"There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they're falling in."
~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu
While I do agree with this statement, I also believe it goes even deeper than people falling in the river. There are many people that are doing this investigative work of going upstream to see what is going on, and it is very important. What they may find though is that yes, some people are falling in, yet I also believe that many are pushed in and that some are even jumping in on their own.
My goal and purpose in this human experience is to figure out why anyone is going into the river at all. I do this work through helping individuals uncover and heal trauma. Sometimes the trauma comes from a particular event or relationship, and sometimes (often) it goes much deeper and is tied to ancestral trauma. Before we can heal trauma in others, we must first heal it within ourselves. This is an ongoing process and the more we heal, the more we can help others. We keep evolving on our own journey, pulled forward by those who are further along in their own process, and reaching back to help those who need us to pull them forward.
I hear the following phrase a lot, and have even said it myself before: the system is broken. I no longer agree with this statement. Instead, I would say that the system is not broken. The system is working exactly as it was designed to. It was designed to keep us focused on our differences and to fear each other. More so, it was designed to make us fear ourselves. If we fear our own power and mistrust our own intuition, then we are willing to give our power over to someone else. We let them make our decisions for us, therefore keeping them in control of what we think we need in order to be safe. The biggest enemy to this system is human intuition.
Because these carefully cultivated belief systems are so integrated into our daily lives, it is sometimes difficult to identify them or to break free of them. Still, deep down you may have an intuitive knowledge that something feels off. We often become so entangled with our conditioning that even when we identify that a change needs to occur and attempt to make it happen, our actions end up creating even more elaborate ways of keeping us stuck in the same old patterns and belief systems rather than freeing us from them. It is at this point when we are no longer falling or getting pushed into the river, and begin jumping in of our own free will without any knowledge of why we are doing it. We are conditioned to do it and taught to believe that it is what we are meant to do with our lives, mistaking it as a path to success or as a way of seeking out external approval or validation.
Healing occurs from the inside out, not the outside in. When we are in pain or sick and seek out medicine to heal us, that medicine often just keeps symptoms at bay. Many times while it works to keep the symptoms at bay, it causes more harmful issues in other ways to our system. When you put a bandage on your wound, it is not the bandage that heals your wound, it is the healing power of your body. However, the bandage protects the wound while your body works to heal itself and is therefore an important part of the healing process.
Those of us who are going upstream to find out why people are falling in, jumping in, or being thrown in the river are doing important work. They are creating a protective layer that allows us to heal what’s going on inside ourselves. And those of us who have been engaging in the deep emotional healing of our trauma have paved the way for others who are ready to do so. We are the guides to help you on your own journey. No one can do the healing for you, but we can share our knowledge gained along our own to help guide you as you embark on your own.
There is no right or wrong time to start this journey. Whether you are upstream helping to keep people from jumping or getting pushed in, are midway through pushing someone else in, or find yourself coming up for air as you bounce through the rapids, you can consciously join your healing journey at any moment. As soon as you recognize that there is something speaking to you from a place deep within that is saying “hold on, something feels off”, raise your hand and ask for help. There is someone on the riverbank waiting to help you out, dry off, find your bearings, and begin the process from the very spot where you are standing.