When in the midst of a bad day have you ever just stopped and asked yourself, “What am I supposed to do to get through this?” When I was younger I can remember my grandma telling me, “Darlin’, this too shall pass.” She was right. Eventually that drama was over just in time for the next big ordeal to start up. Now that I’m older, I realize everything eventually passes, but how I handle myself during and afterwards is what makes healing a success or a long and drawn out process. It’s the action I take the matters and it ultimately results in my good mental health.
First step: Cry. One of my favorite television series of all time is “Everybody Loves Raymond,” especially the episode entitled “Alone Time”. Debra convinces Ray to take the kids for the day so she can have some alone time. He takes them across the street to his parent’s house, but sneaks home only to find her sitting alone in the living room crying into a wad of tissues. When he asks her what’s wrong, she tells him nothing’s wrong, sometimes she just likes to cry, it’s cathartic.
Instead of expressing our stress, frustration, sadness, anxiety, excitement and/or depression we put on a happy face and convince ourselves and others that we’re in control. We store these trapped emotions in our nervous and cardiovascular systems. Did you know suppression of tears can increase stress levels and contribute to more serious health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart problems and ulcers? Have you ever paid attention to how many emotional roller coasters you ride every single day? An emotional release can elevate your mood and lower your stress levels. Maybe Debra was onto something; an occasional releasing of the flood gates doesn’t sound like such a bad idea after all. So grab a wad of tissue and sob, weep, wail, whimper, bawl, or blubber, but let it out.
Second, don’t be bitter. After the tears have flowed we have 2 choices; holding on or letting go. It’s our nature to hold on. Indirectly and without realizing we choose bitterness because when wronged we are convinced that in order to heal we “deserve” an apology. As if hearing those 2 little words will magically dissolve and defuse any and all wrongs that have been done. This makes me wonder why if 2 little words are so powerful do we recite the saying, “Actions speak louder than words” as though it’s biblical? Do we really believe this, or are we simply trying to right the wrong of harboring bitterness?
Moving on and letting go are in fact actions. They both require effort and a conscious state of awareness in the action. If we really want to promote happiness and healing we need to start with ourselves. Too often I think we’re concerned about what others think. When my kids were younger I’d ask them, “If your friends jumped off the roof, would you jump off the roof too?” What I was asking my kids to do was think for themselves. When did we stop thinking for ourselves and began worrying more about what others think, expect and need from us in order to make our lives make sense? At this point you have to ask yourself, “Do I know myself?” and “What do I need in order to move on and let go?” Releasing bitterness won’t solve all the problems or right all the wrongs, but it can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
We all know, “This too shall pass,” but getting through it and past it all in one piece with some shred of dignity still intact requires actions those 4 little words didn’t cover. Next time life lands a sucker punch grab a wad of tissues (the ones with lotion) and go to town, then let it go because the longer you live Girl, the more you’re bound to learn (and learning is an action) that improves your mental health.
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