Often the simplest questions are the most difficult to answer. This innocent-looking question by my spiritual teacher GD stuck with me through a difficult phase in my life. And unlike what it sounds, he wasn’t offering to dress up my emotional wounds and soothe me with feel-good platitudes. He was offering me a choice: ‘do you want another band-aid or do you want to heal the wound?’
I don’t recall the exact conversation but I cannot forget the essence. GD was discussing with a bunch of us how we use jobs and relationships like band-aids to cover our wounds, and how our entire struggle in life is to keep them intact. Beneath clinging to an unfulfilling job, he was explaining, was often the fear of facing a deep-rooted sense of uselessness. Couples cling to unhappy relationships and marriages to avoid loneliness. Some become chronic people-pleasers to avoid the fear of abandonment. Others take up social service with a vengeance to not face their own issues…
It was intriguing and even a bit scary to consider my life through this lens. In normal life, I think I do a pretty good job of keeping all this hidden behind a wall of busyness. And like me, I guess for most people these wounds are exposed only one is either forced to be alone for some time, or when some situation opens the wound with a ripping sound – like being fired or dumped. And when one is at the crossroads, where the uncertainty and sense of being lost (which was temporarily covered up by the job or relationship) comes to the surface again. Like I was at that point.
The joke, GD continued, is that even in the best of times, these band-aids do not work. No amount of money helps a person with a core wound of worthlessness feel rich inside. If a woman believes she is ugly or fat, she just won’t believe any external compliment about her beauty. And the terror of losing these band-aids often runs our life. We believe that the only solution is to hold the band-aid tighter – keep the job or the relationship at any cost – to avoid surfacing this wound. But why not face it and move towards real healing and wholeness?
And if you still want to put on a new band-aid, GD said, then just acknowledge it consciously as your choice. Acknowledging the band-aid as your choice empowers you at some level. But your soul or higher self knows that you are free and infinite, and it will keep creating situations for you where this question will reappear: do you still want another band-aid?