Not stuck, forward

This one is about our mental health.

Last year I began my one-week rule. I give myself one week to be a mess after I experience heartache. To fall to pieces, eat crappy food, sob into the night, and obsess over the issue. I started this not to be hard on myself or deny my feelings. I needed a way to process painful events, without letting them take over huge chunks of my life. 

Sometimes it is a job loss. Going through a romantic breakup. There are friendships that end. A life-changing opportunity that slips by. Receiving bad health news. Messing up on an important mission. There are so many types of heartbreak. They differ in intensity and timing, but they all hurt so very much. This is how I get through it. 

By limiting myself to a week of anger and sadness, I go through the grief and embarrassment much quicker. Knowing that I have to get back to my old self in seven days, my outward expressions of pain have to show themselves immediately. There’s no slothing about for weeks while I go around in circles wondering what I could have done differently. There are no months of trying to figure out why a relationship or event illogically ended in catastrophe.

Instead, I give that confusion a window. Sometimes that window is enough time to figure out what happened and make changes so it doesn’t happen again. Other times, that window is just a time of self-pity and self-soothing. When that week ends, my feelings aren’t magically unhurt. I’m not peppy and blind to what happened. It’s simply a time to start moving forward. 

Dishes get washed and laundry gets done. The groceries in my basket are healthy and good for my body. There are no more long conversations with friends asking “why me?” When that ‘pick yourself up’ effort happens, a noticeable shift occurs. You start seeing new opportunities and reasons that you needed to go through that pain. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel gets so much closer.

Of course, there will still be sad and angry moments. Depending on how deep the wound is, coming out the other side can be a long turbulent road. Recognizing why feelings still hurt and giving yourself the grace to cry or yell about it, is important. Just try not to let yourself fall back into the hole. Make that deadline. One week. Know that you still might suffer and hurt after those seven days. But, beyond that point, you are back in control. Whoever or whatever happened no longer gets to take up your space and time. They don’t get to steal your peace and productivity. You are becoming stronger and learning a lesson from it. 

So, give that emotional suffering one week. Eat all the ice cream and run through all the “what ifs”. Then, start to let it go. That disaster doesn’t deserve your mental energy. Move forward and back to yourself.

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