Have you ever heard the phrase “easier said than done?”
If you have, congratulations, you’re an adult. If you haven’t, I worry about you.
At some point in our lives, we are going to hit rock bottom or find ourselves in a situation that we can’t quite shake. Whether we’re (unhealthily) emotionally attached or physically attached, moving on from said situation seems arduous and mind-numbingly painful. We would rather stay in the situation or dwell on what was than be able to move on from it.
Here’s the thing: Instead of moving on from a painful situation as if it’s another mile marker on the highway of life, we need to get past it. There is a semantic difference between “getting past” and “moving on,” and moving on doesn’t always give us the closure that we need to get past something.
As an adjective, the word “past” means “gone by in time and no longer existing.” It can describe a relationship, a friendship, the loss of a loved one, a job, a moment, or a variety of other moments that are now memories.
These moments have passed us by, and all we have left are the memories.
We are all human beings. We have emotions, feelings, and the ability to recall memories at any time we want. The most random things can trigger that ability to recall memories. You could hear a song on the radio and the floodgate of memories of your ex or your former friend could come rushing into your mind. You may then find yourself in a rabbit hole of emotions you don’t want to be feeling.
Personally, I have found myself awake at night countless times, thinking back on everything that has left a lasting emotional toll on my life. I’ve tried melatonin, sleeping aids, and other medicinal options in hopes of putting my mind to ease.
That is only a temporary fix.
To truly get past any bad experiences or trauma you have experienced, you have to remember that it is in fact in the past. Your experiences are lessons of what not to do in the future. Look for the red flags in relationships and find alternative solutions to your problems with toxic friends and family. If you’re in an unwinnable situation, prepare for an exit that won’t leave you for dead like Mufasa was in The Lion King.
The first step in getting past a toxic situation is putting your thoughts into the written word.
Oftentimes, that could mean keeping a journal or thought-book, a place that you can release every last thought that you have, good or bad. By putting those thoughts from pen to paper (or from finger to smartphone), you’re presenting yourself with an opportunity to clear your mind of those all-consuming thoughts. I once flew from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia, and instead of using the time to sleep, I wrote down every thought I had on every surface of a folder from my backpack. After two consecutive hours of frivolously scribbling like a madman, I felt the weight of the world slide off my shoulders. It probably didn’t help that I carried that folder around with me for the remainder of my trip, but in essence, I freed myself of those thoughts.
Another way to move past your feelings is to write a letter to the person who wronged you or to the person you wronged. Whether you send the letter or not, it’s a symbolic way of getting your words in. You won’t ever get a response or the answers you want, but you’re able to plead your case and speak your truth, if even if it’s just on paper or digitally. I have more than once sent a letter to the people who wronged me. Even though they all responded differently, I felt so much more carefree afterwards.
Again, this is all easier said than done. You’re going to find yourself doubting whether you’re ever able to get past a situation that haunts you. We’re only human. No one in the history of mankind has ever been able to get past a situation that didn’t sit well with them overnight. It’s a process.
Moving past problems is almost like the five stages of grief.
You’re going to be in denial for a long time, unable to come to terms with a breakup or a death. Moving on, you’ll be angry, you’ll go on a bender, you’ll project your feelings onto people who are only trying to help you, and then, you’ll come to.
You will then enter the bargaining stage of grief, in which you will make compromises or convince yourself that you were at fault. You’ll find excuses, replay every last conversation in your head, and wonder where things went wrong.
Eventually you’ll fall into the depression stage. That can take the longest to get through. Whether you’re clinically diagnosed or you self-diagnose, this may be when you dwell on your thoughts. Your whole life may seem pointless and useless.
After you’ve come out of your depression, you’ll finally be able to reach the ultimate acceptance. That acceptance frees you from the shackles that held you back, kept you up at night, and plagued your thoughts. You no longer worry “what if;” you wonder “what’s next.”
Getting past emotional trauma is not easy.
It takes courage, willpower, and motivation to escape from your negative thoughts. You can truly go the distance once you overcome your past.