What’s the difference between fixing and healing?

What are our bodies, our feelings, heck, our planet asking for in our pain, suffering, and feeling stuck?

To remember who we are.

To blast through the false narratives, frustration, and exhaustion to remember who the heck we are. Gorgeous beings of wisdom, wholeness, and self-healing. But hovering around an unsustainable equilibrium of suffering.

Where do we begin?

First things first, right?

We must accept our assignment to heal.

Then, tell our new story of healing as we upend the old one that’s been holding us back.

How do we do that?

Stop asking to be fixed.

Instead, ask to be healed.

We fix things that are broken.

Broken is the version of our illness story that simplifies what’s going on, so we fit into the disease box that western biomedicine has created to explain and help us. It’s noble. The goal is to heal. Only it can’t heal because it’s looking at us all wrong.

It may keep us alive so we can go on to heal. By heading off the heart attack, repairing the retina, or putting the cancer into remission, we buy time. But what we may not realize is how fixing is not the same as healing.

So, what’s healing?

Healing begins with understanding the deeper, wider context of the story of human suffering and illness in a human life.

Healing sees us within the dynamic context of our lives, our terrain—the dynamic relationships between: Genes—Environment—Life Experiences—Lifestyle Habits—Mindsets and Beliefs—Communities and Culture—Ancestral Legacies—Purpose. That makes each of us who we are. That connects us with everyone else and the Earth, herself. We’ll be exploring our terrain of healing in the next section, We Flow.

“Heal,” derived from Old English Haelan and Proto-Germanic Hailjan, both mean “to make whole.”

So, healing is wholeness. Not fixing. Not a diagnosis. Not a disease-specific treatment protocol. But reconnecting to who we really are. The laws and exquisite beauty of the Earth we carry inside these miraculous bodies. Our intrinsic wisdom. Healing is wholeness. Wholeness is our flow. Flow, as you’ll soon see, that is ours to direct.

Yah, you know this in your bones.



An excerpt from my upcoming new book, Unbroken: Remember Your Wholeness.

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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