Tuesday, 9 November 2010

How to ‘Get Over It’

Image thanks to mjc rodez

Nowadays, it seems that we are constantly bombarded with pleas to just ‘get over it’; the ex, the bad grade, the failed interview, {insert lost opportunity here}. There is always that intimidating pressure hovering above us to move onwards; upwards; accept that that’s just the way the cookie crumbles...

But, we know, it isn’t always that easy, in fact rarely is it ever that easy. Often it can seem genuinely impossible to get over something that has deeply shaken us, or even seemingly cracked our foundations. The fact is, however, that eventually for our own wellbeing we do need to move on from these disasters. Whilst I won’t pretend there is ever a quick fix in getting over ‘it’ (whatever that ‘it’ may be), there are steps we can take to actively and consciously aid our own recovery. After all, in the absence of whatever it is we’ve lost; we need our own support more than ever.

Create powerful visualisations. I once had an awful waitressing job which I couldn’t stand. I’d always been a reliable employee, however, and did the right thing by giving my month’s notice before quitting. Depending on the final month’s pay for a trip to Australia, I was distraught when the manager asked that I leave straight away – there was absolutely no reason for this accept his own insecurities about having employees ‘no longer loyal to the company’ (as if I had ever really been!) I was livid. I kicked up a fuss and demanded that I be paid the month’s notice anyway which, naturally, was met with opposition. It was upsetting and challenging and hung over me for weeks; I tossed and turned at night worrying about it until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I knew it was right that I should get the money, but I had no experience with that type of thing. One night when I was going over and over the situation in my head, I suddenly felt totally exhausted by the worry, and decided I had to do something. My friend had recently been jokingly using the phrase ‘build a bridge and get over it’ so, in my partial-dream state of consciousness, I pictured an enormous bridge scaling far up into the clouds, rising up way beyond all my problems, and I walked across it. In the morning I woke up revived. I went to the restaurant and once again made a request for my money. I never got the full months pay, but I did get a weeks (which was roughly £150) and, more importantly, I didn’t let it drag me down: I got over it.

Visualisations like these really can have a huge impact upon how you feel about things. Another one I like to use is to imagine my whole life as one big tapestry, and that any problem I’m experiencing is merely a couple of stitches in that tapestry. I zoom out and see the beauty of the bigger picture, and all of a sudden my problem doesn’t way so heavily. Steal my visualisations or make up your own; perhaps your problems could be balloons which you let go of and allow to float away, as in the picture above. Close your eyes and picture them in vivid detail; act them out; really experience them, and see the results for yourself.

Take time to heal. If what you need to get over is bigger than a withheld pay check, you should still practice visualisations, but don’t be disheartened if the issue continues to play on your mind. Like physical wounds, emotional wounds take time to heal, so channel your energies into assisting that healing process. Get early nights; take long steamy baths; cry with friends; watch mood-boosting films; light candles and make a wish when you blow them out; practice Pilates or yoga; cook with your family; redecorate; in short, check in with yourself, treat and tend to yourself.

That said; healing doesn’t always have to be about you. A Romanian friend of mine recently told me that when a member of a Romanian family dies, the family give gifts to others. He described how a female neighbour had given him a pair of shoes when he was younger after she had lost her husband; the thought being that she believed her husband to be in heaven and hoped that he would also have shoes for his feet. To me, this is wonderfully revolutionary: the idea of extending kindness to those we still have in our lives in the place of simply mourning those we have lost. Give gifts or just bestow an act of kindness on those closest to you, and let that good feeling melt into the gap of whatever it is you have lost. It might take more than this to fill it, but you’ll be making a start.

Devise distractions. Often, getting over something comes down to one simple thing: a jolly good distraction. A new romance; an epic project; a career shift – there are many ways that we can distract ourselves from our common-catastrophes. Though, be warned: this isn’t sticking your head in the sand; that is never the right thing to do. This is simply allowing your attention to be diverted. If a problem needs to be dealt with, then you are better off practicing your visualisations and then just going ahead and dealing with it, rather than hoping it will disappear whilst you look the other way. However, if a problem has passed, and yet you still squirm to think about it, a distraction might be just what you need.

Weigh your distractions equally with the issue you are trying to get over: it’s no use going on a one week holiday to get over the breakdown of a seven year relationship, because it’s doubtful that you’ll really be healed. Consider instead placing something new and regular into your life, like those singing lessons you always promised yourself, or weekly volunteer work. This way you’ll add routine back into your life in place of the routine you’ve lost (but the week’s holiday might be an added bonus too!)

Write to cure. Sometimes it’s impossible to really get to grips with a problem within the confines of your mind. Talking with other people is great, and often an integral part of any healing process, but even this can be lead largely by the other party, and may not deal fully with all that you feel. Instead, take a quiet moment to yourself and write how you feel. Don’t censor yourself, just write. Don’t consign yourself to perfect syntax or grammar, just write. Don’t take time to wince, just write. Write and write until your hand aches and you collapse exhausted. Take a minute, and then read back over what you’ve written; it might be painful but this is one of the purest ways of revealing your innermost feelings. Warning: this won’t be a finite plan of attack, nor will it all necessarily be the absolute truth; this is unadulterated emotion spilling out of you, probably lacking in any reason whatsoever; that’s the beauty of it! Once it is out it is your job to apply the reason to it. You might like to hold on to the paper, but I often find it is too hard to ever revisit it, and rarely beneficial. For me it is usually more positive to destroy the paper in a conscious act of letting the problem go.

Believe that there is always an answer. I’m not asking you to be a pious Miss Fix-It, but imagine if your attitude was more can do than can’t: wouldn’t the world feel just that little bit more safe a place? Remember: you make solutions. If I spend an hour making a cake and then drop it on the floor, it is always I who decides what to do next; the solution doesn’t just appear from the ether. I can crumple and grieve, or I can empower myself to get out my mixing bowl and start all over again. Empower yourself by consciously creating solutions.

What are some of the ways you ‘get over it’?


Chelsea said...

Along the lines of writing it all out, for me it helps to make a voice recording of myself getting it all out. When I write, I automatically feel constrained by issues of grammar, of staying within the same train of thought rather than following ideas as they arrive and revisiting old ones in the middle of a sentence. As a tool for emotional healing, writing doesn't flow as well for me as just speaking. I use this technique both to speak of the pain that I'm feeling as well as to construct happiness records, where I just talk about how happy I am about something or someone.

mylifereinvented said...

Excellent post. Usually when I'm trying to let something go I talk about it even if it is just to my cats. The more I talk the less important it seems and the less I have to say until it finally bothers me no more.

Vanessa said...

Time to heal, to me, is the most important. People get so impatient with this step, but a lot of time it's the only thing that truly works.

flyingccarpet said...

Very useful tips! And actually, that is how I heal too. I take my time with it, and be consciously aware that I am the one who calls the shots. I tell myself that the only thing that's keeping me from being happy again is myself and my own thoughts. I then go for a walk, or a run or even a shopping spree! Just do anything that makes me happy. :)

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