3 Reasons Why You Haven’t Moved On
People say the funniest things. Whether we are talking about anxiety and worry, depression, grief and loss or trauma – the goal is to move on and heal. Right? No one wants to be stuck in the past. But moving on and healing from pain isn’t always straight forward.
Has anyone ever asked you, “Why aren’t you over that yet?” Did a loved one (or complete stranger) ever imply that time will heal your wounds and you need to be patient? Is it confusing why your pain has lingered when you know that, “It wasn’t my fault” or “They are in a better place now”? Perhaps you yourself have wondered:
● How can I move on?
● What will it take to get closure?
● Why am I still triggered?
● When will I feel better?
Many of these questions stem from that same feeling of urgency or exhaustion that comes with wanting to heal from a trauma and PTSD, loss or another painful event. In today’s blog you’ll learn about why you might be stuck and what you can do about it.
A PTSD and Grief Healing Process In Three Parts – Let’s Go!
So why haven’t you moved on? My response is a simple three part answer: head, heart, body. Let me explain. The difficult experiences you’ve had are stored in three different ways.They are stored in your brain in the form of thoughts, beliefs and memories (e.g. mental pictures). They are also stored in your emotional heart in the form of feelings. And they are stored in your body, your physical nervous system as sensations.
Body Memories, Emotional Overwhelm and Anxious Thoughts, Oh My!
The experience of not being “over it” is often caused by these three parts (your head, heart, body) NOT moving on at the same time. This is normal. It’s part of being human.
● You can have the thought in your brain, “That wasn’t my fault” and still have feelings of guilt or responsibility.
● You can know logically, “It was for the best” but still feel sad or angry.
● Your body can be exhausted and ready for sleep but your mind can be preoccupied with questions like, “Why did this happen?” or “Could I have done something?”
● You can be fully committed to a positive decision and excited to get started but sense your stomach flip flopping with tension.
How To Move On From Grief And Pain
Sound familiar? You’re not alone! So what can you do about it? The key to recovery is to be patient with all these areas: head, heart and body. The first step is to explore how you cope and then have outlets for each part. These parts all express themselves differently and have unique needs. You’ll want to explore what feels good to you and be open to new ways of supporting yourself.
Dealing With Anxious Thoughts and Overthinking
For your head there are a few different options to work through anxious thoughts and painful memories. If you are feeling shame and guilt it can be especially important to share your thoughts with a trusted person; the shame and guilt can cause you to feel embarrassed but that’s just a symptom to work through.
Other ways to deal with anxious thoughts, negative self–talk, painful memories and overthinking
● Allowing yourself to talk with trusted, supportive friend of family member
● Speaking out loud to yourself (this is great while you’re walking or hiking)
● Listing or making a timeline
● Sharing your thoughts and memories with a safe person, like a therapist
How To Feel Grief, Anxiety and Difficult Feelings
If I’m being honest, this is one that many of us would rather avoid. We don’t want the mess of tears. We’re afraid of what will happen if we get angry. What if we can’t make the feelings stop and we fall into a black hole? This is where therapy can be really helpful. We can teach you tools for “emotional regulation.” Emotional regulation is knowing how to experience your feelings so they don’t become too overwhelming but you also aren’t avoiding them.
If you aren’t ready for therapy yet then here are some steps you can take on your own:
● Set aside time to feel your emotions by creating private, quiet moments
● Journaling slowly and mindfully
● Breath work to help you deal with especially powerful emotions that can cause breathlessness or tension
● Listen to a guided meditation about emotions and mindfulness (there are a lot of options on YouTube plus free apps or podcasts to support you with this)
Anxiety Attacks And Stressed Out Bodies
Finally, we cannot ignore our bodies in this process. If you’ve ever been stressed and over eaten, forgotten to eat or lost your appetite… That is your body talking to you! If you’ve ever struggled to sleep or woken in the middle of the night distressed, again your body is talking to you. If you support your body in this process it will speed and encourage your healing.
There are a lot of different ways to support your body and you’ll want to pay attention to what feels good and productive to you. You can support your body through:
● Exercise and movement (cardio, stretching, walking, dancing, etc)
● Sleep and naps (use guided meditations to help with falling asleep)
● Energy work
● Crying and laughing (music and movies are great for inducing tears or laughter)
● Spending time outside in nature
Getting Therapy For Anxiety, Depression, PTSD and Grief / Loss
Sometimes we do just need time. We need some physical and energetic space from the problem so we can look back and see the situation with a new clarity or perspective. And, it can literally take time to adjust our lifestyle. Be patient and explore new ways for your head / heart / to work through the experience.
There may come a time when you know that going through this alone is not working. Even if you have the support of a spouse, parent or friend it may not be enough. Everyone has a different timeline for when they are ready to start counseling for depression, anxiety, PTSD or grief and loss.
A counselor does more than just listen. A licensed therapist can assist your healing through methods like EMDR therapy, IFS therapy and other methods that incorporate a focus on your whole Self.
Our team of therapists in St. George UT has openings and would love to assist you as you work through this time in your life. It’s never too late and no pain is too small. You deserve to live a fulfilling, adventurous life. We can help you take the next step forward. It’s easy to book a free 15-minute consultation to learn more and see if counseling is right for you. We’ll answer all your questions and give you all the information you need to make a decision for yourself.