This week my Positive Thursday message is about dealing with pain and sadness.
1. Talk to someone outside of your situation:
Pour out your heart to them about what you’re going through. Speaking to a counselor was one key way that I learned to process what was going on and take proactive steps to moving forward with life after the shocking and terrible death. My counselor didn’t know my friend and wasn’t one of my peers and he was able to offer me advice that gave me a much-needed perspective.
2. Rest, relax, refuel, recharge:
Give your body, soul and mind time to process and heal. We live in a world that is go, go, go — but it’s vital to take time to step back from your situation and give yourself the R&R you need. Take time to simply be…rather than always being on the go.
3. Don’t force yourself to do or feel anything specific:
I was focused on maintaining my perky and cheerful self after my friend passed away and it took me much longer to accept what had happened. Not good. A surefire way to get stuck in a sad situation is to pretend like everything is normal. What happened is a BIG DEAL. You don’t have to proceed as you normally do. Give yourself a little leeway for your emotions and thoughts to catch up to the moment.
4. Everyone processes pain in very different ways:
You will process pain in a different way than your friends, parents, siblings, everyone. We are all unique individuals. Don’t get upset with other people when they don’t process pain like you do; don’t get upset with yourself when you don’t process pain like someone else.
5. Surround yourself with people who are simply there to listen, love:
The people who love you unconditionally are the ones that will make hard times even a little bit easier. I didn’t even have to talk to my mom — she just sat there and listened and held me. Instead of being alone, spend time with people that are always there for you to shower you with love and encouragement.
6. Find something to do:
Think about other things! The wonderful advice I was given was to pinpoint one thing to do every time I felt sad or upset. I began running whenever I feel weepy or hurt or confused and in time, this activity became a way for me to rebuild my strength (emotionally, mentally and physically of course!).
7. Don’t get over it, but grow:
You won’t wake up one day and then SNAP* everything is back to normal. You won’t immediately just feel happy and wonderful and all thoughts of sadness will disappear. Instead of pushing yourself to “get over” what happened, channel that energy into personal growth. This is a process, not a quick fix.
8. Learn to be ruled by peace, rather than anger, sadness or confusion:
I’ll never know the answer to why my friend Jeff committed suicide. Being ruled and overwhelmed by thoughts of anger and confusion does not answer the “Why?” question or make moving forward any easier. Being ruled by peace, on the other hand, provides relief. Peace for me is when my body, mind and heart are calm and at rest. It’s being undisturbed by what is going on in the given moment. A key step in overcoming a struggle is simply trusting you will be okay.
9. Appreciate the moment you’re in and the people you are with:
It sounds cliche, but you really don’t know what will happen later today or tomorrow. Appreciate and soak up the moment you are in and the people you are with. Spend time with people who make you happy — and thank them for being such a lovely contribution to your life. Embrace their presence!
10. Do something:
Unfortunately, suicide wasn’t just a problem six years ago when I was in high school. It’s still a huge issue; too many teens are taking their lives because they feel like they have no other choice, too many people are left behind asking why, too many people are depressed and getting the help they need. To put things in perspective, in the past 40 years, suicide rates for Americans ages 15-24 has tripled, while the overall U.S. population suicide rate has remained constant. WOW. Here’s what you can do: donate to organizations like Suicide Prevention Action Network, consider being a mentor to a local teen in a troubled situation or most importantly, always stay aware of suicidal warning signs. If you ever question whether a friend or family member is depressed, ask questions and get them help.