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Stepping Out of the Shadows/[Re]Connecting With
Your Life's Journey

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Healing Your Wounds

By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

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Judge Not and Ye Shall Not Be Judged

There are many who are living Far below their possibilities
because they are continually handing over their individualities to others. Do you want to be a power in the world?
Then be yourself. Be true to the highest within your soul
and then allow yourself to be governed by no customs or conventionalities or arbitrary man-made rules that are founded on principle.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Accepting that we’re imperfect beings rather than judging ourselves to be damaged goods is a necessary balm for creating a shift in the relationship we have with ourselves.

The night had been full of awe and wonder. I finally had visited Jodi’s new home. I swear she had performed an absolute miracle. Forget that she had done most of the work herself. Forget that she had turned a shambles of a house into a majestic home.

No, the miracle was not that Jodi had pulled it off, because Jodi can do anything. The miracle in my mind was that she did it because of her unshakable belief in her vision, her unwillingness to forsake what was possible. She simply refused to be blinded by discouragement and hard times. She had pulled it off without the support of her family and friends. Indeed, they were some of the greatest obstacles she had to overcome.

You see, Jodi had found a house that was a handyman’s dream. It wasn’t in the greatest of neighborhoods, so anyone who cared about Jodi was dead set against her buying and rehabbing the house.

When she saw the house, all she could see was the potential it possessed. When her friends saw it, all they could see was how rundown it was. Friends would stare in horror at the condition of the house. Floors rotting away. Ceilings with holes in them the size of basketballs. Walls barely half-standing.

But all Jodi saw was what the house could become.

The potential that existed in every nook and cranny. Jodi, ever the cock-eyed optimist, didn’t see anything as being damaged, nope everything in her mind, everything about the house was charm and character. Never mind the warped floor boards. Jodi never saw the destruction and decay, to her it was only the inevitable cycle of life evidenced throughout the entire 3000 square feet. Ruined. Hopeless. Daunting. Damaged. Irreparable. All ways her friends depicted the house.

But Jodi--Jodi never thought of the house in those terms. Never for a moment would she allow her spirit to be paralyzed, even infected by her friends’ judgments. Potential. Possibilities. Style. Elegance. Warmth. Integrity. Those were her words. That was her vision.

Hard work. Don’t talk to Jodi about hard work. With Jodi, hard work is always a given. Not because she has some twisted work ethic. She just understands that she always has to work to get to where she wants to be.

Well, the tour of the house was breathtaking. Although looking at the album of before and after pictures was mindnumbing, nothing could recapture the smell of ruin that permeated that house only a short eight months ago. As we sat and talked, reliving the horror stories of the project, sharing the joy of Jody’s vision coming to life, I was stumped. How could we have all been so wrong? All we could see was the destruction, yet she was able to see beyond what the house was in order to believe in what the house could be?

So I asked Jodi. I asked her what her secret was. How could she have ever known that what she started with eight months ago would have turned into such a palace?

She  pondered the question for a moment, cocked her head to one side and said, “I don’t know. I guess I accepted the house for what it was. Never, ever did I dwell on what the house was not. Most important of all, I chose to only see the house for what it could become.”  

You know what, that’s not such a bad formula to follow for how we live our lives, for how we relate to ourselves and the rest of the world.

How best to apply Jodi’s principles for rehabbing a house to healing the relationship we have with ourselves? We all need to accept that we’re not broken, rather, we’re imperfect beings who are growing and evolving.

To view ourselves as broken and in need of repair is the deepest, harshest wound we can inflict upon ourselves. Such a belief maintains our isolation from ourselves and the people in our lives. This wound keeps us hidden in the shadows because we limit the ways we feel safe in expressing who we are.

It’s easy to see how this wound sends us into hiding, keeping us in the shadows. We hide from ourselves. We hide from the people in our life. We hide from our spiritual power.

Do you recognize what we are hiding from? Hiding from being found out. Hiding from being judged by others the way we judge ourselves. Hiding from our fear.

Our fear of not being liked and accepted, being rejected for all of the things we’ve already rejected about ourselves. So we tuck away those pieces of ourselves, you know the old adage, out of sight out of mind. Those pieces never to be claimed by ourselves, only to be disowned and unacknowledged.

And so the trauma perpetuates itself as we attempt to dress our wounds. Do you recognize the ways we dress our wounds?

We follow a path of self-condemnation rather than a path of celebration

We follow a path of judgment rather than a path of acceptance

We follow a path of repair rather than a path of discovery

We follow a path of achievement rather than a path of enlightenment

We follow a path of filling the emptiness created by our wounds rather than a path of filling our soul with love and forgiveness

No, it must be plain to us all by now, that we must forsake many of the ways we’ve gone about the business of healing.

Healing does not come from filling the void with the trappings of our culture

Healing does not come from the temporary means we have to soothe ourselves

Healing does not come from smothering our pain in our compulsions

Healing does not come from the emotion-numbing experiences of drugs and alcohol

Healing does not come from the ways we lose ourselves in work, achievement, and self-destructive relationships

How does healing take place? Hopefully there’s a glimmer stirring, an understanding about how to go about creating healing within ourselves.


Healing arises out of the shift we experience in the relationship we have with ourselves

Healing arises out of our willingness to absolve ourselves from the judgments we hold against ourselves

Healing arises out of our willingness to let go of the impossible standards we hold ourselves to

Healing arises out of our willingness to let ourselves become what we were meant to be

Healing arises out of creating a wholeness within

Does any of this have a ring of truth for you? Have you taken pause to think about whether you think of yourself as damaged goods? Are you able to see that we all are evolving creatures that are growing towards our highest possibilities?

I have a simple exercise that I suggest people do. Its aim is also simple: forgiveness. More specifically, forgiving ourselves.

The mechanism for forgiveness? Release ourselves from the harshness that lives in the relationship we have with ourselves. Release ourselves from the contempt we feel towards ourselves for what we’re not. Release ourselves from the voices within that ridicule us, demean us, that ride us unmercifully.

The exercise below may feel awkward at first but don’t give up on it. For this exercise can be the starting point for something very important. We need to learn how to talk to ourselves in a kind, soothing, healing way. To heal our relationship with ourselves, we need to develop a different way of treating ourselves. That’s the practical side of this exercise.

But the healing aspect of this exercise is what I want each and every one of you to experience. Take your time with this one. If you skip over it now, promise yourself that you’ll come back later.

What I want each and every one of you to do is to write a letter of forgiveness to yourself. Let me break this down for you.

Start off by making a list of what you feel you need to forgive yourself for. Not being smart enough? Not being attractive enough? Not being kind enough?   Whatever the judgments you hold against yourself, that you beat yourself up for, those are the things that you need to release yourself from.

Now look at the list. Remember Jodi’s formula? I guess I accepted the house for what it was. Never, ever dwelled on what the house was not. More importantly, I chose to only see the house for what it could become.

Take your list. Apply Jodi’s formula. Write yourself a letter of forgiveness whereby you can change your judgments into a vision of what’s possible for you to become.

Let me emphasize one last time. Hopefully you’re beginning to discover the empowerment of transforming how you think about things. Healing your own self-inflicted wounds is another step towards empowering your life. We no longer need to injure ourselves by the way we hold our imperfections in our head. Just remember the next time you begin to go off on yourself, exercise a little kindness as well. It’s just as easy to forgive as it is to belittle yourself.



Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.


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