Where to Start?

We are a world in need of healing, living lives in need of healing. Our communities and families need healing. I need healing.

Sometimes when clients come in for therapy, they feel overwhelmed when laying out all their problems. There seem to be so many, so varied, so extensive that it is unclear where to start, what to do. They have psychological houses in need of new plumbing, a new roof, extermination of the bedbugs, a fire extinguisher for the stove that keeps igniting, and they have to live in these houses while doing this work.

A small dog wrapped in a blanket.
This guy wants to hide out a while. Photo by Matthew Wiebe

Perhaps you are in good health, but you are looking out to your communities in need and finding a similar dilemma. The temptation is simply to abandon the house. The temptation is to run around screaming making inept efforts at all the problems. It is horrible to think about living in this place; we sense it could be so much more but the work of repair seems so big and so costly.

Where to start? If you were sitting with me, I’d ask you to take a deep breath, filling your belly, and then let it out. Breathing doesn’t solve anything. Breathing helps us to slow down to figure out what needs doing. We must live in our houses to work on them. Many of us wish that we could simply avoid our houses and then come back to find them all better.

The good news is; in some ways you can start anywhere. All of these things are problems, but working on any of them will immeasurably improve your house and make the other projects easier. What feels most pressing when you slow down? What problem is most urgent? What can we do to slow down the damage? If the stove is spontaneously igniting, then disconnecting the gas or electricity seems like a good first step. Things aren’t better, but they’re not getting worse.

Now you’re thinking about all the other things to do, but remember to breathe again. What is your body telling you? What do your feelings tell you? What does your mind tell you? What’s the next step? If you become paralyzed trying to figure it out with your mind, acknowledge those thoughts and drop deeper.

The challenge of deep, long-term healing is balancing the urgent and the important. What helps is diving inside and reconnecting to what I want to manifest. What kind of house do I want to create? What is the next step that will make my house more like my vision? Emergencies arise and want our attention. Sometimes it is necessary to address the emergency–the curtains are on fire. Other times the emergency is a distraction–the neighbor doesn’t like the color paint we’re using on the walls. No one can tell you which is which, they can only offer feedback and help you figure it out.

Holding the big picture, the vision, helps but focusing on all the ways our house is not that vision paralyzes. It is a difficult skill, holding the vision while keeping our focus small and practical. We take the steps in front of us. We make the phone call to the exterminator. We wash all the bedding with hot water. We do a bit each day and the house improves. Emergencies arise, we deal with them, we get back to work.

Where to start? If you can’t decide, just pick something and spend some time with it.