If you got a chance to look at the article I published this past Monday, “On Healing and Embracing Negative Emotions,” you read about the importance of allowing ourselves to authentically feel the emotions that have traditionally been viewed as “negative,” such as sadness, anger, grief, and resentment—particularly when embarking on a journey of healing. By doing so, we are able to move through our difficult feelings rather than away from them, and ultimately, we return to a place of joy and wholeness.
This is an instrumental part of the healing process, especially when we are looking to completely rid ourselves of whatever insecurities or unhealthy habits may be lingering within us. For example, let’s say our father abandoned our family when we were twelve years old. It’s possible that, since then, we may have developed insecurities about betrayal or abandonment, which—no matter how subtle—can reveal themselves in a variety of other relationships. In this case, rather than trying to ignore those feelings, it’s important to allow ourselves to take a raw look at them for a period of time in order to be able to move through them to a place of acceptance and security.
Allowing ourselves to experience and move through the difficult feelings is so important, as I stressed in my previous article.
I actually received quite a few comments on the article (for which I was so grateful), and wanted to do a little follow-up.
While, for the most part, people agreed on the importance of moving through difficult emotions, there were definitely some questions regarding how long this stage of healing should last, and the point was brought up that sometimes, feelings of sadness/anger/grief can be addictive, which could quite possibly lead to prolonged patterns of despair and depression. So I thought it would be a good idea to address these things and to write a little bit about what might come after feeling the feelings.
First of all, it’s true—sometimes, sadness can be addictive. How many of us have gone through periods of depression in which, when it came down to it, it almost seemed like we didn’t want to heal ourselves? I’m willing to bet quite a few, including myself at various points in time. However, I truly believe that, eventually, there comes a point where we feel in our hearts that it’s time to move forward and begin to elevate our thoughts to a more positive vantage point. This can require a great deal of mental strength for some people, but sometimes, even simply deciding to begin moving forward can give us a nudge in the right direction.
It’s important to remember, though, that what is considered “reasonable” grieving time is different for everybody. Some people might only need to spend a few days in the rabbit hole of their emotions, while others may need to remain there for weeks or months. Hopefully, while we are in the pits of despair, we have a strong support system of family and friends to rely on. When we’re ready to begin moving forward from the feelings, having support and love from those close to us can make the process much smoother.
So. After we’ve felt the feelings and allowed ourselves to sit with our sadness, what comes next? Ultimately, we’ll probably feel it intuitively. It may be a good idea to begin processing the emotions through the actions of our rational minds. For example, we might ask ourselves, “What did [insert difficult situation/traumatic life event] teach me?” “How might it have pushed me to grow?” “Am I stronger/more resilient/more courageous than I was before?” And a variety of other questions. I can say from personal experience that asking myself these questions has definitely helped me many times on various healing journeys.
Another thing that has helped me tremendously in the past is focusing on the things I’m grateful for to help move me forward. Since sadness can be almost a little addictive sometimes, it seems like even after our bodies are done feeling it, our minds can carry some of the residue, simply out of habit. This is when it becomes crucial to actively elevate our thoughts to higher frequencies. Taking time each day to make a list of things we’re grateful for is a wonderful way to begin this process, for when we put more attention on the elements in our lives we’re thankful for, more and more positivity will begin to flood our lives.
It is definitely a good idea to be more intentional with self-care at this time, too. When we’re going through the stages of healing, it’s possible that, at times, we might forget to do even the most basic things, like eating. Once you’ve taken the time to move through the feelings, make the time to take care of yourself. Eat right, work out, do something creative, meditate, listen to good music, laugh with friends, take bubble baths. I have found that throwing myself into my creative endeavors has helped me tremendously when I’m going through periods of healing. Do what you need to do to start feeling good again, and begin to be more intentional about elevating your thoughts to a more positive perspective.
It’s also important to remember that just because we’ve already gone through the difficult feelings doesn’t mean that additional difficult feelings won’t come up. Sometimes, there are wounds within us that we didn’t even know needed healing. But when they come up, it’s crucial to deal with them accordingly. Feel them, move through them, and then move forward and let them go. Healing is an ongoing process.
I mentioned in my previous article that we do not need to be happy all the time, and it’s true. We need to allow ourselves to move through our painful emotions so that we can ultimately heal from them. When the time is right—and with support from those around us—we will emerge from our holes of sadness and continue moving upward and onward on our paths to living our best lives possible.
It can be tempting sometimes to be hard on ourselves and to think we should be further ahead on our paths than we currently are. Let’s remember to show compassion and acceptance for ourselves, and let’s heal with the knowledge that after moving through our difficult emotions, an abundance of joy and wholeness is on its way.