Being an expert in happiness doesn’t mean that I’m feeling happy all of the time, and in fact just a few years ago I found myself in a very low, dark, place and space, feeling like a fraud as a positive psychologist who just wasn’t feeling positive at all.
It’s a common misconception that positive psychology is all about positive thinking and affirmations… (we absolutely LOVE that stuff, but pospsych is so much more…)
There’s immense value in the hard times, too, and raising your awareness to begin to uncover the learnings, lessons, and blessings within your challenges, which really allow you to grow.
Use these 10 top tips to help you heal from previous stressful situations:
1. Own Up To The Struggle – The very first step is to begin to understand where you have experienced stress, struggle, or trauma in the past, and get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable for a little while whilst you work through it. I repressed my experience of having been raped for years, as many people do, before it came back to me with a bang, in the form of flashbacks which made me face up to what I had been ignoring for so long. When you choose to face up to the things that have caused you pain in the past, you’re taking charge and allowing yourself a new opportunity to heal and grow.
2. Honor The Process – Understand that there will be ups and downs within your process, and that’s okay. When you go into something with the expectation of it being easy then it’s more likely you’ll feel confused or disappointed when things get a bit tough. Know that through your struggle you’ll find your strength, and remember to hold the vision, trust the process, and know you’ll come out shining.
3. Go Within – Take some time and space for yourself to get connected and go inward with yourself. Meditation is a great tool for calming your mind and allowing stressful or repeating distracting and disruptive thoughts to leave you. Put your faith in your practice and know you are always supported when you act with intention and do the work.
4. Illuminate the learning – Where have you learned something about yourself through your stressful times? When you look for the learning, it’s much easier to allow yourself to heal, because you start to understand that even the stressful experiences are always serving your growth.
5. Value the growth – How has your experience allowed you to grow into the next best version of you? How might you still be growing into that person today? Really understand the true power of your experience in making you more resilient with an ability to be a bigger person. Even if you have experienced immense trauma, the human spirit and mind can go on to not just return to your baseline state, but can also go beyond your previous norm to flourish. It’s called post traumatic growth.
6. Consider where you are stronger – Because you have gone through stressful times, you now have a deeper well of resources from which to use and teach. I know I’m much more able to coach my clients having experienced struggle and adversity myself, because I know it’s possible to come out of the other side even happier than before. Get mindful about where you are stronger, and what characteristics or behaviours you have positively developed as a result of your previous stressful situation.
7. Choose to let go – It’s very easy to cling on to the past, and it can be a challenge to forgive and let go. I promise you though, when you do, you’ll feel lighter, brighter, and more fulfilled. You’ll also have more headspace to welcome in all that’s new and good and on it’s way to you. Forgiveness is nothing to do with healing the other person… it’s all about allowing you to let go of toxic emotions and thought patterns, to focus on healing you.
8. Focus on what’s good – Where can you channel your attention and intention towards something that feels energising and filled with joy? Re-aligning yourself with what’s good and what makes you feel good in this way, can help you to keep making progress and create positive change. Do something today just for the joy and fun of it. I give you permission.
9. Get grateful – This step might seem a little stretchy for you right Now, but it’s more than worth it when you experience the results. Find gratitude for all you are and all that you have, and even for your stressful experiences. When you know they have been supporting your highest expansion and good all along, its much easier to give thanks for them.
10. Move forwards – Make a plan for your best possible version of your future. Take an action step in the direction of your vision, and know that when you do the work to heal yourself, you will always be supported on your way. Get expansive about how you see yourself as your best possible self in the future, and get excited about what’s possible Now.
Niyc Pidgeon is a Positive Psychologist, Success Coach, and Best Selling Author of Now Is Your Chance, a 30-Day Guide To Living Your Happiest Life Using Positive Psychology, published with Hay House.