Outside of alternative therapy circles, most people have never heard of a 'healing crisis'. For those of us used to the 'magic bullet' approach of conventional medicine, where obvious symptoms are magic-ed away, often overnight, by the right drug or pill, 'healing' and 'crisis' just don't seem to go together.
You take your pills as prescribed, and you're healed! End of story.
But that's not always how real, fundamental healing works. When you're treating the root of an issue or problem, whether it's spiritual, emotional or physical, the external problems can often appear to get worse, before they get better.
Why is this?
The main answer is that when you get to the source of the problem, and trigger its release, this can lead to external symptoms worsening, sometimes dramatically. Think of it this way: there's a blockage in your pipe. In order to free the blockage and get things flowing again, you have to get your hands dirty, and pull out whatever is clogging up the system.
Pulling that stuff out is messy, icky, gross - but the only way to really solve the blockage. And once it's gone, the problem has completely disappeared.
It's the same with healing crises. Say, you want to work on anger. As you start to focus your attention on the problem, God usually makes sure that your rage fits multiply exponentially, and go up in intensity and unpleasantness.
On the surface, it looks like things just got a whole lot worse, and this is where a lot of people get demoralised and give up. But really? You're just cleaning your pipe, and seeing what was really stuffing the whole system up. Once all that repressed anger gets unstuck, you'll see that your anger starts to diminish rapidly, afterwards. That's a spiritual healing crisis.
An emotional healing crisis could be when a whole bunch of sadness, or grief, or disappointment, or shame, or guilt starts bubbling out of you, and you find yourself feeling devastated or weepy, for no obvious external reason.
Uhoh - things just got worse.
But really? They didn't. Instead of slowing down your energy and seriously affecting your health and well-being, all those old feelings are now rising to the surface, and making an exit out of your system. The week or two of intense emotion will pass, and you'll start to feel lighter and happier than you ever did before.
It also works this well with physical healing crises. Spots and all sorts of weird stuff can show up in places and quantities never seen before; mucus can increase, and start oozing out of every orifice (sorry - don't read this blog over your breakfast munchies!) Pain of all sorts can sometimes intensify - and it looks like things have just got worse.
But really? All the inflammation in your system that was making you ill is now moving out, and unblocking your system. In a few weeks' time, you'll probably feel like a completely different person.
So how can we tell if things are really getting worse, or whether we're just experiencing a healing crisis? The following tips should hopefully help you get some clarity on what's really going on:
The key thing is to not panic. Healing crises aren't fun, but once you understand that they are healing you, not hurting you, at a fundamental level, that makes them so much easier to cope with.