“And when I get that feeling, I want [emotional] healing” (credit to Marvin Gaye)

We all hit difficult times in life. Something unforeseen rocks our boat or perhaps even capsizes the entire thing. It’s scary. It’s lonely. It’s a life altering experience.

As individuals attempting to navigate through our own life bumps, or mountains, we are more likely to turn to repeated exposure of material to help us through. Of course we are! The more we learn the better off we are, right? Adult Canadians have an average of 12.3 years of formal education. That is 12.3 years of learning how to use our brains…how to think our way out of problems. I believe that anyone attempting to work through one of these bumps who has turned to self-help books and other forms of acquiring logical knowledge, will most likely tell you that repeated exposure to material, and relying solely on our finely tuned cognitive abilities, only goes so far in helping solve life’s most challenging problems.

So, I’m sorry to have to tell you that, in my experience, the only way to heal our emotional self is with our emotional self. I realize this seems backwards; it feels counter intuitive to pay attention to the very thing that might be causing us pain and struggle. But, just like a broken arm, or any physical problem, we need to give this part of our self attention in order for it to heal. Since our training with our emotions most often pales in comparison to the amount of training and practice we receive in our cognitive abilities, emotional healing tends to be less popular a choice, which makes perfect sense; Most of us just aren’t as practiced, or effective at utilizing our emotions. In fact, the adults in our life while growing up, our teachers, parents, community leaders, were also not likely versed in understanding and working with emotions. It seems to me like we’ve reached a place where there are a lot of broken arms out there that are attempting to be healed through reading about the causes and potential approaches to healing a broken arm. We are understanding our pain on a surface level. Of course knowledge is valuable, but not very helpful in healing the broken arm.

Emotional hurt must be healed through emotional healing. So, pay attention class.  This is our first lesson on emotional healing.

Be vulnerable (Yikes! I know…scary. Be brave.). Allow yourself to feel your feelings fully. Give them the attention they are begging you for. You will survive. You will heal. You will grow even stronger than before.

Share your feelings. Rely on your support system. Expand your support system. Seek out a counsellor. Check in with your doctor. Get creative by writing, drawing, painting about your emotional experience. Most importantly, be honest with yourself about how you are feeling each day.

Be patient. Healing takes time; it takes an unpredictable amount of time. Trust in the healing. It may feel like you are going backwards at times; it might feel like the difficulty will never end. Even feeling like you are going backwards is a part of moving forwards.

Reflect back on your emotional change you experience throughout your healing. What was your state a week ago, month ago, year ago? What has been changing for you emotionally, mentally, and physically? Give yourself credit for the changes…even the little ones, as little changes can have big results.

Emotional healing is a practice and a skill.  You didn’t perfect reading in one day and you will not perfect emotional healing in one day either.  It happens with a combination of true effort, bravery, taking risks and being gentle and understanding with yourself. Please remember above all else, that you do not have to go through healing alone.