After going through a heartbreak or traumatic experience, we sometimes feel like there’s a time limit on our healing process. Depending on what the situation is, it can take anywhere from months to years to feel truly healed. One of the most difficult aspects of healing is accepting not only what occurred, but the amount of time it is going to take to feel lighter and happier again. In today’s society, we are taught to roughen our edges and thicken our skin in the face of adversity; and while that is vital to survival, it’s also important to remember that you are a human being with real emotions that needs time to feel and heal in order to develop a better relationship with yourself. Brushing any type of negative emotion under the rug only prolongs healing. Negating these emotions also accumulates resentment and harbors anger that will eventually resurface when you’ve put in that last quarter into an already overflowing emotional piggy bank. Becoming attuned to your emotions and understanding them is the first and foremost step towards the healing process.
The next step is accepting them. This is the part that stings, yet is simultaneously freeing. Once you accept that life-changing event that hurt you deeply, you will open doors to a new chapter and healthier methods of addressing what happened. When we resist reality, and ruminate over what could have been done differently, or keep questioning, “why was I dealt this hand?” we are only harming ourselves by taking our minds down a never-ending loop of misery. Self-reflection and evaluating a situation from all angles plays an important, dynamic role in understanding a painful event and preventing it from happening again; but too much ruminating can really have a severe, negative impact on your psyche, and in turn, can develop a series of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and paranoia.
When it gets to the point of not gaining value from ruminating, it becomes harmful and a waste of time. The answer is quite simple. Replace your negative thoughts with ones that are going to help you reach your goals and move you forward. It’s pretty straightforward, it’s just not easy and it takes a lot of practice and self-discipline.
In a book called The Depression Cure, Dr. Stephen S. Ilardi talks about a student of his who followed his Therapeutic Lifestyle Change, a six-step natural program that helps people come of out their depression through healthy, active practices. The student didn’t understand why her depression wasn’t improving after applying the TLC program into her life. She then admitted that one of her biggest habits was spending a copious amount of time ruminating. After the student was able to truly commit to replacing her negative thoughts with healthier ones, her depression cleared up within a few weeks. Now everyone is wired differently so it may take longer for others, but it definitely must be done if you want to heal and move forward quicker. One way to help catch yourself ruminating is becoming aware of when you’re doing it and writing it down so you can actually have a visual of how many times a day you’re thinking about unhealthy thoughts. Once you become aware, try only giving yourself five to ten minutes at the max of ruminating of whatever it is that’s hurting you. I know that sounds tough when it’s so easy for your thoughts to wander, but really try committing to it and give your mind a chance to condition itself in thinking more positive.
When you’re in the midst of a painful situation, isolation tends to be something we revert to. It’s difficult to be around other people when you feel like there’s a dagger severing your insides, trust me, I know the feeling, but you have to push yourself to get out there. Isolation can lead to rumination, which again, goes back to depression and anxiety, so please remind yourself that you are capable of overcoming this feeling. YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU REALIZE RIGHT NOW.
Join a workout class or an organization that interests you. Find something that’s going to be able to keep you interested and engaged enough to combat toxic thoughts. If you like giving back to the community and making a difference in people’s lives, volunteering for a local non-profit organization is also a great way to lift your spirits. Helping others and making people happy can give you a great feeling of gratification and can put things into perspective by showing you how everyone has life issues, and some worse than others. There’s evidence showing that doing good deeds for others has positive psychological effects by reducing stress and getting rid of negative emotions. It’s also a great way to help get your mind off of things. It’s a win, win situation. You’re helping someone while it’s also providing a form of therapy for you.
It’s also important to just be yourself in this process. Stand next to your beliefs and don’t try to put off this false persona that you think might make you more appealing to someone; especially if you’re healing from a breakup. If you feel like you need support and someone to talk to throughout the day, call someone you trust and let it out. If you feel like going out and grabbing a triple meat cheeseburger, go for it. If you feel like wearing a sweater with a cat riding a unicorn that has rainbows shooting out of its butt, wear it! Who cares! Just be yourself and free your mind from the confinements of displaying this false image as a temporary crutch. When you are comfortable in your own skin and are just yourself, you have more energy to put towards truly healing instead of expending it on creating something that you’re not. There’s nothing more attractive and beautiful than not being afraid to show your scars. They built you up into the strong person that you are today and don’t ever be ashamed or scared of that. BE PROUD!
While the healing process is heart-wrenching, use it to mold you into something that’s going to catapult you into something you’ve always wanted to do. Whether it be chasing after your dream job or traveling to that place you’ve only seen in pictures, channel those emotions into working on becoming the person you’ve always wanted to become. And never forget that this is not your end; there is so much life ahead of you and kindred spirits you haven’t met yet. Just know that this will take time, but once you accept that, everything else will naturally fall into place and you’ll look back with a lighter heart and a wiser mind.