What has life given you lately? Anything? Was it a gift, a gift in disguise, or a total disaster? For many of us, we experience a little bit of all three of these things. It’s common for humans to experience life at varying levels during different times in our lives. Sometimes we come out of the dark, cold tunnel feeling empowered or enlightened. While at other times we come out of the dark, cold tunnel feeling even more confused and all alone. Either way, no human will escape feeling as though they are falling apart.
When have you fallen apart in your life? Was it when the family could not hide any longer and would not try to get along? Was it when your divorce happened? Was it a mental health diagnosis? Was it job loss? Whatever the case, falling apart requires that we eventually learn how to pick up the pieces of our soul and move forward. Finding the motivation to actually move forward can take a long time. But “moving forward” doesn’t always mean complete healing, success, or victory. That perspective is often false and fantasized. Moving forward may mean taking baby-steps and re-learning how to live life again. We may never move forward in total “healing,” but the right tools can push us in a better direction.
It was not until I experienced multiple disappointments in my own life that I began to pursue higher meaning and purpose for the suffering. In my search for meaning, I met realizations that changed my perception and my heart forever. There are things you will have to come to terms with (within yourself and possibly within others or the situation itself) in order to move forward. Acceptance of disappointment or hurt is the first step toward progress. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you are ignoring the issue, it means that you are using the only tools that you have right now. But it is only when you begin to merge the following together with your painful experience will you fully be on your way toward psychological, emotional, and spiritual healing:
- Learn from the hurt: It can be so difficult trying to process a painful situation and then learn from it. But learning from the situation has a way of providing closure and helping us to move forward. Learning may take a very long time. For me, it isn’t until I go through the experience, experience all the emotions of the experience, and accept it happened that I begin to learn. Don’t rush this process, but be open to it.
- Question: A lot of people have a lot of questions. Life is full of confusion. I’ve learned the strongest people are those who can move on beyond their questions and find purpose. Life is a big question mark! Don’t let this stop you from growing.
- Process: Processing a circumstance takes time and may take years until you get to a place of inner calm. I tend to process my thoughts and emotions through journaling or writing down my dreams. The human mind and soul are complex, take notes.
- Accept: Accept that you may never understand why something bad has happened. We aren’t super-human, neither are we capable of understanding all things that occur among our complex human existence. Only a Great Being can do so. In the meantime, it’s okay to have questions, but you cannot move forward until you realize you may never have an answer.
- Treatment: “Treatment” includes taking care of yourself with things that revive your heart, soul, and mind. You want to refrain from those things that make life worse in the long-term, but “good” in the short-term. Examples include drug abuse, alcohol, reckless behavior, self-injurious behavior, overeating, etc. Treatment requires self-care, not self-destruction.
- Move on: Once you process a situation, get through all of your questions (with or without an answer), accept the situation, and treat yourself, you can move on.
- Wait: One very wise thing my mother and pastor use to say to me was “sometimes in life you just have to wait.” Waiting means to cease from trying to change things that cannot be changed by You.
- An anchor: an anchor is anything that holds you and doesn’t let you fall. Technically, an anchor is a heavy object attached to a rope or chain. It is strong enough to hold a ship. Do you have an anchor? I encourage you to find one to hold on to. Could it be your family? Your children? God? Truth? Anything that can hold you is an anchor.
As always, feel free to share your thoughts or ways you cope, I enjoy discussing them.
I wish you all the best
Editor’s note: This article was originally published September 25, 2013 on PsychCentral.com but has been updated to reflect comprehensiveness and accuracy.