So often times, my clients want a simple formula for working through their past. They come in and report that undesirable things have happened to them and they don't know how to let go of the anger and sadness that typically accompanies a loss.
Perhaps this sounds like you. Have you been through a nasty divorce, the death of a loved one, or bankruptcy due to someone's financial irresponsibility? Maybe there's a family member that is estranged from you and these losses have really taken a toll on your psyche.
When bad things happen to good people you have to increase your resiliency so that you don’t stay wounded from the trauma. The clients that I work with have asked for easy guidelines to help navigate them through the trauma and drama of life.
When this occurs I typically teach them the following formula that is easy to remember and helps them to process the pain.
Feel it. Look at it. Learn from it. And then let it go
What I'm advocating for here is not a Pollyanna-ish approach. You take an uncomfortable situation and the first thing you do is feel the feelings that accompany it. Perhaps you're one of those unfortunate people that numbs out and you don't feel the pain or the loss from life. If that is you I would ask you to imagine what feeling you should be feeling and then purposefully practice feeling the feeling. The reason I say this is that it is important to acknowledge the pain you feel if you're going to work through it and learn from it.
The next step is to look at the situation and feelings and assess how you may have contributed to the problem and why it may have happened to you. I know you may be saying that your husband cheating on you had nothing to do with you and in part you are right but invariably we are all 100% responsible for our behavior and there were likely some things that you could've done differently to avoid part of this pain. Maybe that required that you get out of denial and start listening to your gut that was telling you years ago something was wrong. Or maybe you resisted going to a counselor and getting marital help.
After you look at it and assess it appropriately, you ask yourself what did I learn from it? When you do this, it takes you out of the “victim” state. This requires you to ask yourself two very important questions, what does this have to teach me? And what have I learned from it? When you ask yourself those questions, you take yourself out of the victims’ role and you put yourself in a place of empowerment. Once you understand what you have learned from the situation, you will likely never repeat it again. This means you will be more responsible with your finances or you'll pick a better partner or you will choose a better job.
The last thing you want to do is to let the pain go. You no longer want to be held back by old feelings and past pain. This may require lots of visualization, journaling, self-reflection, support or prayer. Processing pain and trauma creates personal growth and makes a person stronger. After you let it go, you can move on with your life and create the life that is worthy of the new and improved you!