“True healing is the willingness to treat yourself and others better than the past ever did.” ~ Matt Kahn
I’m fond of being cerebral and spiritual. But sometimes we just need a list, right? Here are the directions. Just do this and you’ll feel better. Don’t give it too much thought, just do it. So here is my practical suggestion for four things you can do every day to help heal your trauma. (Still with the cerebral and spiritual quotes, because they’re awesome and healing in their own right.)
1. Quiet your mind.
“Listen – are you breathing just a little and calling it a life? ~Mary Oliver
Breathe deeply. Set aside some time today to breathe deeply and quiet your mind. Settle yourself in a place you can feel safe, stick some nice music in your ears, whatever you need to just sit still with yourself. And BREATHE. Breathe deeply and profoundly.
Empty your brain as best you can, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Thoughts will trickle in, just gently say to them, “not now.” And return to the emptiness.
This is like pushing a reset button on your nervous system. And I know it’s hard when you’re a trauma survivor. I KNOW. Sometimes being alone in your own mind can seem scary.
I promise the more you practice, the deeper you breathe, and the more you disempower your random thoughts, the less scary it will be. It will start to be a safe harbor, and at some point become a necessity. This is the space we need to remember that we are one with God.
2. Find something in Nature to marvel at.
“I go to Nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more.” ~ John Burroughs
We are all so busy, aren’t we? And here I am telling you to squeeze more time into your day to marvel at some Nature. But this doesn’t have to be a hike in the woods or a trip to the park. Even in a big city, Nature is literally all around us. Watch snow fall out the window, watch your cat or dog sleep, be amazed at the strength of an ant carrying a crumb across the kitchen counter, look at the moon or watch the stars come out. If you have a yard, sit in it and look around you. Just notice. Is there a gentle breeze, perhaps, stirring the leaves in the trees? Are there birds going about their busy day? Do you see things growing all around you?
Nature restores our faith by being so constant and accessible. It heals our trauma by reminding us that life goes on and to rely on these good and steady displays of God’s love.
Practitioner hint: to save time, you can combine #1 and #2 – in fact, I highly recommend it!
3. Take another step toward forgiveness.
“Today I decided to forgive you. Not because you apologized, or because you acknowledged the pain that you caused me, but because my soul deserves peace.” ~ Najwa Zebian
Forgiveness is critical to healing. It’s not easy and it won’t happen all at once and you will need God’s help to get there. But today, just take one more baby step closer. Not for their sake, but for yours. We truly keep ourselves in prison when we refuse to forgive.
Studies have shown, too, a correlation between the ability to forgive and the severity of PTSD. Holding back on forgiveness means holding on to some rage, which keeps our bodies in fight or flight status and can lead to increased anxiety. So by not forgiving, we are stuck in trauma. I know you don’t want that. You deserve better.
So just for today, hold a little thought, “I will forgive you, because my soul deserves peace.” Notice how saying “will” forgive can mean either you’re doing it in the next moment, or just maybe someday. Wherever you are in your healing will determine the timeline.
“The intelligent way to be selfish is to work for the welfare of others.” ~ Dalai Lama
Selfish? But if I’m giving of myself Dalai Lama, how is that selfish? Because there is no quicker path to healing than to help someone else! Service takes us out of our own drama and reminds us of our ability to contribute in a positive way to the world around us. Service can restore our faith, not only in God, but in ourselves and our fellow man. Service can be anything! It doesn’t mean you put in many hours at a soup kitchen, although it’s great if you can! It can be many small things throughout the day – times you leave your own head, your own drama, to see what someone around you might need.
Trauma can be so hard on our self-esteem. Self-esteem is defined as how lovable and capable we feel in the world. Service helps us regain some of that. We can again see our value in the world, we make a difference, however small, and we are capable of giving and receiving love. So do something, today, for someone else.
So there it is. Four things to help heal trauma that you can do today. But to be truly healed, you know, we must do them tomorrow too, and the day after that, and then the next day. We don’t do it because we have to. We do it because we are brave and healing is our right, our destination, and our beloved journey.
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.” ~ Brene Brown
You Are Still Beloved
January 17, 2017