“Healed enough” is a myth, not a fact.
“I’m still too broken. I can only date when I’ve done all my healing work.”
“I still don’t feel ready to apply – I can still hear my father’s voice in my head, that means it’s not time, right? Not if his voice is still there.”
“I’ll think about doing it next year – I just worry that I haven’t been in therapy long enough yet.”
Each of these statements I’ve heard – in some iteration – nearly every month since I became a therapist.
At the heart of each of these statements is a fundamental belief: I’m not healed enough to do X, Y, Z…
And while this may feel like a fundamental belief, it’s not reality: It’s a myth.
And it’s a common myth that, for those who believe in it, can ironically hold them back from the people, places, and pursuits that would otherwise be the most healing agents in their recovery journeys.
I’ve written about this before but, to reiterate, those who come from relational trauma backgrounds may experience a host of complex biopsychosocial impacts that linger long into adulthood as a result of their adverse early childhoods.
One example of these impacts can include having maladaptive beliefs about one’s own “brokenness” (eg impaired self-worth).
Often, for folks who come from relational trauma histories, this translates into people often thinking that they need to be “all healed” before moving towards the things they truly want (dating, kids, grad school, that dream career) because they feel “ too broken” to have these good things in their lives now.
This belief is common. It’s normal and natural. But, just because it may be a normal and natural belief doesn’t mean that it’s an accurate belief.
So, while you may not feel “healed enough” (to sign up for that dating app, to ask that gorgeous person out, to research and lay the groundwork for the fulfilling work your heart and soul craves), your feelings don’t necessarily mean fact.
“Healed enough” is a myth. And it certainly doesn’t mean you have to wait to be “fully healed” before going after the people and pursuits you want in your life.
Taking action before you feel “healed enough” can be healing.
In fact, starting before you feel “healed enough” can actually be the most healing thing you could do.
Because moving towards the things that you want – those people, places, and pursuits that would fill your life with meaning and fulfillment – and specifically, moving towards those things before you feel ready can actually accelerate your healing journey by boosting your sense of agency, competency, and support the reclamation and healing of your self-esteem and self-worth in the world.
Reparative experiences – lived experiences and actions taken across an arc of time that challenge our cognitive and somatic distortions – can help rewire our maladaptive beliefs and behaviors about ourselves, others, and the world in a way that theory, imagination, or positive wishful thinking simply can’t compete with in terms of effectiveness.
It’s one thing to challenge your critical self-talk with kinder, more supportive self-talk. It’s another thing entirely to prove yourself through your lived experiences that those kinder, more supportive self-statements are, in fact, true.
Prompts to help you think through whether this myth of “needing to be fully healed before starting” is playing out in your own life
If, after reading this post, you can see that some part of you is deferring moving towards and taking action on the future you want because you don’t believe you’re “healed enough” yet, I invite you to consider this reframe: that perhaps the most healing thing you could do for yourself is to start before you feel “healed enough.”
Of course, though, I want you to balance what I’m saying – that there is no such thing as “healed enough” and that perhaps the most healing thing you could do would be to start now – with your own, innate wisdom.
Only you are the expert of your experience – not me, not your partner, your best friend, or some guru on Instagram.
What may be true for you is that, at this point in time, it is not the right time for you to move towards something even if you want it (for example: I knew early on and deep in my bones that I wasn’t ready to be a mother until I was later in life and boy am I glad I listened to that innate wisdom!).
Only you know what is best and right and true for you so, please, sit with what I shared today but always filter it through your own experience and wisdom.
And, if you’re curious to explore this topic further ask yourself:
- What am I craving and dreaming about that I’m not currently moving towards right now?
- What beliefs do I have about my capacity to do that?
- Are these beliefs helpful or harmful?
- Do these beliefs feel like voices and ideas from my past (like a familiar voice from someone close to me) or are they coming from my body, from some bone-deep wisdom and inner knowing inside of me?
- What do I imagine might happen if I begin to take action towards what I want?
- What’s the worst-case scenario and what’s the best-case scenario?
- Do I know anyone else who “started before they were ready” and who has happy results I’d like for myself?
- What would it take for me to emulate them? Would I like to do this?
If, after reading this post and completing these prompts, you feel like you would like professional and expert support to help you begin to move towards the people, places, and pursuits your heart is longing for, please find a therapist here on the Psychology Today directory.