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Healing 101: The Process that Lasts a Lifetime

There was once a time when I regarded my emotional healing as a series of boxes to check off a list. I believed that healing from any mental/emotional pain was a one-time test. I thought I could overcome anything if I healed within the time frame I set for myself.

But when the pain lasted longer than I anticipated, I felt confused at the emotional weight I had to carry once more. If you asked a younger, less evolved Sydney about the process of healing, I would probably tell you that:

  1. You have to experience trauma.

  2. You have to decide how long you’ll let yourself sulk.

  3. After your sulking time is up, move on--and try not to backtrack.

I soon realized that healing from mental/emotional pain does not compare to checking off boxes from a list. I found that the failed three-part process listed above treated healing as a destination instead of the beautiful soul process it is.

The openness of dealing with emotional pain through social media has taught me that I am not alone in believing the myths of healing being a destination. Fortunately, there is a growing tolerance for people focusing on their pain, letting me know we are progressing.

I believe we can find solace in knowing that healing is the process that lasts a lifetime. When we accept this truth for all the hope it holds, we’ll become accountable people who can engage in the fullness of our healing journeys.

Healing is Self Compassion

I’ve thought a lot about what healing wounds from the past truly means for me. In my consideration, I discovered a lack of self-compassion that inhibited me from moving past personal hardships. A major block in the road of my emotional healing was the aching pain of comparison.

I feared the emotional pain I experienced could not compare to others since I’ve never experienced a traumatic, life-altering event myself. I felt that the majority of my pain simply did not matter. I convinced myself, over and over again, that there was someone out there who had experienced more unfortunate things than me--so, who was I to commit myself to healing?

“...redefine your healing and nurture yourself to an entirely new understanding of who you are.”

This inability to show self-compassion caused more emotional pain than I was willing to admit to myself. When I learned that I got to choose what to heal from, I accepted that all pain is valid. Whether an emotional pain is too big or small is relative to you and only you because this is your life--so, this is your healing journey.

Compassion--something we so readily show unto others--can become a foreign practice for ourselves. This was the case for me, so I began making space for myself the way I had for others. The compassion I show myself involves:

>Assessing my emotions without critique

>Being patient with myself when I repeat mistakes

>Honoring the things that make me unique

>Expressing gratitude for taking mindful moments

By practicing self-compassion, you can redefine your healing and nurture yourself to an entirely new understanding of who you are. In what ways do you show yourself compassion?

Healing is Honesty

Healing begins and ends with the amount of honesty you’re willing to let into your life. Admittedly, there have been times when I was dishonest with myself and others about things that affected me out of fear that I’d appear weak or bothered.

The dissolve of a long-term friendship. The confusion and sudden loneliness that came with post-grad life. These were some of the emotionally painful events I was hesitant to express aloud. It was easier to have a tough skin that said “I’m unbothered” than a cape of vulnerability that said, “I’m hurting.” However, I realized that being honest with myself would have allowed me to work through my pain consciously.

“Honesty has been the strongest bridge between who I thought I was and who I truly am.”

Showing up for ourselves. It’s a phrase that gets tossed around often, but I had to learn what it meant for me. In dealing with my emotional pain, I found that honesty was a driving force in how I showed up for myself.

Being honest with myself means that I have a clear recollection of past hurt and how it affects my life. Dealing with the past can be disheartening, at least it has been for me. I’ve been afraid to dredge up the past because I felt I had no right to it--I thought life was all about the present and accepting the past for what it was.

But I owe the past my attention so that my present can be more meaningful. In my experience, beginning your healing journey with honesty opens the floodgates of opportunity for a deeper connection to self. Honesty has been the strongest bridge between who I thought I was and who I truly am. It’s grounded me with an appreciation for every pain experienced because, ultimately, they’ve brought me closer to me.

Healing is Forgiveness

Healing is a decision to love ourselves in our darkest moments, which we must not regret. I became self-critical and judgmental about how I could not get past a specific emotional pain in my darkest moments. Healing involves permitting yourself to start over and over again at a goal.

That goal can be having the mental strength to get out of bed each day and go to work. It can be having a difficult conversation with someone who’s hurt you. We must understand that sometimes outside forces beyond our control affect our track in life, so we shouldn’t blame ourselves for falling off this track.

"...a new sense of gratitude for who you've grown to be despite the emotional pain."

I wrestled with the blame game myself many times throughout life. Blaming myself was my greatest undoing. I blamed myself because I never wanted to seem like a victim if I blamed others for the hurt. But the name of the game is accountability, and I had to learn just how different it is from blaming myself or others.

Sometimes the right people rise to the occasion and take accountability for the harm done in your life, and sometimes they do not. There are whispers of the heart that we are not always fortunate to hear from the people who have wronged us, but our healing must carry on.

If we fail to do so, we become slaves to a waiting game that inhibits our progression. I have had to forgive people who’ve never apologized because I realized that people can only meet you as deeply as they’ve met themselves. This realization can evoke grief, and it has for me, but it can also spark a new sense of gratitude for who you’ve grown to be despite the emotional pain.

Healing allows us to use our lessons in self-compassion, honesty, and forgiveness to shape who we are despite the pain. Self-compassion urges us to be kind to ourselves while we journey deep into the pains that linger in our lives.

Honesty holds us and others accountable as we remember the essence of who we are. Forgiveness frees us from the emotional ties of those who’ve wronged us while we gain a sense of gratitude for our renewed selves.

I found that my emotional healing transcends the boxes I once thought I could check off. Practicing self-compassion, honesty, and forgiveness allowed me to accept healing as a soul process instead of a destination. I allowed myself to be fully engaged in my journey because I understood that healing was the process that lasts a lifetime.

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