships can give us some protection when we go out into a world that can be at times unpredictable and feel unsafe.
Being availalbe and responsive doesn’t require any specific training, it is often a matter, of being interested, listening well, sending verbal and nonverbal messages that you care and are present, seek to understand, and offer compassion, as well as offering practical help to one who is hurting. It is in such acts as kindness, prayer, availability that healing can begin.
We may not be able to heal the pain of hunderds of thousands of people we hear about suffering around the world. But we can in our own community, spread a kind of healing compassion that has ripple effects that may extend far beyond what we can imagine.
Final thoughts, as the above verse indicates, be deeply rooted and draw from the source of all comfort, and from that well of never ending comfort, offer it to others.
For those who are in severe crisis and struggling to cope please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1- 800-273-8255 (in USA) or go to your local hospital emergecy room.
This has been a post for the FMF community, a community that writes for 5 minutes on a prompt. Find out more here. Today's prompt was Heal. Last week was Know. Let's see if by chance next week is Grow!