I believe there to be only two undeniable truths about life: it will not last forever and it will not be easy.
Perhaps the most profound realization that we as humans can make in order to successfully navigate this life is actually quite simple: We do not have all the answers.
And that’s okay.
In fact, it is necessary in order to realize that as this life continues to test us, our composition and our foundations, the source of our perseverance comes not from pretending to be able to coolly weather life but rather from realizing that others may be able to guide us through our storms. Life is beautiful. It is also hard.
The inherent dual nature of this experience leads us to only one promise: Along the way, we will be hurt. After we are hurt, we must heal. The journey is an arduous one full of change and discomfort, yet as with all things in life, the process is the most beautiful part.
I hope you share these keys with the ones who need it the most, as was done with me. These are the five steps you can’t skip if you’re hoping to heal.
1. Acknowledge You Are Hurt
Vulnerability is scary. The world can be a cruel place to those of us who have not developed the ability to shield ourselves from its assaults, and so the idea of disarming our hearts and minds seems counterintuitive. We live in societies that would seemingly rather us suffer in silence with poised faces than be honest with our expressions and transparent with our realities. We are taught to believe that strength is composure even when we are breaking, nonchalantly dismissing our weakness and eliminating the space for us to be what is ultimately human – sensitive. In our moments of hurt, we would rather say we are fine or okay than to be honest.
In order to heal, we must break these walls that imprison our hearts and minds and reopen the space for us to be vulnerable. Without acknowledging not only that we are hurt but also that it is okay to be hurt, we will never take the first steps in our path towards healing.
Forgive yourself first. Forgive yourself for everything you were taught you should be mad at yourself for – not being “strong” or “brave” enough to hide the pain, feeling like you need to depend on others to uplift you in those dark moments, being unsure of how you are going to make it through what comes next.
All of those sentiments are natural reactions to trauma. Feelings of weakness, hopelessness, sadness, and loneliness are all the signs that what you experienced is very real and merits your undivided attention. Not one human being is immune to these emotions, regardless of how strong their wall or how good their poker face. Forgive yourself for feeling these emotions, because you have no reason to be upset with yourself in the first place. You are divinely beautiful in all of your human fragility and you should embrace these moments as part of your acknowledgment of an experience that you deserve to have validated.
Then forgive anything and everything that hurt you.
We can never move forward as long as we hold onto what holds us back. We cannot carry our pain and trauma as trophies, and we cannot allow the energy those traumas bring into our lives to linger. As difficult as it may be, we must remind ourselves that even in those darkest experiences we can find some strength and purpose and we must take those lessons with us forward as we seek to rebuild our worlds and ourselves in the healthiest way. Be okay with the idea that we may have to forgive something or someone that does not seek our forgiveness – in the end, our forgiveness is a way to disempower their intent and empower us to rebuild better than we were.
3. Love And Be Loved
The most powerful force in the universe is love. It is equally as destructive as it is constructive, as frightening as it is beautiful, as overwhelming as it is serene, and that unique balance brings an unrivaled equilibrium to our existence.
When you are hurt, you must learn to love yourself. Loving yourself is a difficult process, because what that looks like is individual to you. However, the core steps you must take towards creating your self-love process are universal: re-shape your habits, take care of your physical body and mental health, and isolate yourself from all negative energy that deters you from existing in perfect harmony or in a completely loving mind state.
Create habits that look like everything you love, that allow you to continually enter a trance of elevated happiness to the point where your life revolves around more activities and behaviors centered on what you love than anything else.
Love your body and mind by treating them well – eating, exercising, sleeping, meditating, purifying and detoxing. Read the books you love, have the conversations that stimulate you, find the moments to stand still. Your body and mind will love you back. As I once read, there are millions of microscopic cells and organisms on and in your body whose sole purpose is to love you and help you be whole. Focus on them and they will repay you tenfold.
Do not allow in any energy that detracts from your peace, regardless of the form in which that manifests. Sometimes, that means releasing old friendships or distancing yourself from people or places. That is okay. You must be kind to yourself in the process and realize that it is in your best interest to equip yourself with the energy you need to sustain yourself on your journey. Realize that in doing so you do not owe any explanations or excuses. You are practicing how to love yourself, fully and wholeheartedly, with no abandon.
Allow others to love you. Allow them to shower you with love – with kind words and acts, with embraces and shows of affection. Receive this love unilaterally. Do not burden yourself with reciprocity to the point where you feel obliged to repay. Rather, replicate the love you are receiving when inclined to do so and when it is natural to your heart. You deserve to be loved the most fiercely in your weakest moments, and you should not be ashamed of allowing that love into your life.
4. Have Faith
Have faith that this storm will pass and the universe will guide you through this process. Have faith that at the end of it you will be stronger, happier and whole again. Moments are fleeting, and emotions are transient, so as you journey, you will see yourself transition out of your dark space. Have faith that you will heal.
I also encourage you to look deep into your heart and explore your relationship with the universe, with your existence here on this plane, however that may look. Challenge yourself on your perspectives relative to God and our purpose here, and try to find the link to our source. You might be surprised at what you find.
5. Be Alone
Perhaps the hardest part of healing is realizing that ultimately, you alone have to walk the path. As much as we need support and love throughout the healing process, we must be our own guides on the journey, making the decisions on where to veer and how fast to move forward. People can always tell you what their version of healing looks like, but only you can truly decide for yourself. Your traumas and experiences are unique to you, and no one can truly understand the depths to which they affect you. As a result, you must be the one to determine how you navigate.
Beyond being your own leader, you must give yourself the time and space to be alone without the interference of others, regardless of how good their intentions may be. When you allow others into your healing space, you inadvertently become mindful of them and everything attached to them – their thoughts, emotions, desires and needs. Do not forget that as you heal, you must prioritize yourself above all else without guilt or burden. You are not being selfish. You are healing and you deserve it.