Written by Marianna Jaross

I suspected I’d become a psychologist from an early age. However, the path to getting there — marked by adventure, different courses, writing internships and travel — was the convoluted, scenic, and healing path for me personally.

As I engaged in study and personal healing process, there was a part of my spirit that longed for something ‘more.’ Another key to my healing lay in experiencing the opposite of my past in real-time: Where there had once been restriction, pain, hurt, and grey-scale, I had to pivot towards comfort, possibility, hope, and colour.

For me, this occurred through travel and creativity.

I didn’t know then that travel and seeing new places can unlock different parts of us, and change us at a physiological level. When we are exposed to new places, people, food and tastes we become engaged, present, and curious. Our nervous system has a chance to recalibrate, and these new experiences can shift our body and wiring at a biological level.

I also think this occurs at a soul level.

Generally speaking, trauma and complex trauma can manifest as the following after-effects: Impacts on our nervous system, shame, fear of the world, negative self-talk, and challenges with relationships and connecting with others. It can make it hard to see possibility and avenues of hope.

This is what art, travel, and creativity can do: Remove us from painful environment(s), remind us of hope, and of the power of creation. We realise we are able to create anew despite what happened to us. This may occur in tiny changes only we can notice, eventually this will expand into our lives in significant ways.

Through these avenues, we can learn new ways to connect to ourselves, make new decisions, learn supportive behaviours, and rebuild our lives.

The following was healing for me personally: Delicious food I could eat without being rushed. Forming new connections. Learning to paint. Learning about new places and customs. Fumbling through a new language. Having my jaw drop at breathtaking artwork and architecture.

The feeling of awe — after incredible pain — shifted something deep within my soul and my biology.

There is possibility, even after pain.

No, you don’t need to go overseas or travel to heal a painful past; and I acknowledge how privileged I have been to access these experiences. However, the activities or places which inspire awe, curiosity, play and presence in you personally are likely going to be keys to your healing.


© Marianna Jaross 2024

Image credit: Unsplash

Note: This article originally appeared on Medium in 2024 and is independent of my professional association(s) and workplace(s). It also appears on mariannajaross.com.au.


Posted by Marianna Jaross
Marianna Jaross is a Melbourne-based psychologist, writer, former musician, and casual dancer.