Moving through life means taking on challenges, some of which leave lasting scars on our psyche. Healing from trauma and working on building positive mental health is a courageous journey that takes time and effort. It is far from easy, but it is one of the most powerful ways you can take back control. The process may seem daunting at first, but with self-compassion and the right tools, anyone can embark on a path toward healing. In this blog, we explore steps to begin a healing journey, with a focus on healing trauma and nurturing mental health.
What Is A Healing Journey?
A healing journey is a deeply personal and transformative process of addressing and overcoming emotional wounds and trauma that have left a lasting impact on you. A true healing journey involves navigating the terrain of your past experiences, emotions, and beliefs to create a healthier, more successful future.
This kind of journey is not a destination; it’s a continuous process of growth and self-discovery. It involves acknowledging and facing the pain and vulnerabilities that may have been buried or ignored. Studies have shown how vastly detrimental it is to the human brain to not address past traumas, making it critical to address these hardships. By engaging in this process, you create an opportunity to release pent-up emotions, reframe negative thought patterns, and ultimately, find a sense of relief.
Peeling Back Layers
Healing from past trauma requires delving into your experiences and emotions, one layer at a time. It’s about unearthing the root causes of your pain and gradually working through them. This process can be both empowering and challenging, as it necessitates confronting memories and feelings that you may have been avoiding. Some therapists utilize a tactic called EMDR, which allows patients to tap into memories or experiences and reprocess them more healthily. Aside from this technique, there are many other methods, like cognitive behavioral therapy, that allow you to slowly address traumas safely.
Part of the healing journey involves recognizing patterns that may have developed as a result of past trauma. These patterns can manifest in relationships, behaviors, and reactions, whether a person can notice them or not. Identifying these patterns is a necessary step toward breaking free from their grip and creating new, healthier ways of interacting with yourself and others.
Embracing Growth and Transformation
Healing is synonymous with growth and transformation. As you progress on your healing journey, you are likely to begin to witness positive changes in your mindset and emotional responses. Embracing this transformation empowers you to step into your authentic self and reclaim the parts of you that may have been overshadowed by trauma.
Rewriting Your Narrative
Trauma and challenges can shape the narratives we hold about ourselves and the world. A study done by the Canadian Institute for Health Research highlighted those who endure trauma are likely to have a negative self-view and core beliefs. The healing journey allows you to rewrite these narratives, replacing self-limiting beliefs with empowering ones. It’s a chance to reshape your story, focusing on strength and the capacity to overcome adversity.
Healing isn’t about erasing the past; it’s about learning to carry your experiences with you in a way that doesn’t hinder your progress. Through healing, you cultivate resilience – the ability to bounce back from setbacks and face future challenges with a newfound sense of strength and wisdom.
Connection and Empathy
The healing journey often connects you to a deeper sense of empathy – both for yourself and others who have faced similar struggles. This empathy can lead to a greater sense of compassion and understanding, not only for your journey but also for the diverse paths others are navigating.
In a healing journey, it’s essential to embrace imperfection. Healing is not linear, and there will be moments of regression or difficulty. These moments are natural and can provide valuable insights into areas that still need attention. Embracing imperfection also means letting go of the unrealistic expectation that you must have it all figured out – it’s perfectly okay to be a work in progress.
Acknowledge the Wounds
The first step towards healing is acknowledging the wounds that need attention. Trauma can manifest in various ways – emotional, psychological, or physical. By recognizing and accepting the pain, you lay the foundation for genuine healing. This process requires self-compassion; remember that acknowledging your wounds is an act of strength, not weakness.
8 Steps To Begin
1. Get Specialized Help: While embarking on a healing journey, it’s essential to seek support from qualified professionals. Therapists, psychologists, or counselors are trained to guide you through the intricate process of healing trauma. They provide a safe space for you to express your emotions, unravel your experiences, and learn coping strategies tailored to your needs.
2. Try Out Different Healing Modalities: Healing is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Exploring various healing modalities can help you discover what resonates with you. Traditional talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, mindfulness, art therapy, and somatic experiencing are just a few options. Each modality offers unique tools to address different aspects of trauma and mental health.
3. Mindfulness and Self-Compassion: Mindfulness is a powerful tool that enables you to stay present in the moment without judgment. Learning to observe your thoughts and feelings without attachment can create a space for healing to occur. Self-compassion, too, is crucial – treat yourself with the same kindness you would offer a friend. Self-compassion helps counteract self-criticism, fostering a nurturing environment for healing.
4. Build a Supportive Network Around You: Surrounding yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, or support groups can provide an essential source of encouragement and understanding. Sharing your experiences with others who empathize can be validating and help you realize you’re not alone on this journey.
5. Create a Self-Care Routine: Self-care is not selfish; it’s an act of self-love. Nurturing your body, mind, and soul through activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and rejuvenation is vital. Establishing a self-care routine can help restore balance and resilience.
6. Practice Gratitude Daily: Cultivating gratitude shifts your focus from what’s wrong to what’s right in your life. Even during challenging times, there are small moments of beauty and goodness. Practicing gratitude regularly can rewire your brain to notice the positives and foster a more optimistic outlook.
7. Set Firm Boundaries: Healthy boundaries are an essential part of healing. In many cases, what we are working to heal from is a result of a lack of boundaries. Learning to say no and prioritize yourself helps create a safe space where you can focus on your healing journey without being overwhelmed by external demands.
8. Patience and Persistence: Healing is not a linear process; it’s a task filled with twists and turns. Be patient with yourself and celebrate every feat along the way. There may be setbacks, and healing does take time. Persevering through difficult moments will allow you to emerge stronger and more resilient, improving all aspects of life.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you find in your healing journey you are struggling with excessive worry, anxiety, depression, or trauma, New Dimensions can help. We provide treatment to address mental health and substance abuse issues with Intensive Outpatient Programs and Partial Hospitalization Programs for adolescents and adults. To learn more about our treatment programs, visit our website at www.nddtreatment.com or contact us at 800-685-9796. To learn more about individual, family, and couples counseling visit www.mhthrive.com.
- Lanius RA, Terpou BA, McKinnon MC. The sense of self in the aftermath of trauma: lessons from the default mode network in posttraumatic stress disorder. Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2020 Oct 23;11(1):1807703. doi: 10.1080/20008198.2020.1807703. PMID: 33178406; PMCID: PMC7594748.
- Saint Arnault D, Sinko L. Hope and Fulfillment After Complex Trauma: Using Mixed Methods to Understand Healing. Front Psychol. 2019 Sep 20;10:2061. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02061. PMID: 31616333; PMCID: PMC6764148.
- Scott JG, Warber SL, Dieppe P, Jones D, Stange KC. Healing journey: a qualitative analysis of the healing experiences of Americans suffering from trauma and illness. BMJ Open. 2017 Sep 13;7(8):e016771. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016771. PMID: 28903969; PMCID: PMC5629625.