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How to Find Healing by Letting Go of Expectations

Maybe it’s time to shift from who you aren’t, to who you are.

Breaking free
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, the medical educator, therapist, teacher, and author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings has a lot to say about healing.

In the Bill Moyers program, “Healing and the Mind,” Remen has this to say about the healing process: “Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you—all of the expectations, all of the beliefs—and becoming who you are.”

She speaks from personal as well as professional experience, having lived with Crohn’s Disease for more than 60 years. And I receive her words as an inspired challenge to see healing as an expansive process, rather than the process of moving past illness or hardship.

Perhaps you do too?

Remen asks us to “let go of everything that isn’t you.” That’s hard—very hard. How do we decide what defines us? Once we do, how do we release ways we perpetuate those things that don’t serve that identity, especially when those things are entrenched in our lives over years or decades?

Remen’s invitation is to invest our energy in reflecting on what we want and need to release. When I think about what this might look and feel like, I imagine releasing negative self-talk, doubts about my own inner strength, and beliefs like, “my challenges define me.”

I don’t quite know how to start—and I don’t have to (neither do you). Instead, let’s find comfort and grounding in the opportunity to grow, release, and become.

When we do, we’ll know we’re moving in the direction of healing.

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