In my last blog post, I spoke about "Safe Spaces of Sisterhood" and the need to keep our circles positive and supportive. When healing from within, it is wonderful to have a village to lean on during these times. Family and friends are instrumental in lifting us up and encouraging us through hard times but the ultimate responsibility of healing is ours. It is up to us to take control over our own emotional and mental well-being. Family and friends are wonderful, but they cannot heal for you. Healing is a choice that we must make daily. Sometimes, you have to be selfish. I don’t mean selfish in a negative way. When I speak of being selfish, I mean, there are times when you will have to make yourself a priority. That does not give you the right to be hurtful, or mean-spirited to others. What this means is that you recognize that things aren’t ok with you right now or that you need time to focus on some things that are important and you are committed to taking the necessary time to focus on that.
Open and honest communication with the ones you love is imperative while you heal. Your circle of family and friends care about you and want the best for you. It’s ok to let them know that you aren’t doing so great right now and need some time and maybe space to figure it all out. If they love you, they will understand and support you while you do the work necessary to feel and become better. They are your biggest cheerleaders and want you to succeed. That can be difficult for some, especially if you are someone who is used to “handling it all”. I definitely suffer from "Olivia Pope" syndrome. Last year I learned a very important lesson in healing without isolating the ones I love the most. During the latter part of the year, I was dealing with so much. I was emotionally and mentally overwhelmed and stressed. I was in a sad place very unhappy. I retreated, in the hopes of trying to get myself together, but in the process, I isolated myself from family and friends. I didn’t communicate. I shut down and put on the "I got it handled" mask. I was embarrassed and ashamed about where I was. I hate being “a downer” around people so I thought it was best to take a break to get myself together. I had good intentions, but I went about it the wrong way and I hurt people I care about unintentionally. My village loves and cares about me and I inadvertently treated them like I didn’t need them. Being selfish is a balance between making yourself a priority while maintaining a connection with those that love you.
Getting Real about it:
When you get real about what it is you are feeling, you acknowledge there is a wound. So many of us walk around in denial about what we feel. We deny our feelings in the effort to appear strong or unbreakable, when we are rotting and decaying emotionally inside. Once you see it for what it is, you can address it and release it. You can’t address and let go of what you refuse to acknowledge.
Stop playing the victim.
Bad things happen to good people all the time. In those moments, we feel like failures, “less than”, and hurt by people and situations in our lives. These experiences can be traumatic and emotionally defeating, but once we acknowledge what happened to us or what we are dealing with, we can begin to take back our control. Victim mentality is rooted in a loss of emotional control. We cannot change what happened to us but we can change how we allow it to affect and/or change who we are. This doesn’t happen overnight. I am not a fan of the phrase “get over it”. It’s dismissive and doesn't show empathy or compassion. Quite honestly, too many people "get over things" instead of "getting through things". In my experience, people who "get over" things carry more emotional and mental baggage than those who do the work to "get through" things. In any painful or hurtful event or situation, there is a period of grieving that occurs but it’s not a place you should stay in too long. You are allowed time to grieve a situation but wallowing in grief, self-loathing, and negative thinking only pushes you further into emotional darkness and eventually, you will wear it like a scarlet letter and the subsequent bitterness will consume you. Acknowledge the hurt, look at it, feel it, grieve it then switch the focus back where it belongs.
What do I want now?
It’s about you now. What do you want to do now? Do you want to move on? Act like it never happened? Heal and grow? Do you want to hate or remain angry? Do you want peace of mind or do you want revenge? Do you want to smile and feel joy again? Do you want to survive this? Is it time to make some changes? This is the space where you get to focus on you; not your pain, not the one who caused it, not your situations, BUT YOU! You decide if and how you want to heal. If you have experienced the loss of a job, it is the time to rediscover what it is you want and re-evaluate your goals and dreams. Maybe it’s time to start a business you’ve thought about? Maybe it’s time to go back to school? If you have experienced heartbreak or the loss of an important relationship, now is the time to figure out what you want from people you allow in your life. What did you allow in your previous relationship that you wouldn’t do again? What mistakes did you make? Sometimes it’s not what a person did to us but it’s what we allowed that is the greater question. If you are dealing with medical challenges, what do you choose to focus on? The diagnosis or the recovery? If you are going through a period of financial drought, will you give in to defeat or make a plan to be on solid ground financially? Will you begin to vision yourself out of debt and begin to make steps towards financial freedom? This time is about changing your mentality and focus. This moment is about what you want, need and desire. You get to define it and claim it. This process of putting the focus back on you, takes you right out of a victim mentality to a survivor mindset.
I can’t stress how important this is in the healing process. Self-care is self-love and no one can love you better than you. Learn to treat yourself with the utmost love, care and respect. Treat yourself to things that make your spirit smile. Spend time each day showing yourself the love you deserve. I practice daily self-care in many different ways. (See previous blog post) It allows me to function properly even when I feel broken because each day I do a little something for myself to remind myself of my value and my worth. Self care allows me to replenish what I give away to those I love daily.
You have acknowledged what happened, you have taken the necessary time to grieve it and give validation to your feelings, you have communicated what is going on with you to those you love, you have taken steps to take care of your emotional and mental health through daily practices of self care and taken the time to think about your needs, wants and desires; now it is time to put plans into action. I’m a firm believer in writing things down and speaking things into existence. I have a vision board, sticky notes, positive affirmations and quotes all around my room, my work space and even in my wallet. It’s important to write out your goals and look at them daily. They serve as reminders that you are moving forward. They may seem like small steps but they are forward moving steps. When my marriage ended, I literally started over from scratch. I didn’t have a job, bank account, or a car to my name. I literally wrote every single thing that I wanted to accomplish over the next year and checked them off my list one by one. It didn’t matter how small it was, every time I checked something off that list, I felt better about myself. I did something to celebrate my small victories each time. I felt like I was moving forward even if it was baby steps. It helped raise my self-confidence. It took me away from feeling like a victim to feeling like a conqueror and a survivor. It was a necessary part of my healing. Make a plan, set goals and do something every single day that puts you closer to achieving them and celebrate your progress no matter how small.
It is ok to make yourself a priority, especially when dealing with painful experiences. It is a necessary part of the process of “growing through it” instead of “going through it”. If you take the time to shift the focus from the experience and its aftereffects and redirect your energy back to yourself, in time, you will find clarity, happiness, peace and healing without the unnecessary and heavy emotional weights.
Take care of yourself and one another…
Thanks so much for reading! Please comment, share, subscribe and tell a friend! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Join me for my next reflection on Healing, “Fearlessness” coming soon. Subscribe to receive my new posts via email.