At some point in life, we have all experienced some type of trauma or hardship. And how we overcome these experiences will vastly vary from person to person. For me, one of my most profound experiences with healing occurred several years back. I remember feeling like I was spiraling out of control; I didn't know up from down, nor did I recognize who I was as a person. My reality had shifted so much that I couldn't even identify my personal value system. In many ways, my healing journey felt like I was starting from scratch as a person. I hit a low in my depression, my will to survive was non-existent.
I will forever be grateful for the people that I had in my life at that time. They helped me to keep my pieces together and to make sense of the disordered experience I was going through. Through all the ups and downs of my healing and reflecting back, I found a few beneficial tools, these tools helped me to find a light that was present in every day, they helped me rediscover who I am and what matters most, and I was able to get really clear on my purpose. Ultimately, I was able to cultivate a deep sense of love for myself.
So if you are on your own healing journey, maybe these tools will be helpful for you as well. I wish you the best of luck as you continue discovering who you are and healing from past pain. It can be a really incredible journey to get in touch with your purpose and values, even if your outcome remains unclear. Trust that the Universe is working with you and that things will be better.
One of the first tools that I was the most resistant to was creating a gratitude journal. I was in such a negative place that nothing, and I mean nothing, seemed to matter, spark joy, or bear any light. At the urging of one of my girlfriends, I finally started a gratitude journal--after she gently nudged me at least twenty times. To begin, I had a few rules in place:
1) write down three things I was grateful for every night before bed
2) no repeats
3) continue every day for 30 days
To be honest, sometimes finding just one thing to be grateful was a challenge. On tough days, I had to dig deep and allowed myself to find gratitude for even the most basic of things, as an example: a warm bed to sleep in, food in the refrigerator, a friend that took time to have a conversation with me. It was these small acts of gratitude that helped me to realize that this life truly is worth living. At the end of the 30 days, it was amazing to see just how much I had to be grateful for. Being able to look back on my small collection of gratitude slowly began to shine a light in my life. I would encourage anybody who is feeling darkness and heaviness in their healing journey to create their own gratitude journal—finding light in the mundane and regular really helps to cultivate a life worth living.
After completing my 30-days of gratitude, I set out to begin caring for myself again. I was determined to find joy in the ordinary. One night, I made a list of 31 things that I could do for myself: to refill my cup, spark joy, and feel complete. Once that list with was created, I looked at it everyday morning while getting ready and chose one thing I could do that day just for me. My list of self-care included a broad range of activities from going to bed early, reading a book just for fun, to getting a pedicure, and included seeing a chick flick movie alone. All of the acts of self-care on my list were purely for me; it required extra thought and effort to produce a lengthy list of things I could do that was solely in the interest of enjoying myself. At the end of my self-care month, I began to realize just how little care I was giving myself. I realized that if I wasn't giving myself the care that I needed, how could I expect anybody else to care for me as well? This practice helped me develop a stronger sense of self-worth.
One of the last steps in my healing journey, and probably the most challenging was forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves for past transgressions is unimaginably hard; however, if we seek growth, it's a required step in our healing journeys. I began with a couple of books, I also spent a lot of time in meditation and reflection, and through this, I began to let go and heal. In addition to reading books and spending time in stillness: I carried out one-sided conversations with people who are no longer in my life, I wrote letters and burned them, and cried a lot. Looking back, the forgiveness portion of my journey centered on release. This last step helped me to shed the heaviness of carrying around transgressions, allowing room for something new to take root.
Regardless of where you are on your healing journey or the type of trauma you are recovering from, remember to be kind to yourself and take things one day at a time. We are all human. Healing is not a linear process, some days will be better than others. Continue to show up and create the life you deserve. The journey continues but it gets easier.
With deep love,