As a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner, I’ve had to rehab both of my knees after I subluxed them on four separate occasions. The first time was a total shock. I hobbled around in misery, limped for weeks on end and was thrown off by the slightest tinge of pain or discomfort. By the second, third and fourth injury I became a pro at dealing with pain. It became a process for me and I knew what to expect. I could envision my low points and my high points. I could see the thunderstorm in the distance and I knew how to get through it and come out stronger on the other side.
I’ve found that many, if not all of the same components of physical healing apply to emotional healing. There are seven key fundamentals that I live by when I am faced with crippling emotional pain and despair that help me to let go. The steps below are listed in the order that I go through this very methodical process. One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes we need professional help to get us on track. After each of my injuries, I consulted a professional to make sure I had no severe rips or tears and they helped guide my healing process. Consulting a professional when needed is a good sign that you are serious about getting well and helps to provide accountability.
- Commit to do the work. When your body is stunned with pain it tends to shut down. Despite your natural reaction to shut down, the very first step in dealing with a breakup, moving on or just letting go of something is that you have to commit to do the work. I remember the last time that I subluxed my knee I was laying on the mat, covered in sweat and breathing heavily. The first wave of pain had just passed and as I laid there I knew that if I wanted to get back to doing what I love to do, I had to do the work. I made the commitment to heal in the midst of my pain and anguish and started to move into healing right away.
- Put yourself in a healing program quickly. After I recently reinjured my knee, I started physical therapy within 24 hours. I still remember my Physical Therapist telling me to make sure that I don’t coddle my injury. In other words, don’t baby it! Rehab hurts and the success of rehabilitation comes down to doing the work. Just like emotional healing hurts and is uncomfortable for quite some time. It hurts until one day you notice less pain and more agility. It’s in those moments that I’ve realized that I’m much stronger than I was before. Hurt and pain surround us in life and we have to learn to live alongside it. The wound has to be cleaned, so bring on the burn.
- The importance of self-restoration using mindful meditation and self-assuring mantras. In moving on it’s vital to confront and process everything; the good, the bad and the ugly. Utilizing restorative methods such as mindful meditation and mantras allow us to release and fill ourselves with truth. Mantras help us to claim what is ours and set our intentions. One of the most powerful mantras that I’ve used is, “I will not own rejection; I will not produce rejection as a reaction to anything or anyone; I will stop owning rejection in my life.” Another is, “I am worthy of love; I am worthy to be loved; I am capable of loving.” Don’t forget the power of breath! I often use the following exercises during mindful meditation.
- Breathe in love; breathe out hate.
- Breathe in light; breath out fire.
- Breathe in green; breathe out black.
- Breathe in completion, breathe out loss.
- Breathe in forgiveness, breathe out guilt.
- Slow Down Your Thinking. I used to be down on myself for being a slow thinker. I wanted to get to solutions faster. Yet I noticed that when I took my time to think deeply and reflect I would come away with more depth and fortitude. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman studied this type of critical thinking. Kahneman noted that slowing down our thought process avoids jumping to conclusions and creates space for careful and logical decision making. Journaling is a great way to cultivate this behavior and allows us to create a mental roadmap that brings patterns of thought and behavior to light.
- Recognize your obstacles and develop an action plan. You have to face facts. You are going to have both good days and bad days and that’s ok. The goal is to develop consistency over time. I’ll often make sure to schedule a yoga class, bike ride or group outing as much as possible if I know that a certain day or time will trigger me more than others. At the same time, don’t forget to pay homage to your emotions respectfully. That person place or thing that is no longer present was part of you. You will miss it or them. One thing I’ve learned is to stop beating myself up for missing something. Allow yourself to grieve and each day gets a little easier. I also often do little pulse checks throughout the day, in order to recognize how I’m feeling. I acknowledge the feeling but I don’t stay in it. I watch it flutter and experience it without judgment. Then the next feeling comes and I stay with that one, and so on.
- Find an outlet to release emotion in a supportive environment. We often wait to really release and reflect until we’re on a vacation but we need to do it daily. One of my favorite classes to do is an all women’s Muay Thai class at my gym. I’m surrounded by powerful women and we are collectively letting go of what society says that we are not and we are breathing in who we are with every strike, kick, knee and elbow. Our instructor often ends class with a warrior yell, which involves all of us roaring together in unison. Find your daily escape.
- Stay positive and claim your victory. Now I’m not talking about denial here. Claiming your victory reminds me of an exercise rehabilitation technique that I often used in my recoveries. You start with small exercises soon after the injury and maintain a somewhat active schedule despite your discomfort. This paired with extensive self-care, helps to accelerate recovery and reduce pain. In other words, keep it moving. Denial is the art of not dealing with your feelings and pretending that everything is ok. Claiming your victory is doing the work of healing and keeping your eye on the finish line. Stay focused on the things that make you happy and don’t let anyone steal your happiness.
One thing that often holds us back from letting go is that we try to live life perfectly, with everything in its place but this goes against the natural order of the universe. Our world is largely imperfect but these imperfections and great chasms of our broken world create wonders. Although we should strive to better ourselves and the world around us, what is far more important than living life perfectly is just living.
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