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Each of us handle hardships and loss in our own unique way.
That way is an amalgam of our values, beliefs, personality traits, past experiences, fears, wants, and needs.
Some people run away, looking for any means to escape their confusion and upset, pain and suffering.
Denial or feigned indifference leads them to suppress their emotions, their smile exaggerated and their laughter loud. Their positive spirit leans toward the extreme, as if there is nothing wrong at all. This can be temporary or permanent, a life filled with escapes used as coping mechanisms to quell emotions. They may live large, overcompensate, and avoid any opportunity to be alone with their feelings for the fear this would debilitate them.
Others dive right into their thoughts, feelings, and emotions until they find themselves drowning in misery. They rehash, dwell, and obsess. They can’t stop asking themselves why, wondering if they could have handled things differently or continually beat themselves up for every mistake they made. They can’t let go. They shut themselves off and isolate, going through the motions of life because they need to, while numb to any feelings or emotions whatsoever. Eventually, they move forward, but never move on, because they are stuck in an emotional state that they cannot free themselves of. They are tied to their pain and suffering.
I was reminded of this today, as I endure a heavy situation that has weighed me down for quite some time. And over the course of my life, I’ve handled matters both ways—through denial and escape, and through isolation and withdrawal.
What lessons I’ve learned as I continue to live, love, succeed, fail, and evolve. Today, I’m honest with myself and others. Even when I hurt, I trust that the pain is temporary, even if the grief is chronic. We can live fully with chronic conditions—including heartache and loss. And wallowing in the pain is not healthy. Sometimes the best remedy is getting busy and getting on. It can quiet the mind and soothe the soul.
When we face matters head-on, acknowledging the pain and allowing the sorrow and sadness to flow through us, we allow ourselves the opportunity to grow. When we are honest with ourselves and willing to look at our shortcomings, flaws, and mistakes, we allow ourselves the opportunity to learn. And when we realize that we cannot control the outcome of a situation, but we can control how we react to it, we allow ourselves the opportunity to heal.
Life is not easy. It is filled with ups and downs, starts and stops. There is much happiness to be sought and much sorrow to endure.
We owe it to ourselves to acknowledge our feelings. We can get mad, be sad, and feel confused. Yet we need to set a limit on it. Not a limit by means of a particular date or time, but a limit by means of carrying on while processing our emotions.
Grieving is a part of life, but it doesn’t need to be a way of life. You owe it to yourself to recognize the difference. Grief ebbs and flows, some days we carry it more easily than others, yet it never goes away, which is why we cannot set a date or time. Healing happens in its own due time, but only when you take that step forward.
No matter how heavy you may feel today, there will come a tomorrow when you realize that you’re smiling, laughing, and living again. There may be moments of sorrow, but there will also be bittersweet smiles and meaningful memories.
Know when to say when then pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and take the steps necessary to re-engage in your life.
Three tips to help you start living again:
Learn to catch yourself in the act when you start overthinking, obsessing, or dwelling. When you recognize that happening, check yourself and reframe. What good does overthinking what was said or done do? What good does it do to obsess over every word that was said or every action that was taken? What good does dwelling do? If you can change it, change it. But do yourself a favor and make sure that you are accepting the things that you can’t change. Send your mind on a nice vacation. Free it up to quiet and calm. Your answers will most likely come to you when you stop obsessing. Only then will you see things more clearly.
It’s tough to obsess when you are busy. I’m not talking about a false busy to suppress what you’re feeling, but a legitimate busy that gets you moving and reminds you that there is a lot more to life than one relationship, one situation, or one hardship. Take a walk and engage with nature. Read a book and lose yourself in a fictitious plot. Learn something new and find an unexpected hobby.
Forgive others and forgive yourself.
If your pain and suffering centers around a tumultuous or unsuccessful relationship, forgive. Forgive that person or people for their shortcomings and forgive yourself for yours. Forgiving doesn’t mean you forget. Forgiving doesn’t mean you’re not hurt or angry. Forgiving can be a means for you to regain your personal strength in what feels like a powerless situation. It stops you from thinking you can change people, reason with them, or change the ending. This doesn’t mean that you must continue to be involved with them in some capacity, but it does mean that you may be freeing yourself up, enabling you to let go. Your love can be unconditional, but the relationship doesn’t have to be.