healing, healing is not always curing, curing, self-healing, Karyn Shanks, Karyn Shanks MD

Healing is Not Always Curing

True, we all want to be cured. We all want our pain to go away, our wounds to heal, our function to be restored, and our energy to soar.

But I think there’s more. I hear this in what my clients blurt out when I ask them about their goals and aspirations. How they want to feel like their true selves, to live their best lives, and reach their full potential.

They’re talking about healing.

And while healing is our innate trajectory, it’s not the same as curing. Healing may lead to a cure, but not always.

Look at the natural world. Earth destroyed by fire or volcanic flow will soon sprout new trees and flowers. The waters flow again and the animals return. A new landscape takes the place of what once looked like total devastation.

And it never looks like what we’d expect—what we fear we’ll have to settle for. The scars are still there—the deep crags and crevices, the upended rocks, the deep valleys. But look at how our perceptions change, as time heals, as the remarkable beauty of healing takes hold. The earth’s potential for rebirth is not only unpredictable, it’s miraculous, jaw dropping, awe-inspiring. Nature doesn’t settle for cures.

We’re just the same. We may look for cures. But what we get instead, when we actively pursue our healing, is something far greater. We may not be cured—we may have scars, disabilities, and vulnerabilities that will need our lifelong attention—but we get our true, perhaps unpredictable, and often jaw dropping and awe-inspiring potential—whatever that may be, wherever that leads us.

Think of the life of Stephen Hawkins—never cured of his disease, confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, but nonetheless, while beautifully supported, lived a brilliant healing life and soared into the stratosphere!

Healing is not always curing.

Curing is our expectation for what we want to achieve—it’s a story. It assumes a particular preconceived outcome—to not be sick, to no longer have that “disease,” to no longer suffer. But healing is much bigger than that. Curing is inherently limited in its scope. But healing opens us to the possibilities that may be beyond our wildest dreams.

If we release the story of curing, while lovingly, reverently caring for ourselves, where might that land us?

Healing, Wholeness. Potential.


p.s. From my Archives:

The Dangerous Myth that Self-Care is Selfish. 2017.

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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