If there’s been any drawback to embarking on my healing journey, it’s feeling very misunderstood by people who have chosen not to heal themselves. I guess a selfish reason why I advocate so hard for everyone to take care of their mental health is that I’d like to feel less alone. People who choose to lean in to their brokenness instead of trying to heal just can’t understand the moves of a healing person. Here are some things that I’ve noticed in my own journey which, I suspect, you may experience on yours as well:
1. Unhealed people resent that you’ve changed.
And let’s face it, you have. I’d be worried about you if all this work you’re doing on yourself wasn’t resulting in change. The problem is, all that delicious, satisfying, world shifting change that you feel is so good for your mental health … they see it as a problem. They see you setting healthy boundaries and say that you’ve become mean. You take steps to prioritize yourself and they call you selfish. Rather than celebrating your attempts at self care, they resent that you’re no longer putting them first.
2. Unhealed people will deliberately misunderstand you.
I want to say first that because unhealed people are not working on their own healing, they are already prone to actually misunderstanding you. You know, taking your words and actions personally when they shouldn’t, and that sort of thing. So, I think some grace is warranted here. But something that I can’t help noticing is that unhealed people will deliberately twist, misconstrue, or misrepresent what you say and do in order to put you down. Your growth holds a mirror up to their face which reflects back to them their own lack of growth. I’m sure you can remember yourself before you began healing and can relate — it just doesn’t feel good to see someone becoming their highest self while you stagnate. So, the unhealed will sometimes try to make your good deeds look bad as a way to justify their lack of growth.
3. Unhealed people always have excuses for why you are healing but they aren’t.
And they will do their best to minimize the work you’ve done. They don’t have as much time as you do, or they have too many other things on their plate. Of course they would be working on themselves if their life was simple and easy as yours, but alas, they have so much more to do than you. They are quick to deny any sacrifices of time, money, and fun you have made in order to begin healing, choosing instead to believe that if only they had your life, they could do it too. Granted, you may have certain privileges that they don’t have and those are valid. They may not have enough disposable income to afford therapy, or don’t have transportation to get there. These are fair points. However, there are many ways outside of therapy to begin a healing journey (as I’m sure you know). There is really no excuse for them to make no attempt at change. The fact, plain and simple, is that they just don’t want to.
4. Unhealed people point to your mistakes or shortcomings as evidence that you aren’t really growing.
This one truly kills me, and as someone who shares most of my life — the good and the bad — on social media, it’s one that I encounter all the time. Unhealed people don’t realize that growth is a recursive process. You take steps forward, and sometimes back. Your growth has allowed you to handle your missteps with honesty and compassion. You acknowledge your mistakes, but you don’t beat yourself up anymore. You recognize that you are a human who is healing, not healed. It will be a lifelong process, so grace is required. But the unhealed don’t want to give that grace or compassion. Instead, when you make mistakes or you backpedal in your healing they say, “See. I knew you weren’t actually doing any work.” Or, “I knew it. You’re all talk and no action.” Or their personal favorite, “you’re not as enlightened as you think you are!” They would rather call you a sham than believe that you are a healing person who will sometimes falter along the way.
5. Unhealed people will try to convince you that you are the problem.
They do this in a number of ways. They will point to the fact that you are in therapy and they aren’t as evidence that you are messed up, not them. “Healthy people don’t need to go to the doctor” and all that jazz. They will call you a narcissist. They will call you a fraud. If they have done something that has caused you to set necessary boundaries they will blame you for what they did, citing all the things about you that are sharp or hard to love. Your confidence and your growth frighten them, so they do whatever they can to steal it from you.
6. Unhealed people will eventually try to harm your reputation or you relationships.
Not all unhealed people, but some for sure. Given enough time, their resentment toward you can eventually turn poisonous. They will try to control the way people see you — working to damage your reputation among friends or even in your marriage or your job (if they can). It’s known as the Tall Poppy Phenomenon, or cutting down the tall poppy. Instead of celebrating your happiness, growth and success, they will attempt to hold back, criticize, or sabotage it.
It’s important to understand that you can’t change people who don’t want to change, and you can’t control their choices. The only person you can control is yourself. So, why am I sharing this with you if you can’t do anything to change the way the unhealed in your life are treating you? I’m sharing so that you’ll know it when you see it. So that someone will have told you ahead of time, so that when it happens, you’ll be ready. You’ll be immune to their attempts at gaslighting and less likely to internalize the things they say to you or about you. That’s really all you can do.
You are worthy.
You are easy to love.
You are not a burden.
You are doing well.
Keep going. ❤️