In my blog post about how you can Experience Greater Hope And Healing Than You Ever Thought Possible, I shared how I was able to overcome hurt and depression. I listed 3 things to start with.
#3 is the shortest sentence but the biggest part in our journey to overcome hurt and depression. “Act”, that pesky 3 letter word. It is a simple word that carries such weight. For someone who is anywhere in the beginning or middle of their journey to heal, taking action can seem impossible. I remember feelings of fear and hopelessness as I stood before a mountain that seemed so steep and high that I’d wonder, “why even start the climb?” Insurmountable is the word that came to mind so often.
I know many people who have stopped right here. When you look at them you would think they are generally happy but it is only because they have gotten good at pretending there is no mountain. I don’t blame or judge them. But, if they only knew what they are missing out on. The strength, resilience, knowledge, triumph, and peace that comes from making that climb is greater than any gift.
There were times I believed I didn’t have what it took to make the climb. I paralyzed myself because I feared what felt like thousands steps up the mountain instead of focusing on the step that was just in front of me. It is ok to have a vision or end goal but once we have it we need to put blinders on, tie our laces, and start lifting our feet.
A friend once told me, “The water didn’t part for Moses until he first stepped into the Red Sea.” How often I wanted the Lord to clear the path for me so I could take my first step. I didn’t realize how eagerly the Lord was waiting for me to take the first step so He could do just that. I had it backwards.
If this is where you are I’d like to share some of the “steps” I took in my journey to healing. I didn’t do them all at once. Some I always did, some I did now and then, and some were harder than others. As you read through them perhaps your heart will let you know where to start.
When we haven’t healed from something it can manifest in unexpected ways. It is important for us to find what we are doing or start doing when the burden of the pain or sorrow becomes too much. Some examples would be: sabotaging relationships, isolating yourself, frequent shopping, over or under eating, unwarranted anger towards others, negative thoughts, anxiety, unexplained crying, lack of motivation, self-hate, unhealthy addictions, or becoming easily overwhelmed.
These are only some examples. Your warning signs may be different; the point is they need to be identified so that a red flag will go up in your mind every time you start going down an unhealthy path. If you aren’t aware of how your hurt manifests you are in danger of putting on band aids instead of going to the source of the problem. Take some time to ponder and write what your warning signs are. If you are having a hard time seeing them, speaking to someone who loves and knows you may help.
This step is all about communication with our Heavenly Father. It is what all our other actions should hang on. If we truly want peace and healing it makes sense to turn to the one that can heal us. Unfortunately, we can make the common mistake of turning away from Him because He is easy to blame for the pain we may be having. We feel shame, feel abandoned, and it gets even harder to get down on our knees. All I can say here is it is ok to communicate how ever you need in order to break down that wall… talk, yell, cry, say things you are afraid to say. He knows what you are thinking anyway, be vulnerable to the One you can trust with anything. Don’t forget to ASK for healing and direction often in prayer.
Don’t just wait for answers; seek them. I’ve always been taught that we talk to God through prayer; and He responds to us through the scriptures. Feeling like you are in a one way conversation can be discouraging. Opening up the scriptures allows our Heavenly Father to answer us, to guide us, to show His love. Yes, they are the words that millions of others have read but your heart will hear the message that was written for you.
Writing in a journal can give you clarity in almost all the steps. It is at the top of this list because I feel like it is another core action you really don’t want to skip. Putting pen to paper can give you insight and inspiration you’ve never experienced before. If you are afraid of someone reading it, buy a separate journal just for your healing process and throw it away when its pages are filled if you want. I’ve done this myself. I decided there are some things I just don’t want anyone reading but I still needed the benefit from sorting my thoughts out on paper. A journal is a great place to write the good as well. Recording what we are grateful for and what we’ve accomplished will fill our hearts with much-needed joy.
Repenting for anything, great or small, shows humility and opens our hearts for deeper communication and guidance. Turning to our Heavenly Father in prayer each day to ask for forgiveness will keep us close to the Spirit. We especially need that now! The more you repent the closer you will feel to the Savior. He suffered for our sins already; when we graciously accept His offering we are filled with His love.
Service turns our thoughts and focus to others. We will be able see that we aren’t the only ones suffering. It brings joy that can’t be replicated in any other way. You will learn more about and come closer to the Savior because He spent His life in service. We can even start by serving the family members in our home.
When I was in the thick of trying to heal I had to constantly fight off depression. I decided to become a direct sales consultant for a company I liked. I didn’t sign up because I thought it would help me, but that’s exactly what happened. Talents started developing that I didn’t even know I had. I set goals and achieved them. It was fun getting recognition for my work. My mood lifted and I almost completely forgot about how sad I used to be. Hard work and developing talents is rewarding, gratifying, and joyful.
I know you might be thinking, “I don’t need more work!!” Our lives are full, but do you have a “work” that you can look at and feel a sense of accomplishment? If not ask for a fresh perspective on the work you do have or find something to fill the need to learn and grow.
When we think “Healthy Habits” our brains go right to diet and exercise. There are several other areas we can develop healthy habits in. Unhealed hurt can affect us in one of 5 important areas in our lives. Physical, Emotional, Professional, Spiritual, or Social. It can feel impossible to have it all together in all areas all at once but that’s ok! Balance doesn’t mean we are equally focusing on all these areas. As long as we pay attention to each category at some point in our week we are on the right track. Pick one you want strengthen and start setting small goals.
As we go along our way there will most assuredly be obstacles. Sad but true, we are our most common obstacle. We let thoughts creep into our minds that bring discouragement and doubt. We need to have a plan for when these thoughts come. How will you conquer doubt and fear? It doesn’t work to just stop thinking; we need to replace the thought. Have a set affirmation or vision you can turn to immediately. An affirmation can be any phrase that brings you peace. You can repeat it as much as you need to. Something as simple as, “Be Still, and know that I am God” could work. A visualization or image you can bring to your mind can be centering as well. Start by thinking of a peaceful place you’ve been or want to be and imagine yourself there. Most people have no problem finding themselves in a hammock on a beach:)
There isn’t anything our Savior can’t heal. Some believe that if this is the case they shouldn’t have to seek out any help. I believe He gave His children gifts and talents so we could help each other. Talking to others can be healing… friends, family members, church leaders. Those that have been professionally trained will have insights and tools that others do not. For me a therapy that was life changing is EMDR. I highly recommend it for anyone that needs any emotional healing from past experiences (pretty much everyone:). There are a lot of alternatives out there that have worked for a lot of people. Be prayerful in the process, do your research and you will find the help you need.
“Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” -Malachy McCourt.
This quote is a perfect reminder of why forgiving is so important. Often it is the last step in healing. It can happen in a moment or it can take years. We can flex our “forgiveness muscle” by learning to forgive small things each day. It takes practice. Eventually we will be able to forgive the big things. Once we lay all our hurt at our Savior’s feet complete healing won’t be far behind.
I’ve made a printable for you to refer to as you take your first step to overcome hurt and depression. It will be helpful to have reminders of your goals all around you. I framed a list similar to this one and kept it in my room to look at each day as I was “climbing my mountain.” These steps can help anyone, no matter how great or small the hurt is.