To all of you who are feeling sad, angry, lost, scared, alone, or are in any other kind of emotional pain or suffering…
It gets better.
I know you’re probably very tired of hearing that. I know I was.
While you’re in the thick of your pain, life can seem hopeless; like the darkness will swallow you whole and you’ll never come back from where it takes you. Like no matter what you do or say, that nothing will lift this massive weight. It usually feels like you’re completely alone in it, (even when you’re super logical and know that there wouldn’t even be words for these feelings if no one had ever felt them before), and it’s almost impossible to imagine NOT feeling them anymore.
As powerful as those feelings can be, their strength does not make them true.
For those of you who are looking for ways to move past these emotional upheavals, I want you to know that you are very capable – because I was capable. I am human, just like you. We all have the capacity to shape our lives and our experiences however we choose!
I want to share with you some of the actions I have taken towards healing my heart. They have helped me remain hopeful that no matter how situations can effect my emotional state initially, I have the ability to weather them, and then to change how I feel about them.
1. Have Patience With Yourself
As much as you would like to just “get over it”, you haven’t. You’re in it. Right now. And you will be until you’re done.
Allow yourself acceptance; this is how you feel right now, and that’s okay! Sometimes we’re going to feel great, and sometimes we’re going to feel awful. That’s all part of the human experience.
Remember that you are designed for this; to interact with other humans, to experience every emotion on the spectrum, and to learn something from every moment of it.
When you feel something unpleasant or undesirable about a situation, that is most likely because the lesson you need to learn has not yet presented itself.
Be patient and gentle with yourself. What you need to know will come when you’re ready to find it.
2. Speak Your Truth
How many times have you run into someone randomly and when they ask ‘How are you?’, you (almost automatically) say ‘fine’ when really, you feel like your whole world is crumbling around you and you want to just cry your eyes out?
I used to think that “fake it ’til you make it” was a real thing. That dealing with emotions in this way would actually change how I feel. That maybe smiling and pretending everything was okay would somehow make everything okay.
I can tell you now, that approach – though common – fails miserably every time.
Let’s be clear; this doesn’t mean you should break into hysterical tears when your boss asks you how your day is going…
…But you should always be able to be your authentic self. If you feel sad, say you’re feeling sad. If you’re angry, say you’re angry! Often, being honest about how you feel will open the door to a deeper conversation where you might be able to connect with someone in a more meaningful way.
And if you’re not able or willing to talk about it with that person in that moment, it’s okay to say that too!
You’ll be amazed at the kindness people will show you in response to your authenticity.
3. Ask For Help – Personal OR Professional
If you’re reading this, you’re probably already looking for it.
Sometimes it’s near impossible to handle a major emotional shift alone. If the only voice you’re hearing is your own and you’re relying simply on what resources you already have, the chances of you continuing to struggle are pretty high.
We can learn new ways of coping by communicating our struggles with people we love and trust. Friends, partners and family are such a valuable resource for us! They have walked different paths than ours, and may see our situations and emotional reactions in objective ways that we cannot.
Sometimes, even after sharing with friends and hearing their advice given from the most loving of places, we still don’t feel “better”.
I’m a firm believer that everyone who is open to it, would benefit from professional counselling/therapy services. They are so much more common, affordable and accessible than they have ever been – there are even online counselling services! These wonderful people are in their line of work specifically to teach others the tools they need to be able to emotionally handle their human experience, and even to enjoy it!
It’s okay if you’re scared of telling a complete stranger what’s going on inside your heart, but I promise, you won’t regret it.
I know, I know. It might sound hokey to some of you. I used to feel that way about it too.
Mindfulness and meditation have actually taught me how to be truly present in my own emotions without letting them overpower me. Moments of extreme fear and doubt are transformed into moments of peace and acceptance when you are able to focus on the fact that in this moment, right now…you are alive, and you are okay.
When you finish reading… try this:
Sit comfortably – back straight – with your hands folded in your lap, and close your eyes.
Pay close attention to the feeling of your breath – breathing in, and breathing out. Feel the air passing through your nostrils; how cool it is when you breathe in, and how warm it is when you breathe out. Feel your chest and abdomen expanding and contracting.
Notice all the sensations happening in your body, not with judgement but with acknowledgement. My foot is itchy. My shoulders are tight. I am warm. Acknowledge them, and move on. Start at your feet and work your way up.
Let any other thoughts roll into and out of your mind like clouds; see them, and let them pass.
By the time you get to your head, I guarantee you’ll feel much more calm then you did before you started.
5. Write It Down, and Read It Later
Journaling, poetry, stories, blogs, or even a letter to someone (no, you don’t have to send it) are all great ways to express feelings that we’re not sure we’re ready to talk about yet.
All forms of writing are ways to instigate processing – moving emotions through our minds in a way that brings us closer to resolution. Reading something you have previously written, even if it was only yesterday, is a great way to view our own emotions from a more objective place.
The great part about writing for yourself, is that it can be whatever you want! It doesn’t have to be long, or grammatically correct, or even make sense! All that is required is for you to let the words come, and when you read them back, be open to the things you’re trying to tell yourself.
6. Get More Sleep
Sleep tends to become elusive in times of emotional distress. Which is incredibly ironic, considering how much more tired we can feel when we are struggling.
Whether you try to sleep but can’t because you can’t stop thinking about how awful you feel, or you’re up on purpose – avoiding your bed like the plague because you know the moment you lie down the deafening cacophony of your pain is the only sound you hear…
Commit to genuinely trying to get eight hours of sleep per night. If you find that night time is when your mind races the most, look for a natural sleep aid to help you relax. Melatonin, magnesium and calcium all help create the right body chemistry for a good night’s sleep. Foods that are rich in these things, or supplements, consumed a couple of hours before bedtime can be very helpful.
When our bodies and minds are well rested, we are more capable of objective thought, and less likely to fall apart when it’s inconvenient.
7. Soothe Your Soul – Do Things You Love
All things in moderation of course, but finding something you love to do can help you heal:
- Take a long walk in a sunny, tree-filled park
- Read a book
- Watch a funny movie
- Learn to crochet or knit
- Cook a delicious meal
- Play video games
- Go for coffee with a friend
- Get your hair done or get a spa treatment
When you spend some time doing things that make you feel good, you’ll find that you’re able to come back to your issues in a much calmer – and often more efficient – state of mind.
8. Take A Personal Day
Life is full of obligations; both the kind we place on ourselves and the kind we allow others to place on us. Part of healing includes taking space from these obligations when we are not capable of fulfilling them.
Western society (North American, in particular) has groomed us to be worker bees; toiling away to keep the machine of commercialism chugging forward, regardless of any cost to us. It’s easy to forget that your personal well being is important, in this way of life.
Remember that even if you love your work, self-care should take first priority. If you are not okay, then you won’t be able to provide the quality of work you want to provide, anyway!
Take the day off. Cancel lunch plans with your best friend. Skip the family dinner that everyone is expecting you to attend. People that value you and your wellness will understand, and appreciate that you are taking care of yourself.
I hope that my words have inspired you to look outside the darkness you feel bound by right now, to the light that is absolutely attainable!
Your pain does not define you. What you do with it, does.
Who we are as people is not comprised of the negative pieces of our lives, but of the positive. By the ways we’ve stood back up after being pushed down, risen after falling. By the way we’ve continued, and never given up.