Three Ways to Heal From a Resurfacing Past
Healing doesn’t start or end when you step away from a painful situation physically. It is a continual process of daily walking away from pain and lies to something better. Some days are harder than others as reminders surface. That could be a time of year, particular smell, place, event, or person. Regardless of what is being used to push your buttons and spiral you out here's some advice for how not just get through the hard days but conquer them completely. The more you put them into practice, the more your nature will change and these will just be your default.
1) Ground yourself in truth and push through.
This tip is not about ignoring your feelings and very real struggle. This is about having courage despite it. You do that by grounding yourself physically or mentally and coming up with a plan before you end up in a situation that's overwhelming you. Think through what triggers or what could trigger you and come up with a game plan that included how to ground yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally (thoughts).
For me, I found that when I was physically dissociating it helped for me to sit on the floor with my back against a wall and hold ice. I would choose to focus on the melting ice in my hands, how the ground felt, the texture of the wall on my back until it passed and I regained control. When I feel anxiety rising, I go on a run or make changes to my diet. For mental things like negative self-talk, that voice that won't just go away, or whatever it is, find some truths and memorize them. I promise in those moments they will come to mind. Those truths could be facts like, "I am an adult capable of protecting myself, speaking up for myself, and I am safe." Or they could be inspiring quotes and scripture.
To get to the point where those truths become a second nature, you may have to set reminders with those truths to pop up on your phone. Write them on your bathroom shower, mirror, or wherever you need the reminder. There have been seasons of my life that you could find a sticky note with a truth on it nearly everywhere. I would write things on my shower wall and recite it while I washed my hair. It doesn't happen overnight, but every moment you choose another way your past is staying where it should be, the past.
2) Learn to be positively content.
This isn't about being grateful, as it is letting go of everything the world has taught you up until this point and hoping for the best. Aka, become an optimist and positive believer. You don't have to think positively to think of others and the world in a hopeful manner. If you tend to be more of a negative thinker, that's ok! Just don't plant yourself there. When someone makes a comment or does something, instead of mentally spiraling out into what a jerk they are, think about what maybe happened in their day/life to be that way. Use that tone or have that outlook/perspective.
This will give you a more compassionate demeanor toward them and those vibes are felt. You know what I'm talking about. All of us have experienced a person who we feel does not like us, for what seems like no reason. There's no action's that prove that, but it's felt, and when you are around them it's uncomfortable. I have found that when dealing with people who rub me the wrong way that when my thoughts about them become kinder they become kinder to me. It's felt. Who knows, you may be able to influence them someday into real life change.
3) Flip the script.
What this means is, to act in a way people don't expect. When that family member who just doesn't get it makes a snarky pass at you, they expect to upset you. They are prepared for you to fire back or whatever your normal reaction is. Do what they don't expect. Laugh at their insensitive joke. Brush it off. Be kind and ask about their life. Doing this will take them off guard and set them back mentally. That mental set back is sometimes the space they need to see the margin between who you are and who they think you are. Reality is, you are both misunderstood. Doing both two and three will help tremendously in understanding others and being more understood.
My hope is for this advice to bring more peace to your life. Whether it's a day to day problem or more so event-oriented, these principles are what helped me get to where I am today. I too have had seasons where under my breath I was telling myself "you are safe" for days on end. I have been at professional things and had to ask someone to get me ice to hold. It might feel embarrassing at first, but it's actually empowering. You are taking control back, on step at a time. Just like with anything else, with practice, it becomes easier.
Lexie Smith is a graduate and guest trainer of Elevate. She received a BA in Psychology from Lee University and currently resides in Nashville, TN as an active member of The Belonging Co. Church and Marketing Coordinator at Dave Ramsey Solutions.