How Our Wounds Help Others

Group Horse Therapy lends many opportunities for passing lessons learned to a friend.

Group Horse Therapy lends many opportunities for passing lessons learned to a friend.

“Wounding and healing are not opposites. They’re part of the same thing. It is our wounds that enable us to be compassionate with the wounds of others. It is our limitations that make us kind to the limitations of other people. It is our loneliness that helps us to find other people or to even know they’re alone with an illness. I think I have served people perfectly with parts of myself I used to be ashamed of. ” Rachel Naomi Remen

I asked my boss to forward this quote to me after she read it aloud at a recent meeting. WOW! If I didn’t believe in this idea wholeheartedly (as the poster child of incredibly wild mistakes) I would likely be in someone’s closet by now curled up in the fetal position. Not a day goes by when I don’t pull out a perfect example of “Don’t do what I did, kids, it was REALLY stupid!” Sharing an experience then shaking our heads when they do it their way anyway is what we get to do as wise grown-ups. But there are the occasional days when the boys listen to my experiences and sidestep trouble, which makes the wound of having made it in the first place worthwhile.

Realizing that something we’ve overcome provides us a unique ability to help others is indeed part of our own healing process. Our gaffes are what make us human and sharing them with others helps increase the survivability and recoverability of each one.  If you can’t eventually laugh about the lesson you learned, perhaps you just need to repeat the story one more time. Trust me, they get funnier as time passes.

Using one’s past to rise above a situation repeats itself throughout history. Some notable examples include Moses, who was accused of murdering a man before leading his people out of Egypt. Bill Wilson, a noted alcoholic in the early 1900s, went on to found Alcoholics Anonymous. And we’re all familiar with Alexander Fleming’s big scientific oops that became penicillin. There’s an example of healing in its most literal form. To say these three men made a significant contribution to others despite mistakes in their past is a drastic understatement.

It’s easy, as adults, to think of someone who makes the same mistakes over and over and – like a train wreck – there’s little you can do to stop them. So at CCBS, we begin to teach the boys to reflect on their past behavior and learn something from it. Then as their time with us increases, they can take their lessons and pass them along to those not so far along the PATH. They become empathetic to the limitations of others and those moments we observe among the boys are priceless and dear.

The lessons of the Medicine Wheel are evident when we share our life lessons with others. We show not only, “I am wise,” but also, “I am resilient,” and sometimes, “I am forgiven.” But most importantly, when we admit our mistakes and make it part of our healing process, we show “I am authentic.”

What part of your past can be used to show someone your authenticity? How can a wound in your life become a healing story for you and those around you?

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posted by Shaler Black Cooper in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (3)

3 Responses to “How Our Wounds Help Others”

  1. Learning how to let your pain and wounding help you have empathy for others is a big part of being an Educational Consultant, without having to make your history the center of attention! Thanks for this great blog Denise.

  2. Ruth says:

    This is lovely, Denise. An excellent reminder that I could recall with great benefit more than I do.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    So very true….

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