“I’m a healer.”
I have to admit: I cringe on the inside each time I hear these seemingly harmless words. It runs rampant throughout the healing professions. They are well-intentioned words. So what’s the matter?
In my professional circles, I’ve crossed paths with body workers, mental health therapists, psychologists, physical therapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, holistic doctors, spiritual counselors, and the like. We all engage in work that is healing. But I don’t identify myself as a healer and I’m uneasy when others do.
At Human Garage, we do not believe that we are healers.
“But! You healed my pain!” Not so fast.
There’s a division amongst professionals in healing spaces in how we use language to describe our work.
I’ve always found language fascinating. The way we use our words matters. In the age of social media, words often become cheap and their value, lessened.
Did we heal you or did we unlock something that was already there?
How we talk about our work reflects our intention and our intention ultimately impacts the people we engage with and intend to serve.
There are those that refer to themselves as “healers” and those that believe they walk with and alongside people in their healing. It might seem subtle, but there’s a distinction.
At Human Garage, we do not see ourselves as “healers.” Does this really matter? Or is this just a futile semantic battle better left unfought?
I’ve been engaging in this dialogue with my friends and colleagues for months now and I believe it’s pivotal.
Let me back up a moment: I’ve done a lot of healing. I’ve sat on both sides of healing spaces. I’ve needed deep healing and I’ve walked with others in their healing. But here’s the fundamental difference: describing oneself as a “healer” is ultimately a question of power. It suggests something from within the healer that allows the person needing healing to heal. It takes away from the individual’s own strength coming to us to begin with. If I call myself a healer, it suggests you are lacking in something. You need what I have and you need me to “fix” you. Well, that doesn’t sound very empowering now does it?
To those of us at Human Garage, “healer” is wrapped up in ego. Healer means I have something special, something that you can’t have or touch or experience without me. Referring to ourselves as healers indicates a certain kind of power in the hands of “healers,” but it takes away the power from those who truly need it: people looking to heal.
So, what are we doing instead? We’re facilitating a process. We’re holding space for healing to take place. We’re demystifying and simplifying the healing process to not be so elusive. We’re unlocking stored pain and tightness and compression so that you can heal, so that what you need to be revealed to you can. We’re helping you remove obstacles so that healing can take place. For some of us, that may happen quickly. For others, it may happen slowly. Healing is a process. It may certainly involve crystals (we love those too), but it doesn’t involve a magic crystal ball.
We’re working with you as you begin to remove blockages that prevent you from experiencing your own innate capacity to heal.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours on the couch of my therapist’s office. I’ve engaged in thousands of yoga classes on my mat where deep, profound personal transformation took place alongside the words of gifted yoga teachers. I’ve laid on the table while Motion Mechanics at Human Garage facilitated releasing of decades-old physical and emotional pain stored in my glutes, my hamstrings, my hip flexors, and my sartorious. (Yep, my sartorious! That one is full of pain and tightness). I’ve been in the midst of a massage to find something release, tears poured out, and new space was created. Did these people heal me?
I don’t think so.
Were these experiences deeply and profoundly healing? Absolutely.
Did they create a space that facilitated my healing? Yes.
Could I have healed without these people’s presence? Maybe not.
They guided me, but they did not heal me. They helped removed barriers to my healing, certainly.
They said healing words. Healing took place. Pain subsided. Trauma released. They empowered me, so that I could heal. They did not take that away from me. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.
They got out of my way so that I could do the healing I needed to do. They did not make lavish promises they’d fix me, although they did think they could help.
Some will likely disagree with me, but naming ourselves as “healers” makes the healing work about our own desires and need to fix other people’s suffering in order to be needed. And when it becomes about us we’ve already taken away something from the person coming to us to heal. And if we begin to believe that only something outside of ourselves—something external—can heal us, we may end up waiting for something that will never arrive. That very something may be in you, wrapped up in pain, patterns of dysfunction in the body, postural imbalances, and unhealthy ways of being. We can most certainly help you peel away those layers through a process of realignment, but we’d be lying if we said we could wave a magic wand and heal you.
As one of many tools used in healing spaces, it’s time we are conscious and cautious in how we choose to use language. And as we do so, we may be surprised by human beings’ capacity to heal, without some superhuman healing powers of a “healer” to do so for us.