“We are all teachers and healers.” M. Scott Peck, M.D.
Dr. Peck spoke these words to me personally soon after his book The Road Less Traveled became an international best seller. These words became embedded in my mind from that day forward in the 1980’s. This concept made a profound impression on me; and instead of making me feel “special,” made me feel a sense of great responsibility.
Many psychiatrists have spoken words of wisdom to me through the years (ah, yes, there have been many), but no words have stayed with me quite like these. To think that everything I do and say is teaching people something, and that I have the ability to heal people by my attitudes, words, and actions is quite a lot to handle.
But as I have pondered these words through the years, they completely make sense. Most people are looking for answers to questions in their lives, and they look to the rest of humanity to find those answers. Everything that they observe, hear, and feel is contributing to their impression of themselves and the world around them. Through those same experiences people can receive healing; and unfortunately, can receive the opposite of healing.
Something as simple as your smile can teach a stranger who is going through a rough time that there is kindness and joy in life, and that knowledge can lead to healing whatever is troubling them whether it is emotional, spiritual, or physical. At the same time, your cold or disapproving look can confirm in their mind the lesson that the world is a cold place; and that experience for them can contribute to their illness.
Dr. Elaine Hatfield (University of Hawaii) has shown in her research that without speaking a word or even being visible, a happy person in the same room with an angry person has the effect of elevating the angry person’s mood. Of course, the opposite sometimes occurs: It is the happy person whose mood is negatively affected by the presence of an angry person in the room, without a word or look being exchanged. The lesson here is that you are teaching and healing without a word or a look. We are constantly giving off energy that has an effect on others around us, as well as on the environment.
Martin Buber, in his classic book I and Thou, illustrates how profoundly healing it is for a person to truly listen to another person. Both people are healed in that “I-Thou” experience. Your mere presence with someone can have a healing effect on them, and on you in the process. Martin Buber, a Jewish philosopher, attributes this healing effect to a Higher Power being present in that I-Thou relationship.
Many people think that they themselves are too damaged to be a teacher or healer; but throughout history in many cultures it has been shown that the most wounded among us (both physically and/or emotionally wounded) are the most healing influences. It is through our persistence to overcome our own struggles that we develop stronger healing and teaching energies.
You are a force for significant good in the Universe. What do you want to teach through your life? How will you direct your healing ability? You are a teacher and a healer.
Christopher Knippers, Ph.D. May 10, 2017