Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.
~Dr. Robert Schuller
They say there’s a silver lining to every dark cloud. They say there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. They say that rain doesn’t last always and the sun will shine again. They say pain and sorrow we endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. But what does one do, when your dark cloud or dark tunnel seems to be never ending? If you take your 2 hands, squeeze someone’s neck, and never let go – what happens? They will choke to death and die. What about when trauma, pain, and darkness grabs you firmly around the neck and never let go? You feel like you’re barely breathing (figuratively) and can barely keep your forehead above water. If your head is as big as mine, it makes it even harder.
People who know me, know I’ve been through a lot these last few years…. 4 ½ years (and counting) to be exact. There’s a very small few, outside of my therapist, who know the full details and totality of everything. This is not what this article is about. One reason is because I’m tired of talking about my pain and trauma. Another reason is that I want to focus on the healing that I haven’t fully accomplished, but believe that I am in the beginning phases of. However, let me give you a little context.
Over the last 4 ½ years (and counting) I have gone through a plethora of traumatic and negative things that have affected me mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually, and professionally. These things occurred one after the other, and sometimes multiple things at once with. At no point during this period have I had a break. Overwhelmed, broken, damaged are three of my favorite words to described myself as a result of all of this. Yet, those 3 words are still understatements.
Recalibrating my mind is and has been very important. I truly believe that one’s mentality is half the battle. Reading, watching sermons of specific preachers, praying, being careful with the content I listen to and watch, and therapy…are some of the activities I have utilized to feed myself positively emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It’s not an overnight process and it dang sure ain’t a short process either.
There’s no guarantee that there won’t be negative things that still occur. More than likely, one will stumble over a few hurdles before you start to see some progression. If you don’t feel like giving up more than once, then you’re probably not on the right path. The more you progress the more things will be thrown your way. I feel that it is a test to see just how much we’ve actually progressed.
Along this journey of healing that I’m still on, there are 5 key things that I’ve learned.
1. Patience will be your best friend. If you struggle in this area, like I do, it will be in your best interest to improve in this area. Hurt, pain, and trauma takes seconds to occur but extended amount of time to fix/heal.
2. Do not expect folks to be there for you at the same level in which you was there for them. Some people only care how you’re doing, just enough to make sure you’re still able to be there for them. Some won’t care or understand. There will be a select few that will meet your need. Let them be your priority.
3. A lot of aspects of this journey, you will have to do alone. Get ready and be ok with that.
4. Make yourself the priority. Let me say that again…MAKE YOURSELF THE PRIORITY! You will need to be intentional, fully aware, and at times selfish. Selfish with your peace, selfish with your healing, and selfish with your space. If you have to force a smile, don’t go or don’t do it. If certain relationships are not feeding you positively; you will need to remove them from your life, keep them at a distance, or put them on pause…weigh their importance in order to know what category to put them in.
5. Own and embrace accountability. Own and embrace your trauma, pain, and mistakes. Let them fuel your purpose. This will cause people to fail when they try to weaponize these things against you. Learn the lesson, give yourself grace, and leave it in the past.
Diversus Health, an organization providing a variety of therapeutic services, states:
We can look inward and ask ourselves questions that aim toward healing our emotional wounds. We can seek support from friends, family, mental health professionals, and others within our community who can help us find the path toward healing. When we surround ourselves with people who support our journey, they can offer new insights and tools to help us lead a happier and more fulfilled life.
Oprah Winfrey, one of my aunties in my head LOL, provides 11 ways to help you find peace, joy, and happiness. Those ways are:
Feel the truth that you are safe and loved
Visualize your happy place
Read the story you are telling yourself - If you find yourself spiraling over a perceived disappointment, frustration, or panic-inducing thought, try stepping back to assess whether what your brain is telling you is true.
Act your way to deeper self-compassion
Make a “joy list” for when you need it later – list the things that bring you joy
Cultivate gratitude for the things that are happening (and not happening)
Ask yourself 2 questions daily (what did you enjoy today? And what are you grateful for today?)
Serve others to help yourself, too
Maintain good self-care hygiene
Practice acceptance – “Acceptance is an overall way of engaging with life. It’s less about a quick practice, and more about a life orientation.”
Peace of mind doesn’t require peace and quiet – “There's this assumption that if you're in a quiet place, it will be more conducive to accessing this spot within. But, in fact, there are people who have panic attacks while they’re on a massage table. You could be on a New York city subway, surrounded by people and noise, and close your eyes to go into this space where your calmness resides.”
Do not compare your journey of peace and healing to anyone else. No two people will have the same journey. There may be some aspects of the journey that’s forever, because life is always changing and throwing things at us…good, bad, or indifferent. Any form of healing and progression, anyone would want this to be sustained. No one wants to have to learn the same lesson twice. If you don’t learn the necessary lesson(s) the first time, certain things will keep happening until you do. Is there a way to gauge the progression, the healing, and the internalizing of it?
Theodora Blanchfield, an associate marriage and family therapist, has provided 8 questions one can ask themselves in regards to their healing.
How is not healing affecting your life?
What do you want your life to look like after you’ve healed?
If you woke tomorrow, how would you know you had healed?
Are you ready to heal?
Are you willing to sit through some discomfort in service of healing?
What will help you on your emotional healing journey?
How has not yet healing served you?
What can you do to make your healing journey gentle for yourself?
“Believe in rainbows, no matter how fierce the storm.”
“Positive thoughts are not enough. There have to be positive feelings and positive actions.”
~Kamari Aka Lyrikal