How to start healing from emotional trauma: the pyramid of healing

Transformation isn’t sweet and bright. It’s a dark and murky, painful pushing. An unraveling of the untruths you’ve carried in your body. A practice in facing your own created demons. A complete uprooting before becoming.

Victoria Erickson, author of ‘Edge of Wonder’

Going on a journey of healing and self-transformation can be one of the most painful yet beautiful experiences we’ll ever go through. For those of us who are truth-seekers, healers and interested in personal growth, this a process we will go through many times during our lives.

Tower Moments: Healing journey catalysts

Quite often, the start of a healing journey is not something we always welcome with open arms. I’ve discovered that often the Universe will give us a person or situation that causes us to experience a sort of ‘Tower Moment’ in order to force us to take a look around and stop repeating behaviors that are detrimental to our souls and life purpose.

The Tower is a Major Acarna card in Tarot. It is often said to represent sudden, disruptive revelation, and potentially destructive change. Although the card looks awful, I often interpret it as a necessary evil – something has had to be destroyed in order to make way to build something beautiful.

The lightening is an ‘Act of God’ and it’s almost as if the Divine has had to intervene with a ‘Tower Moment’ in our lives because we’ve been unwilling to regard things as they are and make the required decisions.

The Tower in the 1909 Rider-Waite tarot deck.

The Pyramid of Healing

While I’ve been working on my own healing after a ‘Tower Moment’, I came across a healing pyramid graphic by Nila Conzen from About The Good Life, on Pinterest.

The pyramid of healing defines the steps you need to take in order to achieve transformation and freedom from emotional trauma. You cannot move up a step without working through the steps below.

The pyramid of healing really resonated with me and so it inspired me to create my own, adapted to reflect the stages I’ve been going through and the sort of affirmations that I’ve been using to rewire my way of thinking about myself.

Here is my version of the pyramid of healing:

The Pyramid of Healing shows the likely steps you take during your healing journey

Stage 1: Self-awareness

Most experts will tell you that self-awareness is always the first step in healing. This makes sense, right? How can you begin to heal or change if you’re not aware of what needs healing or changing?

An example of this that I can share with you from my own healing journey has been the awareness that I have never been very good at creating and maintaining personal boundaries. By simply having this awareness, it allows me to begin moving through to the other stages in order to create transformation.

Affirmation: I am aware that I need to change and heal

Stage 2: Responsibility

Once we have been made aware of what needs to change, we’ll do one of three things;

  • ignore the problem and try to live with how our emotional pain keeps showing up in our lives
  • we might try and blame it on someone else
  • or we’ll take responsibility for it and decide that only we can heal ourselves and free ourselves from our pain

Until we take full responsibility for our own healing, we can’t begin to move through the next stages of the pyramid of healing.

Going back to my example of discovering I hadn’t been creating and maintaining boundaries, at the second stage I had to consciously choose to take responsibility for this, knowing that enforcing boundaries in particular was going to be painful for me, but necessary – no one else could do this for me.

Affirmation: Only I am responsible for my own healing

Stage 3: Exploration

The exploration stage can be particularly painful. It really takes a lot of determination and compassion for yourself to keep going through. At this stage you will have to do a lot of soul-searching in order to understand why and how emotional trauma has been created.

Again, until this stage is covered, it is impossible to move onto the next stage.

Using my current journey to continue with the example, this stage has seen me analyze things such as:

  • why do I need boundaries?
  • why do I find it so hard to create and maintain boundaries with certain people?
  • what does life look like for me when I don’t have boundaries?
  • who will not like it if I start creating and maintaining boundaries? And am I ready to release those people if they decide to go away?

As you can see, a lot of this exploration has forced me to look a lot at my childhood and other painful experiences from the past. Not an easy or pleasant task.

Affirmation: Even if it’s painful, I allow myself to uncover emotional wounds

Stage 4: Understanding & Forgiveness

Uncovering the who, what, why, where and when of our emotional trauma allows us to have an understanding, which ultimately allows us to forgive.

This forgiveness will be for ourselves and also for other people in our life.

Personally, I feel that having an understanding also means that our forgiveness is genuine and healthy. To better explain this, I’ll go back to my example about boundaries.

In doing the work to understand my issues around boundaries, I’ve been able to see why I have struggled with this and how I’ve allowed other people to hurt me.

I’ve then been able to forgive myself for my part in the process of creating emotional trauma, and I’ve forgiven the other person too but coming from a place of strength where they won’t be able to do it again. I hope this makes sense…

Affirmation: I have understanding and forgiveness for myself

Stage 5: Love & Support

Once you get to this stage of the healing journey, self-love and support isn’t something that you feel you have to force. It starts to become something that comes naturally to you, until it is just part of who you are.

You’ll notice that your self-talk is now positive, loving and supportive, and when there are times that you revert back to old habits, you’ll pick up on it straight away and correct your behavior.

You’ll start to seek out healthy relationships with others and notice major red flags when relationships aren’t right for you. You’ll find it easier and easier to listen to your intuition and connect with your higher self.

You’ll make the effort to nurture your mind, body and soul, and to prioritize your happiness. You’ll still face obstacles from time to time but you’ll have the internal strength and resources to get through.

Affirmation: I am safe and I am loved

Stage 6: Transformation

After mastering the first five stages, you’ll have transformed yourself in a way you’d never imagined.

Others will also notice the difference that has taken place in you. There may also be other less healthy people in your life that don’t like your transformation, and that will be okay. At this point, you are strong enough not to take responsibility for other people’s opinions or baggage.

You will notice more joy, more gratitude, more spontaneous creativity and opportunities in life. You may also notice other emotional wounds that need healing and decide to go through the process again. The next time, you’ll be stronger and more confident in the process.

Affirmation: I am my authentic self

You may also like: A free guided healing visualization

Healing takes time

There’s no firm set of rules when it comes to healing our emotional wounds. Each of us is unique, we have our own story and our own need to do things a certain way. In addition to this, some of us may heal at different speeds – for some it can be a quick process if we’ve been through the healing stages before and are familiar with what needs to be done.

For some of us, some wounds take longer to heal. The journey can be frustrating because just when we think we’re making progress, we feel like we’ve taken three steps back.

That’s why I included the quote from Victoria Erickson at the top of this post. It’s a great reminder that healing isn’t all just crystals, warm bubble baths and face masks. True healing of emotional trauma is painful, exhausting and messy and sometimes it pushes us right to the edge. But friends, the pay-off is worth it.

The transformation is worth it. We are worth it. If a ‘Tower Moment’ has caused you to realize you can’t go on living half a life, just know that you absolutely can push on through and get to a stage where you’re living your best life.

Compassion & kindness on the journey

At the time of writing this, I feel like I’m going backwards and forwards through the stages. But I’m getting closer and closer to being able climb my way through the top three stages of the pyramid – even if some days I feel like I’m stuck back again at the self-awareness stage. There’s so much to learn and discover about ourselves.

One of the most important things I’ve been learning during this time is to be patient, gentle and kind with myself. Patience is not my fortรฉ to be perfectly honest and so I have to keep reminding myself that this healing journey is worth it, and that I myself am worth investing time and effort in.

Affirmation: I do the work required to heal, being kind and gentle with myself a long the way

I’d be really interested to hear your comments on this pyramid of healing. Does it resonate with you? Do you recognize any of the stages in your own healing journey? Are there stages that you think are missing? Which stage are you at now and what are your struggles? Leave me a comment below!

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How to start healing from emotional trauma

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