We have to ignore the apocalyptic voices in our head that take us to hell instead of heaven. We have to ignore the way they frighten us and the way they belittle us to believe that we’re not good enough. We have to try to shove them aside when they attack us and we have to trust ourselves more even if we’re unsure of ourselves. We have to ignore our uncertainty and just keep moving.
We have to ignore the critics.
We have to ignore their opinions and their advice, we have to ignore their rules and their limitations and we have to ignore the toxic words they use to describe us and the poisonous arguments they feed us about why we shouldn’t do this or why we shouldn’t follow that. We have to ignore their experiences because it is not our own and we have to ignore their excuses because that’s how they justify living their lives and we need to find our own justifications.
We have to ignore those who left us behind.
We have to ignore their promises, the plans we made for the future, the secrets they shared with us and the way they looked at us. We have to ignore these enchanting moments because they’re no longer happening. They chose to take it all back and we have no other choice but to leave them behind too, because fighting for them might not bring them back and even if it did, they will run away again. We have to ignore those who didn’t appreciate us and we have to ignore the way they made us feel about ourselves.
We have to ignore some of our questions.
We have to ignore the dreadful questions we ask ourselves every night: ‘Why me? When will I be happy? What do I want? Why am I still here?’
Sometimes we have to ignore these tantalizing questions and trust that in time we will find the answers and that the answers may not always be what we wanted.
It’s hard to ignore the things that bother us but it’s also harder to live with all these burdens, they weigh us down if we pay too much attention to them.
We’re always faced with two choices; either we carry those burdens with us until they kill us or ignore them so we can live.
Sometimes silence speaks louder than words. Sometimes your answer lies in everything that wasn’t said followed by everything that wasn’t done. Sometimes the words unsaid silence your doubts more than spoken words ever will. Sometimes people show you who they really are and what you mean to them by saying nothing at all. Sometimes their silence is the answer to your confusion and your burning questions.
And I know that we as human beings crave that communication, crave that expression and we want people to tell us how they feel and what we mean to them. We want people to tell us why they let us down or why they didn’t leave when our door was wide open. We want people to apologize or tell us where we went wrong or give us the closure we need and sometimes we just want them to listen to what we have to say. To listen to what got us there or why we left or why we couldn’t stay or why we said what we said but that’s not always the case in our modern era. An era that teaches people to sweep words and feelings under the rug, move on, pretend it never happened. We no longer give words their importance or give people their value.
But more often than not, what’s left unsaid says it all. The lies that are now exposed, the promises that are now broken, the stories they tell people about us, the secrets people reveal about them and suddenly you realize that you never really knew this person or maybe you only knew one version of them. Suddenly you find yourself at loss for words as well, unable to speak, unable to comprehend what happened, unable to shake off that you were manipulated by someone you trusted blindly. Suddenly, you wish you could take back every word you ever said simply because they didn’t deserve it.
But let me tell you something, maybe they didn’t deserve it, maybe your lips spoke the truth and their lips were full of lies and excuses. Maybe you opened up because you trusted them and maybe you chose to see the best in them when they chose to see the worst in you but whatever the case may be, please don’t forget that you are human too and that sometimes you follow your heart and say what’s on your mind. Sometimes the slightest touch or the right question or the right moment opens the floodgates to your emotions and your scars and it’s not your fault that you still believe in that kind of connection, in that kind of bond and in that kind of love. It’s not your fault that the people you meet aren’t on the same wavelength and it’s not your fault that they’re still not mature enough to fulfill your emotional needs.
And sometimes this is how it really ends, you don’t say a word and they don’t either. You make small talk because the big words are bitter. You smile but deep inside you’re full of disappointment. Someone once told me that the beginning seldom reveals a person’s true colors but the end tells you everything. How they treat you when they no longer want something or want you. How they choose to remain in your memories. Let that be your answer, let that be all you need to know because sometimes what’s left unsaid tells you more than a thousand words ever will.
Please don’t let me get attached to what’s not meant for me anymore. Don’t let me get attached to something or someone that you plan on taking away from me.
I know your plan is unknown but until you reveal it to me, please make it easier. Don’t let me hold on to what I need to let go of. Don’t let me fight for what I need to release. Do not let me desire what will eventually destroy me. Do not let me love those who will break my heart.
Because I get attached easily and I hold on to things tightly, so please don’t let my mind want things that I can’t handle, don’t let my mind trick me into wanting things I don’t need or things that are not good for me. Please don’t let my heart miss people who don’t miss me. Don’t let my heart long for the ones who left. Don’t let my heart fall in love with someone who doesn’t want to stay.
Please don’t let me get attached to the things that keep me up at night, to people who leave me wondering and to places I’m not meant to live in. Bring me closer to what’s meant for me, let me hold on to those who are meant to stay.
But let me forget about the things that were never meant to be, give me the faith I need to believe that I’m better off without them. Give me the wisdom I need to realize that I deserve so much better and that I’ll be happier somewhere else with somebody else.
Or just give me tolerance I need right now to be okay with not getting the things I want, with not loving the ones I wanted to love and give me the patience I need to wait for your blessings and wait for your gifts.
But for now, please don’t let me get attached to what’s wrong for me. Don’t let me invest so much in things or people I’m bound to lose. Don’t let me want what’s not mine. Don’t let me build a future around what’s temporary.
There should not be a lot of room in life for storage. I have too much storage in my life, but that is all about to change. I have never been good at goodbyes. Holding on is what I’m better at. But this time, I’m slowly learning to say goodbye to everything that is no longer good for me.
I’m learning to say goodbye to the people in my life that don’t provide any type of quality on who I am as a person. I’m saying goodbye to the doubters, the naysayers, the selfish, the arrogant, the lazy and the deceitful. I’m saying goodbye to the ones that shattered my heart and didn’t look back to see where the pieces fell. I’m saying goodbye to the ones that planted poisonous doubts in my mind because they had leftover seeds from planting their own insecurities. I’m letting go of the ones who support negative competition, the holier-than-thou attitudes, and the ones who thrive on comparison. It’s time to say goodbye.
I’m learning to say goodbye to the negative perspectives I’ve held on to for way too long now. I’m letting go of the I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not from the right place or the right money or the right circumstances. My circumstances are as flexible as I am, and I’m ready to start stretching. I’m saying goodbye to the invisible anchors weighing me down because all I’ve ever needed to do was let go.
I’m learning to say goodbye to a comfortable lifestyle because it’s the one I’ve always known. I’m ready to say goodbye to the familiar and safe so that I can make room for the extraordinary and exhilarating. I’m learning to say goodbye to bad habits and limiting beliefs. I’m learning to say goodbye to everything and anything that is preventing me from living the life I want, which is the one I will only deserve upon actively pursuing it. I can’t actively pursue anything when my hands and heart are full of outdated crap.
I’m learning to say hello to a new way of life. A one in which I surrender to the worthwhile work of doing what it takes to love myself wholly. I’m learning to say hello to self-compassion in conjunction with the discipline it will take for me to achieve what I have always dreamed of. I’m learning to hold onto the right difficulties – the ones that make me grow instead of shrink. I’m ready to say hello to discomfort because I know it means that the old is being broken down to make room for the new to be built.
I’m learning to say goodbye to who I was, which is someone that held on to all the wrong things because I was scared. I’m so tired of being scared. Time is too expensive to spend it on that which isn’t serving me. It’s time for me to serve myself, which means saying goodbye to everything that is not truly and wholeheartedly me.
We all have a certain sense of self. We have an identity that we painted for ourselves. A bunch of labels we cling to. “I am this and I am that. I love this, I dislike this. I fear this. Oh, I wouldn’t do that.” And we keep repeating these things to ourselves until they stick, until we really construct an identity for ourselves, one that is predictable, because we ultimately want to feel comfortable. We want to feel safe. We want to know where to draw the lines.
However, oftentimes people start focusing too much on themselves, on the labels they put on themselves, on limiting beliefs, making them shrink day by day. While we all need an identity, because through it we perceive the world and contribute to it, I invite you to be more flexible and to afford to take a little more risk, which could involve shedding skin from time to time. We could afford to let go of past selves and reconstruct them over and over again.
You really are a project, and identity is quite a fluid thing. Who you are is truly endless, and when you dissolve the ego, you can begin to enjoy the freedom that comes with it. Say, for instance, you want to give a Ted Talk, but all you think of is how foolish you might look and how everyone will be so focused on you and will find it uninteresting and how it will end up being so embarrassing and the thought of it all frightens you so you choose to never give it a shot. In that moment, your ego wants to keep you safe within your comfort zone, and on top of that, you come to the conclusion that you will be a crappy public speaker.
But what if you decided not to give in? What if you decide to not be rigid, to float freely, to try those fearful things, those things you decided don’t fit you without ever really trying them? The things you see others doing despite the fear and the people they evolve into. People who dissolve their egos, who don’t always listen to it religiously, are more about living openly than focusing on being safe and perfect. And let me tell you, even if you get hurt or embarrassed here and there, it is nothing but an indication that you have tried and that is honorable.
In a world where everybody is actually focused on themselves, absorbed in their own head, thinking everyone is paying so much attention to them, perhaps we can conclude that we could afford to be a little less self-conscious and a little braver so that life could become a beautiful adventure rather than a prison disguised as a shelter.
Look, I get it. Some things in life are worth taking the time to think about. But relax, take it easy! Sometimes you need to let life work its magic. Here are a few methods that can help you to stop blaming yourself and overthinking about the little things in life.
1. Understand that there’s a flip side to everything.
Didn’t ace that midterm? Forgot to submit that one assignment? Missed the Zoom call with your fellow workmates? Don’t panic. Don’t blame yourself. Take a nice, slow breath and calm yourself down. It may not feel like it in the moment, but there’s always a flip side to everything. It’s okay if you didn’t ace that midterm. Now you can take that grade and learn from it. Instead of blaming yourself for the grade you got, teach yourself to use it to your advantage. Take the time to study smarter, not harder. Maybe that means changing your study habits. Take it easy on yourself! It’s okay if you forgot to submit your assignment. Instead of blaming yourself and putting yourself down because of it, use that mistake to your advantage. Whether that means putting an extra notification on your phone or decluttering your schedule or workplace, there’s always a flip side to everything. The same goes for missing Zoom calls with your workmates. Take the time to understand that everything happens (or doesn’t happen) for a reason and that we have to let life do its own thing every once in a while.
2. Let it go!
Okay, not like the song. By letting it go, I mean that if something doesn’t happen the way you envisioned it to, move on! It’s no use dwelling on what happened in the past or what went wrong. You cannot change the past, so the best thing to do is to move forward and learn from your mistakes. Trust me, this is a hard one to master, but it’ll be extremely helpful in the long run.
3. Remember that lifemust go on.
Listen, at some point, everybody has made a little event in their life way too important. Let’s go back to the scenario about missing your Zoom call with your fellow workmates. Before I even get into the topic itself, just remember that missing a Zoom call isn’t a life-or-death situation. Mistakes happen, so when they do happen, it’s better to embrace them and learn from them rather than dwell on them and overthink about what went wrong. Back to the topic! Missing a Zoom call with your workmates may feel like an extremely huge thing, but it’s not. It’s just a Zoom call! It’s okay to be bummed out about missing it, but don’t make the mistake of creating a huge scenario in your head when it really doesn’t have to be. Always remember that life must go on—it won’t wait for you to be ready. Instead of dwelling on the past and what could’ve happened, focus on the future and how you can be prepared for it.
Overthinking is part of human nature—everybody has done it at some point. Just remember to be kind to yourself. Never put yourself down or blame yourself over a small event that happened. Focus on the future and how to use your past mistakes to your advantage. Since the past cannot be changed, the better option is to be ready for the future and what’s to come. And remember, life is just an obstacle course—get through the obstacles to get your reward.
The things that break your heart give you clarity. They give you a new perspective on life, on people, on heartbreak and healing. The things that break your heart open up your eyes. They make you see things for what they really are, not how you want to see them. They make you see people without their false masks and personalities. They show you the truth and the truth always sets you free.
The things that break your heart teach you how to survive. They teach how to make it on your own. They teach you how to release any unhealthy attachments. They teach you how to pick someone out of love rather than loneliness. They teach you that some things are not meant for you no matter how much you want them and some people are not good for you no matter how much you believe in their potential. The things that break your heart give you faith because you know that God broke those things for a reason, you know that God removed certain people from your life because they weren’t going to bless it or bless you, they weren’t going to make your life any easier.
The things that break your heart bring you closer to yourself. They make you reflect on what you want and what your boundaries are. They give you answers about yourself and others. They give you guidelines for the future. They make you accept that heartbreak will always be a part of life but there’s something good that comes out of it. There’s always ‘good’ in goodbye. There’s always something rewarding after every loss. Sometimes you find yourself, sometimes you find someone better and sometimes you find God. In all cases, you win.
The things that break your heart will never truly end. People change, lovers come and go, friends leave, we lose our loved ones, life surprises us with tragedies but the one thing that will make a difference is how you respond to all of it. How well prepared you are for the chaos that follows. How you persevere and how you protect yourself from the internal damage these things can cause. How you piece yourself and your heart back together quickly so you can breathe again and go on with your life because a lot of things in life will try to destroy you but if you can stand on your own, no one will have the power to destroy you. If you can fight back, nothing can truly break you.
The things that break your heart can be a blessing or a curse and it’s up to you to choose which one you’ll take because if you can let heartbreak enlighten you instead of break you, if you can let it show you the light in the darkness instead of dampening your soul, you’ll always feel that even endings are blessings in disguise. You will always understand that God is saving you from something and leading you to something much better than what you left behind.
I know it doesn’t look like it right now but you can get through this. You can dig yourself out of this hole. One more time.
I know it doesn’t look like it right now but you will be able to walk with a smile on your face every morning again without thinking about the pain you’re enduring or the weight you’re lifting or the burdens you’re carrying.
I know it doesn’t look like it right now but God is listening, somehow, somewhere, he sees what you’re going through and he is not going to leave you in this mess alone. He won’t leave you unattended. He will not let your prayers go unanswered when he’s your only hope.
I know it doesn’t look like it right now but someone out there is making their way to you to make your life a little bit easier or carry some of your burdens with you. Someone out there wants to be by your side so you don’t have to face it all alone. Someone out there wants to make up for all the things that you were deprived of and all the people you lost. Someone out there wants to make you happy.
I know it doesn’t look like it right now but whatever is hurting you will soon just be a bad memory. Whatever you think you can’t get over, whatever you think you can’t replace and whatever you think you can’t handle won’t be a constant in your life. Maybe it’s been the same cycle or the same pattern, maybe it isn’t getting any better but it’s all about to end soon.
I know it doesn’t look like it right now but the things that aren’t making sense to you are about to form a certain picture that you can see clearly when the time is right. The dots are about to connect so you can solve the riddle. The closure is coming to you. The lesson is being learned. You’re on your way to better and bigger things.
I know it doesn’t look like it right now but you can still fight. One more time. You’re so close. Don’t give up now. It’s always the last key in the chain that opens the door and it’s always the hardest few seconds in the race that makes you a winner. It’s right before the happy ending that everything goes wrong so you can try to make it right. So you can safely say the worst is over and it can only get better from here. I know you’ve said and done it all before. But I need you to say it and do it all over again. You’re almost there. So believe and prevail. One last time.
Because the truth is we will all get our share of the good and the bad days. We will have our breakthroughs and our breakdowns. We will all get our twenty seconds of fame and glory and we will get our twenty seconds of misery and disappointment. We will all get our share of joy and sorrow but the trick is not to let our sorrow linger or let our joy delude us. The trick is to bounce back quicker than we fall and look forward to a brighter future instead of dwelling on a darker past. The trick is to keep believing that you’re stronger than your pain and you will surely, overcome it.
Trauma is sneaky in that it is subtle. It is so subtle, in fact, we can allow it to become normalized to the point that we forget it exists, until, of course, something triggers it and we are back at square one. Trauma is likewise not always what we think it might be — we’re all traumatized from a variety of experiences, ranging in intensity. These are a few of the signs that you’re beginning to process trauma that you didn’t even know you had.
1. You’re confused by your feelings.
It’s not just that you’re hyper-sensitive, it’s that you’re emotional in ways that just don’t quite make sense.
You might find yourself over or under-reacting to situations or world events. You might find yourself crying once an hour, or struggling to understand what you feel at all.
All of this is a symptom of a fundamental disconnect between you and your nervous system. In order to survive, you had to tune out your authentic feelings. Of course, this is unsustainable, so once you open yourself up to sensing them again, you’re met with an onslaught of confusion and out-of-place emotionality.
You need time to process.
Then, slowly, you need to reconnect with your ability to intuit your needs and wants.
2. You’re recalling memories you totally forgot about.
Memory suppression is another classic sign of trauma.
If you are suddenly remembering all of these experiences or instances you completely forgot about, chances are you were more traumatized by them than you think. You tuned them out in order to carry on, and now, you’re actually ready to unpack their significance in your life.
3. You’ve reached a peak of success or stability.
Though it seems counterintuitive, this is precisely the point at which most people begin emotionally unraveling.
This is simply because you are no longer just trying to survive. For a long time, your emotional health had to take a back seat while you struggled to find some stability. Now that you have it, those feelings are ready to be addressed so you can actually find fulfillment and growth.
4. You’re questioning your direction in life.
There’s a good chance that a lot of the decisions you made in your life were decided upon from a place of trauma.
You may very well look back and feel embarrassed or confused about why you dated someone, or posted something, or acted in one particular way or another.
Though you don’t need to guilt and shame yourself for your mistakes, this is actually a sign of growth. Recognizing that you behave differently today is actually a positive thing.
5. You’re experiencing an array of physical symptoms.
The tension in your shoulders and gut that you’ve had for as long as you can remember? It’s probably not unrelated to anxiety and trauma.
The same is true for a lot of “unexplainable” physical discomforts. Now, instead of just trying to treat the symptoms, you’re willing to address their causes.
6. You feel totally numbed out, or apathetic about other people’s suffering.
Ironically, many people who have suffered greatly can begin to feel apathetic about other people’s suffering simply because it’s too much of an emotional overload.
When this occurs, it’s not necessarily that you’re a bad person or that you’ve lost your empathy. It might just mean that you need to hold space for your own feelings, and process your own emotions, before you can offer the same to someone else.
7. You feel guilt or shame for no clear reason.
If the foundation of your self-worth is built on being overcorrected, judged, shamed and humiliated, you might still be carrying that around with you today.
If you feel guilty or embarrassed over innocuous things, or for no reason at all, it’s probably a past trauma that you’re still reacting to without realizing. You’re so scared of being made to feel that way again, you impose it on yourself so that nobody can hurt you first.
8. You feel as though your every move is being “watched,” judged, or evaluated by someone in a negative way.
This is another way that hypervigilance takes control of our lives.
Unable to recognize that we are no longer in danger, our bodies continue to respond as though a threat is imminent. This not only depletes our health and energy, it is the root of all traumatic experiences: an inability to discern that the event is over.
Practicing mindfulness and grounding techniques along with your other emotional processing work can be helpful for managing this.
9. You’re mentally foggy, and it’s hard to concentrate.
Yet again, your mind is overstimulated from trying to respond to too many things at once.
In this case, you have to remember that feelings aren’t always facts — they are valid experiences but don’t always say something accurate about who we are or what our future might be.
Similarly, the thoughts that we might get lost in are not always predictive or realistic. Sometimes, we are simply responding to out-of-control emotions and end up in a spiral that it’s hard to get out of.
10. You’re withdrawing from others.
While this isn’t sustainable long-term, sometimes, being alone is the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves.
When we remove ourselves from other people’s expectations and needs, we’re able to start responding to our own. We’re able to be more expressive about our emotions, and we’re also able to figure out who we are independent of who we imagine other people need us to be.
Being alone forever isn’t healthy, and connection is essential for us to thrive. But being alone for a while, and especially while you are healing, can be extremely powerful.
11. You’re questioning what you once thought to be true.
Your old belief system simply cannot carry you into this next phase of your life.
You’re ready to start pulling apart a lot of what you built as a response to your trauma, and as a way to survive.
You’re ready to build a new worldview that is more accurate, more realistic, and in which you are a capable and competent person capable of living a good life — no matter what is or isn’t in your past.