A week ago, I cut the tip of my right thumb while making thin potato slices with a mandoline (a highly effective, but dangerous, kitchen tool). When it happened, it bled profusely for quite a while, requiring pressure, elevation, and a number of changes of bandages. It really hurt. For a day or so thereafter, the slightest pressure produced more pain and bleeding. I had to be careful to leave it alone and keep it safe. But within four days, it was completely closed and no longer painful and I forgot about it as I went about my daily tasks. And now it’s almost gone, just a quickly fading pinkish mark where the nasty cut used to be.
I was never worried about it. I knew for sure the pain would pass and it would heal, and heal quickly, as long as I kept it safe and left it alone. Cuts always do. We can count on it.
The quickly healing cut reminded me of the miracle of the human body, the fact that we are designed to assure the natural healing of our wounds as long as we don’t interfere. It reminded me, too, of how readily we forget that we have the same capacity for natural healing of our psychological wounds, the wounds we feel but cannot see. Our psychological immune system, our innate health, is just as powerful and ordinary as our physiological immune system.
I learned this lesson first many years ago in a Principles class, very early in my exposure to the understanding that we create our reality from the inside out. I had just come from the dentist’s office, where, in the waiting room, I had filled out a questionnaire in a magazine about various types of stressors. The gist was that if 7 or more of those things had occurred to you in the past year, you were extremely stressed. I scored 10. At the break, I argued with the presenter that, given all the stresses I had to deal with, there was no way this understanding could help me. It would be “irresponsible” for me to “take my mind off the ball” and all the “problems” I had to deal with. I’ll never forget the response. “If you had suffered an abrasion and a scab had formed, would you immediately start picking the scab off of it, and then continually scratch at it?” I replied indignantly, “Of course not! It would never heal if I did that.” The presenter replied, “Hmmm,” and walked away. I was angry for a moment, and then I started laughing. Thinking about your “problems” incessantly in a stressed state of mind was like picking a scab, interfering with a natural healing process that would take care of itself if left alone. The whole class was about the innate wisdom we all have that will emerge if we leave our upsetting thinking alone and quiet our minds. It works just the way our innate immune system will provide what is needed to heal a wound if we don’t interfere and keep it clean and safe.
Why is it so simple and obvious to us to leave our cuts and bruises alone and let natural healing take its course, and yet so difficult to leave our thinking alone? Honestly, this question has puzzled me from the beginning of my realization that we are all using the energy of Mind to power our Thought and Consciousness to create our experience of life. The logic of the Principles makes it clear that our psychological immune system is as ordinary and natural as our physiological immune system. Yet we persist in trying to interfere with the natural healing process that would comfortably return us to balance psychologically. Figuratively, we keep picking that scab. Instead of accepting temporary psychological pain and discomfort as part of life, something that comes and goes, instead of just keeping ourselves safe and not acting on distressed thinking but leaving it alone, allowing it to take its natural course and pass, we roll into gear and try to fix ourselves. We worry about being in a bad mood, we struggle to get out of it, we complain, all of which slows down the natural healing process.
There was nothing I could do that would speed the healing of my thumb. It would happen on its own, in a reasonable time. There was plenty I could have done to slow or stop the healing, such as make no effort to protect the cut from dirt and germs, keep pulling away the scab, use the thumb as though it was its healthy self and not temporarily impaired … So I was at choice as to how I would respond to this temporary distress. But following simple common sense was the clear and obvious choice.
In the words of Sydney Banks,
“If your thoughts wander onto a negative and rocky path, don’t take them too seriously. Refrain from analyzing, because, I guarantee you, you will analyze yourself forever, never reaching an end, and fail bitterly to find peace of mind.”
The Missing Link, p. 106