We often hear people who’ve been through a traumatic event or breakup or loss that they feel broken. I’m broken they say. As if to say that there’s no hope in getting back to their normal state and as though to imply that they need fixing.
I myself have used the words “I feel broken” in the past. That’s how it felt at the time. I thought there was a part of me that would remain broken and become re-activated whenever tragedy would strike. I believed I was an eternal victim, unlucky in life and a magnet for disapointing outcomes and suffering. Then one day, after going down the personal development and self-help rabbit hole for 10 years, I was listening to a podcast by Brenda Johnston and I heard these words in one of her episodes: “You are not broken” . They really resonated. I felt hopeful and empowered. It opened my heart to change and renewed my optimism about my ability to grow and heal.
The truth is often times, we are not in need of fixing but rather in need of acceptance, of ourselves or of the situation. This article outlines six life lessons we can learn from deep loss, suffering or trauma.
Truly love yourself even in moments of failure. Self-love, self-compassion and self-acceptance can feel very healing in moments where you perceive you’ve failed at something. So how can we move away from language that sounds permanent and hopeless? By recognizing that the experience is an opportunity for personal growth and change, and there is always a lesson to be learned no matter how painful the method of delivery. In fact, you may even be creating the space you’ve always needed to become your authentic self, experience tremendous amounts of self-growth and find your voice again.
Find the deeper meaning in tragedy. Painful moments in your life can have deep meaning. They can open a new door when another closes, leading you to powerful transformations. This is more of a healing and “rebirth” then a repair job. So, take the opportunity to re-think your personal vision during these times, press the puase button on life and re-consider your plan when these events happen. They’re also a chance to recognize your own humanity and imperfections. It is not personal failure but rather personal realization that something has shifted, and something better or at least different, might be out there for you in the future. In the case of a break-up, remember that what you leave behind has ended for a reason. Ask yourself a few questions to examine the situation: Does the experience shift your life mission or purpose? Does it help you understand it better? Learn to recognize the red flags in your next relationship. Learn to listen to your intuition about a situation and avoid it if it feels wrong. We’re not always taught how to do these things but it is possible to learn how.
Reclaim your power. When we resist change, we experience depression and anxiety. When we embrace it and accept it, we become empowered. A difficult loss is a chance for a clean slate which can be very empowering! The intent of this article is not to minimize your suffering or dismiss your experience. Instead, the goal is to empower you to move beyond the thought that your are irreparable and need fixing. Instead, focus on empowering yourself! Learn to say no and set limits the next time around. Watch this video for scripts on how to say no:
While people need support and help throughout their lives, the language we use is so important and influences the beliefs we have about our life. Shifting your mindset about a situation requires using different language. Using language like “I’m broken” disempowers you to act and find a solution to the situation. It can be your reason to say “Oh well! There’s no hope for me so I may as well not try to improve things!”. On the other hand, use language like “I’m temporarily down for the count but will get through this!” or the classic “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. These may sound cliche but in fact open the door for transformation and improvement rather than symbolically closing the door to change.
Change is just about the happen. Often, really difficult events are actually a catalyst for big change although we don’t recognize it until much later. It’s through our resilience, our courage, and our optimism that we get through these hard times. THAT is what you should repeat to yourself. “I am resilient. I am courageous. I am optimistic about my future. I will get through this!” Recognizing that change is inevitable and nothing is permanent is life can be a good way to frame loss and unexpected change. As a former Buddhist I still believe one of their basic tenants: to recognize the impermanence of life. Accepting change and even embracing it will reduce the pain and suffering, while resisting it will only prolong it. As the author Paula Coelho says so well:
“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them.”
You can choose to keep going. Sometimes, the loss was inevitable and it’s hard to find the life lesson. Especially when we lose someone special to us. Give yourself a few days to mourne and respect your grieving process. But, then recognize that you have a choice in life to accept. Letting go of the past with appreciation and love can give you the strength to keep moving forward. You can choose to move on or you can chose to stay stuck. Either way, it’s really a conscious choice you make when you’re ready to do so. Reaching out for support in hard times is so important! It’s easy to retreat and not reach out, but sometimes sharing your experience can give you the validation and encouragement you need to rethink the situation and find a solution. It can give you the insight to understand what happened, and move past it. Focusing on the things and people who make you happy and spending your time on these people and things can really help shift negative feelings and thoughts.
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” – Rumi
Learn to love yourself more. Of course, the basis for self-love and self-compassion is the ability to practice self-care in times of stress. It’s caring enough about your own wellbeing to put yourself first and make your own needs a priority as you heal. This requires a daily practice of physical, mental, emotional actions that rejuvinate and strengthen your mind and body. It’s different for everyone, but a key part is to have a morning ritual where you focus only on your wellbeing, and a quiet safe space in your home where you can retreat when you feel you need it. If you need inspiration on how to set limits and practice self-care, take a look at my e-book “Your Ultimate Guide to Self Care & Boundary Setting“. It’s available on Amazon for only $1.99.
The lessons we learn from difficult moments or events can lead to some of the most important transformations in our life. Please comment below if you’ve ever experience one of the above, I’d love to hear your story.
Copyright Authentic World Inc 2020, Michelle Thompson 2020
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Michelle. I’m a postgraduate qualified professional with over twenty years of experience as a group facilitator and public educator. I’ve helped thousands of people re-imagine their lives and create concrete plans for self-improvement. I’ve facilitated dozens of workshops and support groups on topics like stress management, mental health and wellness, goal setting, grief counselling, safety planning, and confidence building. I’m a former social worker and crisis services coordinator, and after working for eight years as a non-profit consultant, I felt a strong desire to return to helping people. I created Authentic World Inc, an international life coaching company that offers one-on-one support and self-directed courses on personal development topics. I also teach philosophy part time at Carleton University in Canada’s national capital. In my coaching approach, I consider the teachings of the modern philosophers of our time and use a holistic method for teaching you how to become more compassionate towards yourself and improve the quality of your life in the process.
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