Symbols can play a powerful role in the process of healing and recovery. As humans, we have all had experiences of loss and trauma. We’ve experienced losing loved ones, maybe our health, or lost a much-needed job. It’s inevitable. Nothing in this world lasts forever. The problem is that we are never prepared when bad things happen and we struggle to process it. It certainly can’t be fixed by an hour-long therapy session or a weekend workshop.
If you find yourself stuck and unable to shift you need to move through the loss and distress and reconnect with your meaningful purpose. This requires symbolisation of the experience.
One way to symbolise your experiences is simply by talking about them. Telling your story to someone can be cathartic and healing. It can move the pain and trauma into a story that is unique to you. It makes your feelings and emotions about the experience conscious. You give the experience words, a name, and a description.
Another way to use symbolism for healing is to find a symbol that can pull you through an episode of distress. When you are in distress your psyche will naturally be attracted to a symbol that can heal you and move you forward. You cannot overcome serious psychological crises but you can outgrow them. This is the goal of the symbol. For some this solace can be found in nature or being with animals. It can be anything that transports you to another place, another time, and a different way of being that contains this magical elixir of healing. The symbol will help you to move beyond your current experience into the future.
If you have a traumatic event that you need to deal with, write in your journal about it, express how it made you feel and what emotion it still raises in you. Where does it lie in your body? How do you feel about yourself in relation to this experience?
Once you have finished reread it and create a symbol for your story. First state your intent maybe about how you have learnt a lesson from the experience, how it was not your fault, or that you would not be who you are today had you not had that experience.
Next create a symbol of healing, letting go. First, fill yourself with a feeling of peace and acceptance. Then ask the universe/God/Nature/your higher self to give you a symbol of healing. It will appear instantly. Take the first thing that comes to you. Do not doubt it or try to change it. Write it down. It could be an object, a song, an animal even.
During the week reflect on your symbol. It should take the place of your traumatic memories. As the symbol contains both conscious and unconscious content, it is a far more powerful remedy for healing the psyche, because it takes into consideration the unconscious aspects of the trauma that you are not aware of.
Take time to reflect on how you feel about the event and the effect the symbol has on you.
When I did this exercise I received the oak tree as a symbol – tall, strong, and well-rooted.