A spiritual teacher who I’ve worked with for many years has repeated one of his core concepts to me more times than I can remember: “Your gifts flow from your wounds.”

Traumas, failures, and injuries interrupt our lives, alter our paths, and in some ways define our lives. They can destroy us and turn us into victims or they can expose new parts of us and cause us to examine our lives and grow.

He feels that with every personal paradigm shift we experience, as we approach the threshold that marks the transition to that next phase in our lives, a wound awaits us.

That wound is meant to initiate us into a new level by piercing our ego, opening us up to the gifts that are offered in this new place.

When seen through this lens, vulnerability becomes a strength: your ability to be wounded is your access to your power, provided you can incorporate and find meaning in the experience instead of being crippled by it or becoming stuck in resistance to it.

I see how this is true in my own life. The depression that overtook me as a teenager demanded I embark on a course of rigorous self-examination and healing. It forced me to dig down to uncover deeper truths about myself and develop skills to handle and pursue what I unearthed.

It is clear to me that I never would have been capable of having the extraordinary marriage that I now enjoy and value so much if I hadn’t worked through a series of painful and unhealthy relationships first.

These events shaped me into someone who others began to approach, asking “how did you handle what happened to you, because I think I’m experiencing the same thing?” Clearly, my wounds had paved the way for the work I do today.

But I have to admit I still harbored grudges. I still felt it would have been better if certain things had gone differently in my life.

Then one day my teacher told me that a shaman he once worked with had said to him “If you are going to be a healer you have to go through multiple initiations and wounds because that’s what gives the healer power.”

Part of the job description is to meet people where they are, to connect to and have compassion for what they face. You don’t have to have experienced exactly what they’re going through, but you need enough of a variety of experiences to at least access a similar energy.

I don’t know why exactly, maybe it was the right thing at the right time, but I felt something shift inside me when I heard those words. Before, I had understood it intellectually. Now I got it.

This information rang true to me, but in order to fully embrace it I would have to surrender all my complaints. No longer could I judge events from the past as wrong, bad, undeserved, pointless, or mean. I was faced with the opportunity to offload all the grievances about my past and my identity as a victim of random, malevolent forces. As my teacher had said, “The spiritual path will rob you of your excuses and strip you of your illusions along the way.”

So now going forward I find myself regularly confronted with the chance to practice the point of view that nothing is going wrong, and the challenge to relinquish my habit of offering helpful suggestions to the Universe on all the ways that it could be doing a much better job.

Instead I try to improve the world by accepting my scars and focusing on gratefully sharing and expanding the gifts they have provided. Those “Universe improvement” ideas I collected got awfully heavy to carry around and I never did find the suggestion box.

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