“We will look deep into your pain and conquer your demons.”
“It may be challenging but it will be so worth it.”
“It’s time to be brave enough to work through your trauma.”
“Don’t worry, you can do it, and I will be there to support you when it gets difficult.”
These are all real statements that I was confronted with while looking for a coach to help me overcome the trauma of a past abusive relationship.
All of the quotes seemed harmless…
All I heard was that in order to heal, I was going to have to accept that it would be difficult, challenging, and painful. And that was the last thing I wanted.
At the time I was in a new healthy relationship but all of the PTSD from my ex was coming right back up and wreaking havoc on my life. I honestly feared I was going to lose my boyfriend because of my own toxicity.
Despite that fear, I sure as hell didn’t feel brave enough to open up all my wounds and experience all my pain all over again. I was already doing that on a daily basis.
The rhetoric I was hearing was only reinforcing my fear
Unfortunately, I was stuck in that fear and pain for a really long time. I remember thinking:
Why do I have to keep going through more and more painful things just to have the life and love that I desire?
It made me angry. And lonely — really really lonely. It honestly made me feel that I wasn’t good enough to heal. That I couldn’t conquer my pain. That my reality would just be wrapped in my past trauma forever.
It made me feel like I had lost my whole life to my abusive ex — not just the years I had given him while we were married.
The wrong message with the right intention
Now, I know that those coaches, healers, and positive beings of light had no intention of their words having this effect. They were genuinely just trying to be supportive. And I am sure that many people don’t hear what I heard within them.
However, I also know that there are people out there that definitely, whether consciously or not, hear that discouragement in those attempts to be caring and motivating. They, too, are allowing that discouragement to keep them stuck in their pain.
Eventually, I started reading books and healed myself enough to not be afraid of diving into my pain, so I hired a coach. And then another coach. And another. But a whole new problem was coming up.
I was not getting the level of healing I needed
Yes, I learned a lot of tools but my daily anxiety was still affecting not only me, but those around me. I yearned to be free of all the fear and guilt and yet I couldn’t seem to find a program that worked for me. It was making me doubt myself all over again.
Then one day, I was playing Dungeons & Dragons with my kids and I had an idea.
What if healing wasn’t something that we had to think of as healing? What if I could actually shed the belief that healing could only be achieved through a ton of work, effort, and struggle?
What if healing could be fun? What if it could be a game?
That realization changed my life
I have always been a lover of all things fantasy and nerdy. I eat fiction books for breakfast and have watched all the anime. I cosplay and play both video and tabletop games. I even write my own fiction work. But before that time, I had not thought about the possibility that the content I adore being used as a tool, not just to bypass my pain, but to consciously overcome it.
It is my deep held belief that as humans we have forgotten the power of our imagination to shape our reality.
Yes, with the growth of different manifestation strategies and methods that have come to the surface over the last few decades we are rediscovering that power. But, what if we used our imagination to experience the things that we are too afraid to truly dive into in our physical life?
I gave my journey a storyline
I created a character of me, a world she lived in, and a monster that I was going to overcome — the embodiment my fear of being unlovable.
When I learned a new skill, had a new realization, or addressed a new wound I would level up my character and give her gear and storyline. I narrated her world like it was a novel. Each challenge or panic attack I faced was a quest I made her go on. I would see her overcoming things as I did.
And it worked. Not only did I find that my healing was becoming a reality that was deeply and profoundly changing the way I interacted with the world, but I was no longer daunted or overwhelmed by the idea of my own growth. I was having fun.
Fun is the key
It made my world feel free again. After you have gone through a traumatic experience — whether it be abuse or a bad injury or just simply getting fired from a job — the last thing you want to do is to have your journey to heal that trauma be traumatic too.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that the methods and philosophies of the coaches that were trying to help me didn’t work for other people or weren’t effective. I am sure that they were. But they were giving my brain ammunition to keep me stuck and therefore nothing was clicking.
That is why the power of fun is so important. As humans we learn through stories and we deeply want to imagine and create. Give yourself the freedom to let what you imagine take you to levels you never dreamed.
Through imagination we reconnect to our soul. To the childlike wonder we once had for the world. To the freedom that is within us.
Since discovering the power of fun, I am no longer burdened with the pain and the guilt of the past. My relationship is stronger than ever and I haven’t had a panic attack in years.
The best part is: my character is still growing and learning and taking on bigger and bigger quests. And I am still enjoying the journey more than I ever thought possible.
So, stop buying into the belief that growth must be challenging but instead ask yourself, how can you make it fun. How can you make it an adventure worth having?
ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN GOALCAST