Why Healing in Community Outshines Healing Alone

When I was eight years old, I used to cry in my room behind closed doors, with a pillow over my head so my parents wouldn’t hear me. Growing up, showing my sensitivity to the world was not encouraged. The adults in my life asked me to develop a thicker skin and stop being weak. No wonder I grew up to believe that healing was a solitary journey — a path we had to walk alone.

Have you ever felt that by showing your vulnerabilities, you were somehow less than others?

Have you ever experienced shame when asking for help, as if this admission of need somehow made you weaker?

In a world that glorifies self-sufficiency, admitting you need others can feel like a defeat. Yet, it’s precisely in our connections with others that true healing begins.

Along the way, I discovered that the most significant steps toward healing often happen hand in hand with others.

Why healing together outshines healing alone

We live in a post-pandemic world—a world coping with the loss of essential human experiences like touch, hugs, and being in the same room with loved ones. Many adapted to working from home and reduced in-person interactions, leading some to find comfort in isolation. Consequently, mental health issues have surged, with increasing numbers of people experiencing anxiety and depression.

With this rise in mental health challenges, the common misconception that we should navigate these struggles alone only compounds the issue. However, emerging research provides compelling evidence to the contrary.

Despite the predominant belief that we must heal alone, research consistently demonstrates that support significantly enhances and speeds up the healing process. Studies from institutions such as the National Institutes of Health have shown how supportive relationships helped shield adolescents from the psychological toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, the CDC has emphasized how strong social bonds can bolster both mental and physical health, protecting against the detrimental effects of loneliness and social isolation. These findings reinforce that healing is most effective within the support of empathetic communities. Participating in community activities and broadening social networks are crucial not only for personal well-being but also for strengthening the resilience of communities as a whole. For more information, visit the NIH study and the CDC’s insights on social connectedness.

Throughout history, communities have often been the cornerstone of support and resilience, particularly for women. In ancient times, living in closely-knit communities was the norm, with communal living creating a strong sense of togetherness and mutual aid. Women, especially, played a central role in these communities, supporting each other through various life events from childbirth to child rearing and daily household management. This communal approach provided women with a network of support that was crucial not only for personal survival but also for the nurturing of the entire community. They shared knowledge and skills, from healing practices to food preparation and preservation, which were passed down through generations.

Women were rarely isolated in their experiences; instead, they found strength in the collective wisdom and assistance of their peers.

Realizing that women have always healed in communities supported my understanding and belief that every human being has a natural need to be seen, heard, understood, and accepted.

Every human being has a need to belong.

This understanding was at the back of my head when I wrote the Soulful Healer Manifesto included in my book, “Becoming Soulful: Six Keys for Profound Transformation in Your Therapy, Coaching, or Healing Practice.” The opening phrase of the Manifesto says: “We stand together as a collective, knowing that healing together outshines healing alone.

The Role of Therapists in Communal Healing

Talk Therapists play a pivotal role in initiating the healing process, often providing the initial guidance and tools necessary for individuals to begin addressing their mental health challenges within the confines of the therapy room. However, the journey towards healing extends far beyond these sessions, passing through the daily lives of those seeking help.

Effective therapy empowers individuals not only to understand and manage their emotions within therapy but also equips them with the strategies needed to engage positively with their communities, friends, and families. This ongoing interaction with a supportive network is where much of the real healing occurs.

The importance of these everyday interactions cannot be overstated. They provide continuous feedback, support, and the opportunity to practice new skills in real-world settings. For many, these interactions are where the lessons of therapy are tested and refined. Therapists can encourage this process by helping their clients build social skills, develop healthier interpersonal relationships, and integrate into community activities that reinforce their therapy goals. Ideally, therapists serve not just as healers but as facilitators of a broader, community-based support system that is essential for sustained mental health and well-being.

I can recall many instances where my clients achieved breakthroughs and healed from past wounds and traumas. Yet, they struggled to apply this healing in real-life situations. One woman made peace with her deceased mother, whom she had resented for many years, but her anger and resentment still filtered through her communications with her adult children. Another woman overcame her sadness and grief about a childhood lost to premature responsibility, as she had to act as an adult because her parents neglected her and her siblings. However, she continued to burden herself with responsibilities, unable to embrace and enjoy the present moment. It was through skill-building, practicing communication techniques, and aligning with new values and behaviors that these women, among others, were able to heal not only the emotional scars left by their past but also to repair their current relationships.

Micro to Macro Community Building

My journey with a small group of women in Atlanta began as a simple meeting but quickly transformed into a profound movement that would exceed all expectations. For six months, we gathered weekly, diving into the six keys outlined in my book, which are designed to unlock a deeper, more soulful approach to living and healing. These sessions were more than just meetings; they were a crucible for transformation.

As we progressed, the bonds among the women in this group strengthened. What started as a group of individuals on their own personal journeys morphed into a cohesive unit—a sisterhood of soulful healers. This pioneering group, which went through my Soulful Healer program, not only grew close to each other but also took on a life of its own. The connections deepened, enabling each member to discover and embrace her unique path to empowerment, both personally and professionally.

Together, they started engaging in activities that nourished their spirits and bodies, activities that were not part of the official program. They hiked, danced, and shared treatments using each member’s expertise, truly embodying the essence of a soulful tribe.

The success of this group sparked a question: What if we could replicate this model? What if we could create sisterhoods and communities of soulful healers globally who could flourish and impact the world just as profoundly as this group has?

This experience illustrated the power of micro-communities as a foundation for broader communal and professional networks, all committed to soulful healing and positive global change. The transformation observed in Atlanta is a testament to the potential that lies in nurturing small, focused groups dedicated to genuine connection and mutual growth.

Expanding the Circle: Cultivating a Global Community of Soulful Healers

Inspired by the transformative journey of a small group of women in Atlanta, my vision for ‘Becoming Soulful,’ which will be released in the summer of 2024, is to cast a wider net. The book aims to engage not only individuals seeking personal healing but also professionals eager to embody and integrate the Soulful Healer Method into their practices.

This dual approach enriches a global network of soulful healers—some professionally recognized and others awakening the healer within themselves. Each contributes uniquely to their surroundings, embodying the very essence of not healing alone by sharing their wisdom and compassion with a broader audience – personally or professionally.

Just as this Atlanta group laid the groundwork for profound interpersonal connections and self-discovery, “Becoming Soulful” wishes to catalyze a global movement. Here, professionals rise in empowerment, channeling deep, inner wisdom to ignite transformative healing insights. They are envisioned not just as practitioners but as pioneers steering their clients—patients, family, friends, and all brave souls—toward empowerment and healing. This support network becomes a compass guiding them through life’s grand adventure, enriching their experiences and ensuring a journey marked by growth and self-realization.

I know I am a little bit ahead of myself. But this vision extends an invitation to all readers of my upcoming book: by engaging with the teachings of ‘Becoming Soulful,’ you awaken the Soulful Healer within. I encourage you to embrace this role wholeheartedly—dare to share the gift of your presence and healing with the world, influencing lives and fostering change far beyond your immediate circle. Remember, you are not meant to heal alone because healing together truly outshines healing alone.

To dive deeper into these teachings, get familiar with my book, ‘Becoming Soulful: Six Keys for Profound Transformation’.

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