Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls your life – Akshay Dubey
In recent times I have been considering what it really means to heal emotionally when feeling hurt or suffering with feelings of distress. Of course, over the years I have been confronted with painful situations and overcome them- but was I actually healing, or simply ‘getting over it’? It feels like an impossible task, especially when the emotions are running high, and everything feels heavy on the mind and the heart- it kind of feels like a yo-yo; there are up moments, but there are down moments too. Whatever it is that causes you to enter the grounds of emotional distress is accompanied by so many feelings, that it is no wonder people struggle to get to grips with what they need to do in order to feel better. We feel overwhelming sadness, anxiety, a constant change in mood- we might even start to self-sabotage by displaying behaviours that we know are harmful to our body and mind, but we can’t stop doing it…When we are in emotional turmoil, it has such a knock-on effect to our bodies as a whole: physically and mentally. It can be quite a challenge to take control of it and enter the healing process.
To be able to emotionally heal we must have the ability to acknowledge and recognise the circumstances or situations within our lives that may hinder us and thus, prevent us from moving forward with life. Emotional healing is a process that we go through to allow us to take control of our feelings and emotions- although it is important to note that this can differ from person to person. We all have the capability to heal what is hurting us on the inside- but in order to do so, one must acknowledge exactly what it is that is hurting us in order to heal, and face it head on. It starts with validating your emotions but not allowing them to completely rule your life. It is perfectly acceptable to admit that you are hurting and go through the motions- in fact it is important that you do this, bottling up how you feel will only cause damage later down the line. It is about finding that balance between feeling what you feel, but not allowing it to completely consume you and impact other aspects of your life. Too many of us have this idea in our heads that pretending we are OK is the best way to get over things, but ultimately this only worsens the feeling. Behind closed doors we are not coping and probably in the mist of dark corners of our own minds, but to others, we are acting that we are fine, and keeping up an act is difficult and draining. If we flip the coin, some of us go the opposite way- by being totally and completely consumed by something, to the point that it is the only thing on our minds, and we spend every second of every day, obsessing about it, because we feel that we need to be emotional to get over it. The term ‘drowning our sorrows‘ may resonate with many of us. I suppose either way, it acts as a defence mechanism, but there is a very fine line between feeling emotional and feeling consumed by emotion- it is essential to recognise how you usually manage emotional turmoil so that you can start to make changes to the actions you display in times of emotional distress.
As human beings, we are solely responsible for our actions. However, some do act on impulse when in turmoil, and therefore start behaving in ways that have not been given enough thought, including the potential outcome of those behaviours. This comes down to irrational thinking and acting on raw emotion- something that may change in the space of hours or days. When people say things like: ‘sleep on it before you act’, this is because of this very reason. When you are emotional, you may do things or say things that are totally out of your character, and it is a crucial part of your own personal development to have the ability to think before you act on your emotions. The way you feel today, might not be how you feel tomorrow- when you understand this, not only are you recognising how you feel, but you are also taking control of those feelings and controlling your reactions. So let me illustrate this with a couple of examples: sending a text message in the heat of the moment because you desperately feel that you need to get something off your chest… I think many of us can think of a time where we have done this. I know that I certainly have- but who does it impact? More often than not, the person you are texting is the person that has hurt you, and essentially, it will never achieve anything and two days down the line, you may feel entirely different and therefore totally regret sending that emotionally fuelled text. Another example to digest: before you jump into your ‘rebound’ relationship- think very carefully. Ask yourself the following questions: is this behaviour going to negatively impact the person you are rebounding to? (Remember, just because you feel emotionally distressed, does not give you the right to disrupt somebody else’s emotions) and, is this behaviour truly essential for your own healing? Whatever the impulsive behaviour may be, think before you speak and think before you act. The impact can be detrimental to your healing, and toxic, erratic behaviours tend to fester, and may also bring a whole new dimension of emotions in addition to what you are already feeling… It can feel overwhelming, and hard to distinguish what your next steps need to be when you do not stop to consider what you are doing.
Another mistake we make all too often is getting stuck in the past, and it makes perfect sense as to why we do this. Being stuck in the past, allows us to hold on to moments where we felt happy, safe and validated- but sadly, it is a false sense of security. Again, it is another defence mechanism that attempts to mask the emotions that we have… If we continue to remember how we felt before, then surely we will feel better eventually? The answer, pure and simple, is no, it does not and will not help you to feel better. From my own experiences, it is so easily done, but you are just fooling yourself at this point and prolonging the process. Being stuck in the past is never going to allow you to move forward, it is never going to allow you to actually confront the issue, which prevents you from healing. Let go of the past and focus on the present moment and face the feelings- the past will not give you the answers to your healing, but it will do a great job in holding you back if you keep taking trips down memory lane. The past is in the past, and the future will depend on how you deal with your emotions in the present moment… Deal with it head on, accept it for what it is, and you will find it a whole lot easier to move forward.
One word that everybody should attempt to understand and begin to practice in life is forgiveness. I think we are guilty at some point in our lives of going through the motions of holding onto situations that have hurt us, with that intention there that we will never be able to forgive somebody for their actions towards us. It is a totally normal emotion to feel, it is a form of personal protection from another person, choosing to keep somebody at arm’s length, but in the long run, holding onto what they have done only festers and you begin to internalise negative feelings. Practicing forgiveness is something that must come from yourself, it is something that you can be forced to do, you must want to do it and it will be a conscious decision that you make within yourself. It may not be something you can do straight away, but once you feel that you can forgive the actions of another, is a tell sign that actually, you are moving forward and moving past what has hurt you. It will allow you to let go of what has caused the pain and distress- this is not to say you will forget the actions, and therefore condone the behaviour, because you shouldn’t- but it will not haunt you and keep you in the past. Many people feel that if they forgive somebody for their bad behaviour or actions, that it is showing weakness, which is why so many people will hold the grudge as an alternative. Forgiveness is really not about whether the person actually deserves your forgiveness, it is about freeing yourself and giving you peace within your own mind. You will feel so much more empowered when you are able to understand and practice forgiveness, because you are recognising what has hurt you, but you are not allowing this pain to define you or how you proceed forward with your life.
Emotional healing is so important to our lives. As human beings we are so loaded with emotions, whether we are expressive individuals or not, they exist within us. Burying feelings and not being honest with how we actually feel, in the long run, causes a lot of damage- not just for ourselves, but for other around us. Similarly, allowing yourself to be totally consumed by something, and consciously not wanting to deal with that, will bring the healing process to a complete stop and prevent you from moving forward. When we fail to be honest with ourselves, and we fail to address things within our lives that need to be addressed, it keeps us tied to the past and we will struggle to truly move on. If we have not spent time healing what has hurt us on the inside and dealing with what has hurt our feelings and our emotions, then whatever the future holds for us is likely to be tainted by what is in the past. As lengthy the process, as difficult as it may be to confront uncomfortable or negative feelings, it is absolutely a process that we should actively work on when we are faced with emotional turmoil, and it is a process that is essential if you do not want to be a prisoner of your past. Learning to accept situations is learning to let go, it is not an easy thing to do, but emotional healing is an integral key to living life with peace within our own minds and hearts.