Everyone on planet earth has endured some of life’s hurts and heartaches. And chances are that the longer we’ve lived, the more emotional scars we have to show. Hurts come in a variety of ways: a broken relationship, betrayal, job loss, or death of a loved one.
Being single, of course, brings its own hurts as you risk vulnerability in the search for love. Whatever the cause, you can move from hurt to healing and, in the process, gain a deeper understanding of yourself and life. Here’s how to get started:
1. Throw out your timetable. People have become accustomed to instant solutions. But healing a hurting heart can’t be rushed. True healing takes as long as it needs to take.
2. Choose wisely. When in pain, it’s easy to make choices that ultimately make things worse (drinking too much, isolating yourself, binge eating). Determine to make choices that will promote your well-being, not undermine it.
3. Talk it out. Whether with a therapist, spiritual advisor, or trusted friend, putting your feelings into words will foster healing.
4. Forgive if you need to. Healing happens within you as you release any festering anger and resentment.
5. Change what you can. Sometimes progress is made when you take practical steps, such as writing a letter, joining a support group, or confronting someone who has hurt you.
6. Accept what you can’t change. Battling against “what could have been” and “the way it should be” will accomplish nothing. Acceptance of things beyond your control will move you toward healing.
7. Lean on trusted friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for support and encouragement. That’s what real friends are for—and you’ll surely have the chance to return the favor at some point.
8. Find strength in your faith. Spiritual activities that are meaningful to you—such as praying, meditating, or going to church—will provide solace.
9. Expect to ride the waves. You’ve heard it said that pain and grief come in waves as you continue to slowly make progress. It’s true–grief reappears in random moments, especially when memories are triggered by sensory associations (sights, smells, sounds).
10. Move toward it, not away from it. In other words, avoiding pain or seeking quick fixes will only prolong the process. It’s a fact of life that healing happens when we go through the grieving process and not around it.
11. Seek ways to replenish. Feeling hurt depletes us emotionally, so actively pursue activities that will restore your strength and joy.
12. Surround yourself with accepting people (while avoiding advice-givers). Gracious, loving people will help you to be gracious and loving toward yourself amid your painful situation.
13. Express yourself creatively. Many people find it helpful to process emotions through art—writing, painting, sculpting, or sketching. Let creative activities facilitate your healing.
14. Think back so you can look ahead. Review your history and gain courage from the times you have overcome hardships.
15. Remain open to illumination. Psychologists and spiritual guides tell us that we learn most when going through painful experiences. As the thirteenth-century poet Rumi wrote, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” The essential element of moving from hurt to healing is being open to the life lessons that pain teaches us.