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Stop Hurting, Start Healing!

Stop Hurting, Start Healing!

Emotional pain will visit each of us at times and can create roadblocks to moving forward. Emotional pain is experienced differently by each individual and can express itself in a number of ways. Sadness, anxiety, withdrawal, fear, anger, shame, and confusion are all expressions of emotional pain. ​Many people of color are carrying emotional pain and have lost sight of where it started. When pain hangs around long enough, it becomes part of our identity. It stifles effective coping skills and can create a sense of being stuck. During these time, Yolanda Adams suggests one should Never Give Up, as "Sometimes life can place a stubborn block in your way But you've gotta keep the faith Reap whats deep inside your heart to fly" Keeping the faith demands a stance of reflection and planning in - preparation for action. While in this stance, here are some suggestions for effective C O P I N G: Consult - a trusted friend, family member, spiritual counselor, therapist. Talking to others helps you to more clearly identify the source of the pain – a necessary step to begin problem solving Own - the feeling. Stop denying, ignoring, pretending. Look yourself in the mirror and acknowledge that you are not feeling your best self. After identifying the source of your emotional pain, acknowledge how pain is impacting you and those around you. During this step, think if there are any positives to holding on to pain – such as using it as an excuse or as an avoidance. Pray - prayer is the act of asking for what you want. It first requires you make a spiritual – not necessarily religious – connection to your own heart and mind. In prayer, we identify our greatest personal values and priorities. We clarify our strengths and ask for help with areas of weakness. We identify sources and resources for support. We speak the pain out loud in our own words, and – most importantly – acknowledge that we want and deserve better. Inquiry - questioning, wondering, investigating. Inquiry is a form of proactive engagement with self and with the world around us. In inquiry you are seeking information to confirm or disconfirm current beliefs. You are asking questions of self and others; you are exploring different perspectives and new ideas. In inquiry, you adopt a learning stance that requires strengthening existing connections and creating connections where none existed before. No – with love. Resolving emotional pain requires time and effort, and both of these are limited resources. Are you spending your time and energy “feeding your pain”? Are you engaging in behaviors that serve to beat up your self-esteem, or to generate additional physical/emotional pain? Are you wasting time avoiding your pain through substance use or other self-harming behavior? Are you so busy taking care of others that you have no time or energy left for you? STOP! Say no to yourself and to others – with love! Set a Game Plan When we just stand, we create space and opportunity for reflection and planning. Having a game plan means bringing all the previous steps together. Acknowledging the pain, gaining some clarity on its source and its impact; identifying personal strengths and weaknesses; asking for help with what we want the most, becoming curious about self and others; seeking relevant information; and finally, re-directing use of your time and energy. Begin: Create a “little black book” of all the people in your life. Make sure contact information is updated. Next to their names, identify their positive qualities (good listener, gives sound advice, makes me laugh, great hugger, etc.). If you are struggling to identify positive qualities of some people in your life, consider whether they are serving to maintain your pain. If you are short on people resources, consider faith-based resources, finding a therapist, seeking out community or online supports. Identify those things you value the most. Set a timer for three minutes. In those three minutes write down the three persons/things you value the most. Don’t overthink or correct those responses that come from the gut. Write these three values and post somewhere visible to you. You can even write them on smaller pieces of paper to fit in your pocketbook or wallet to have with you at all times. It is not only easier to make decisions when we know what we value, it is easier to be more committed to those decisions. Make a list of ten ways you can say no – with love - Five ways to say no to self and five ways to say no to others. There is no right or wrong here – just what will work for you. When you complete your list – practice, practice, practice saying no. Some additional suggestions:

  • Take 15 minutes each morning and/or before bedtime to do some deep breathing, linger in the shower, slowly drink a cup of coffee, be with your own thoughts.

  • Instead of bringing home that large bag of candy or chips, indulge in one small-size candy bar or one small bag of chips.

  • Stop Procrastinating. Putting things off leads to feeling overwhelmed and un-accomplished. Instead put important dates and events on a calendar. Emotional pain impairs memory.

  • Keep a written to-do list and limit each list to maximum 7 – 10 items. If you have more than 10, that probably means you are either setting unrealistic expectations for yourself, or this tool is not working for you. Use notes app or calendar on your phone to assist.

  • Start journaling. This is a great tool for separating the forest from the trees. If you are experiencing tunnel vision – only being able to see one way of doing and being – journaling will help you make connections to alternative perspectives and expand options. If, on the other hand, you are overwhelmed by too many things coming at you at the same time, journaling will help you gain focus and set priorities.

  • Step back from being the doer and the fixer. Remember you need some of that time and energy to give to your own healing. Practice listening without giving advice. Learn how to delegate responsibility and trust others to complete – even if it’s not up to your perfect standards. Volunteer to drop off a pie rather than taking the lead in organizing the bake sale. Learning to put self before others is can be one of the most difficult steps to take – and the most necessary step to healing.

  • Create a vision board. A vision board is a visual representation of your most important goal(s). It can be large or small. It can be decorated any way you like. Place it somewhere where you can see it as often as you need to. A vision board should:

Identify your goal(s) Connect goals to your values or beliefs Signal what will change when you achieve the goal(s) Give a timeframe (timeframe should be realistic and not too rigid) Identify steps you need to take to achieve goal Identify people and resources you need to achieve goal This is a stance of faith, reflection, and planning - in preparation for action.

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