I've been on my personal healing journey for many years. You could even make the argument that I have been on it since the day I was born. I probably would not disagree.
As with most folks, I took on the easy lessons first -- the low-hanging fruit. It was a combination of perhaps laziness, fear, and disbelief in my ability to handle what else I might uncover. It was also a whole lot of "it's not time for that". The Universe knew and somewhere, deep down, I did too.
I liken it to cleaning out a centuries-old attic. You deal with the stuff near the stairs, the things within reach first. The leftover wrapping paper from last season, the empty boxes ready for gift-giving this season, and the random cluster of things left in there by the others you've had attachments to over the years -- parents, friends, lovers.
After decades of dealing in small stuff, and organizing new things that have surreptitiously found their way up there, I have finally come to the point where I can no longer avoid dealing with the big stuff tucked back under the eaves -- things like ego, and pride, and this year's big one -- being 100% who I am in all situations, with everyone in my life, with nothing outside myself dictating it.
It's as though someone filled that box with anvils. Heavy, cumbersome, and hard to get rid of. One of the things that it's easier to just put off until another day when you have more energy or enthusiasm. As with most things, however, the Universe knows when the right time is to get your hands dirty, and apparently, this is my time.
So, how do you unhear decades of biting and cruel grandfatherly lectures? How do you let go of over 40 years of external critique from people who are just shining the light on your issues so they don't have to look at or deal with their own? How do you come to the understanding that those terrible and judgmental things that person just hurled in your direction are 99.9% about them and not you, and let them go in that instant -- despite the fact that they hit so hard?
In many cases, my answer for years and years has been "I don't know", or a combination of guessing and trying, with some things working, and many not. The suggestions below are good choices, if you can manage them. There are days I can't, but also some where each makes perfect sense and I gain great amounts of ground by just putting the effort in.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE MIRROR
Yes, I believe that everything shown to me that feels negative, heavy, or like contrast, is a mirror reflecting things within myself that it would serve me to take a look at. Not just a passing glance, or a hair check as I head out the door, but rather intense scrutiny -- scrying with the intent of discovering more of my deep inner truths.
That reflection can be hard to look at. You may want to turn away from some of the ugly horrors you uncover. It's helpful if you don't, but know that there's a right timing for everything. Sometimes just acknowledging what you see is enough. It is in that moment that the healing process begins.
FEEL THE FEELINGS
As with the discovery of many inner truths, there are feelings that come along with those truths. Some sad. Some exciting like a jolt of electricity. Some are like watching a gory horror movie -- your eyes wide, your mouth agape, in a state of sheer disgust, but unable to look away.
Let the feelings that arise have space to be. Give them a wide berth. Be with them. Trust that in doing so, you clear a path for them to dissipate or leave all together.
DO A TOXIC DUMP IN YOUR JOURNAL If the feelings are larger than expected, or more sticky, one good way to release them is to write them down or voice journal them. Spelling things out very specifically can bring clarity and awareness that is often necessary for processing feelings fully. This is not a casual event, however, this is at least 20 minutes (usually more), often performed in a place of solitude, allowing yourself to write or speak every single thing that comes up. It can be arduous, but is also immensely freeing. Five out of five stars -- highly recommend.
If things are feeling particularly stressful, or hell, if it's a Tuesday, you might notice, as I often do, that you aren't breathing, at least not deeply. One of the things I have noticed that I do when I am in fight, flight, or freeze mode (you know, any given moment of the day), I tend to hold my breath, to breathe like I am waiting for the other shoe to fall, and that shoe is a sack of hammers.
That's why mindful breathing is so helpful. First, you have put your mind on your breathing and taken it off of your worries -- at least for a moment. And second, you are now focusing on your breath and noticing that this shallow breathing might just have something to do with why you feel drained, overwhelmed and ill-equipped to face your day.
Box breath is a great place to start. Breathe in, deeply, from your navel for a 5 count. Hold your breath at the top for 5. Exhale slowly for 5. Hold your breath at the bottom for 5. Do this repeatedly until you notice your body and mind relaxing. Once you get practiced at this, try upping the count to 8 or 10. You will be amazed at how your lung capacity increases along with your mindfulness and calm.
SEE WHAT NEEDS HEALING, AND DO THE WORK
No one is privy to what's going on inside us like we are. And no one knows the depths of our need for healing. Empathy is real, but actually walking in those shoes is another thing all together. Since they can't actually know the experiences we've had, they also have no access to knowing the work that is required to kick-start the healing.
"The work" for me might be having that hard conversation with my mother. For you, it might be letting go of that awful thing your co-worker said to you yesterday. Our triggers are unique to us, and we know best what will facilitate the most growth. Getting encouragement to do that growth can be super helpful, and if you have a community of folks that do that for you, cherish them. At the end of the day, however, the work itself is ours and ours alone.
That said, going into it with support and a high vibration can make the work that much easier and more successful.
DO A RITUAL
Ritual, in my humble opinion, is the physicality us humans need to feel like we are doing something. Since so much of our manifestation is energetic and intentional, it is only natural to want a physical "doing" to go along with it -- to make it tangibly feel real to us. So go all out! Doing a ritual enhances the energy work and the intention. It increases your belief in yourself and in the power of the work you are doing.
Make an altar. Burn candles. Call the corners. Make an herbal tea and sip it while you cast runes, pull cards, journal or create a mind map of what's next for you on this beautiful journey of healing.
PULL SOME CARDS
The tarot is one of my favorite go-to choices for clarity and support, and the cards never disappoint! Whether it's an oracle deck or a tarot deck, the messages that show up when you are seeking are always right on point -- like someone out there is actually paying attention to you and where you're at -- perhaps just a message from your higher self, already a bit further down the path and beckoning you forward with reassurances of all that is coming, all that this is for.
If you aren't sure enough to trust yourself with tarot cards just yet, pull from an oracle deck that spells things out clearly and simply. Or, call an experienced friend or hire a reader you trust.
CHOOSE A NEW MANTRA OR AFFIRMATION
Someone once told me that affirmations just set you up for disappointment because you are repeatedly focusing on what isn't, and hoping that it will be. I get this, I do. However, I believe in affirming things, or using a mantra to call forth that which I already know exists.
For instance, I often use "I am" affirmations. They call out things that I am, despite me maybe not feeling like I am in that moment. And you know what? By the end of an "I am" affirmation session I always feel better, and see that I truly AM the things I spent that time calling forth.
There is power in your words. You hear you. Don't underestimate that.
There is also power in seeing the contrast -- where you aren't -- so you can get a clear look at where you want to be and can start paving that road to get there.
Inner work is they key. It is also ongoing. What works for me, may not work for you, or it may work in a different order, or it may work later. It took me until my 40's to be ready to
do this work, but you may be ready in your 20's or 30's or not until your 80's. There is no wrong way to do it. There is no wrong time. There is only the request for self-compassion and grace. Kindness for where you are right now, and the willingness to be open and go with the flow.
For me, the overarching goal is to live my life fully present to my sovereignty, my autonomy, my ability to do, be and have everything I want in this life separate from anything external to me. Outside of the influence of others, their thoughts and opinions. Living my life free from constraint and judgment -- with nothing outside myself.