One of the most common techniques to promote emotional healing is to seek counseling. While anyone who is struggling with suicidal ideation should absolutely see a counselor, virtually everyone can benefit from seeing a counselor at some point in their life. Gone are the days of assuming that seeing a therapist is reserved only for "crazy" people; now, scores of people -- from recovering addicts, to Hollywood celebrities, to your neighbor next door -- have found counseling to be helpful. After all, simply the act of having someone whose job it is to listen to your thoughts and feelings is awfully powerful, in and of itself.
If the cost of seeing a counselor is a challenge for you, you'll find there are likely resources in your own area that provide low-cost or free counseling. If you have trouble finding such a service, check online or contact a local state agency or nonprofit organization. While they may not provide counseling themselves, these types of agencies and organizations tend to the very familiar with the other resources in the area. A few phone calls may find you someone who can help tremendously in your emotional healing process.
Some people still struggle with the idea of counseling because they may still retain some type of stigma with the concept. Or, more frequently, it may be that some people are hesitant to seek counseling because they're concerned that other people in their lives, such as a boss, parent, spouse, or other individual will be displeased with them, or even discriminate against them. However, it is illegal for a person to lose their employment simply for seeking mental health care. If the issue is telling a family member or friend, consider whether or not they need to know that you are seeking counseling. Obviously, if you live with the person it is more practical to share this with them; but if you believe it will cause more harm than good to share the information, you can feel free to keep it to yourself.
If you begin to see a counselor, or are referred by your doctor to a psychiatrist, someone may recommend medication for you. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are a very common treatment and a recommendation for them should not be construed as a judgment about your mental health.Taking a mental health-related prescription is usually a temporary aid. Sometimes, it is possible that while you pursue your emotional healing through positive techniques, psychological and physiological patterns may be working against you. In these cases, which are very common, antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication may simply quiet the overwhelming feelings for a while, allowing you to pursue your emotional healing (but will then allow you to stop using the medication).
That said, these medications should be considered critically, just as you would any other medication. Your doctor or psychiatrist must know all of the other prescriptions and natural supplements you may be taking to ensure your new prescription will be safe for you. Only take any medication as prescribed and do not stop taking medication without discussing it first with your doctor; many antidepressants must be weaned in order to ensure a smooth discontinuation. There will likely be side effects of these types of medications; if you find that any particular prescription is producing side effects that are unsafe, or creating a significant challenge to your everyday life, discuss it with your doctor. He or she will likely be able to find a better fit for you; it just may take trying a few different pills to find the right one.
As we continue exploring various methods and techniques to promote emotional healing, it is important to have realistic expectations. Depending on various circumstances, as well as personal issues, emotional healing can take a very long time. While these techniques can be helpful in speeding up the process somewhat, they're really best understood as a method by which to create more positive and more thorough emotional healing. Traditional techniques, such as counseling, are excellent ways to promote healthy emotional healing; if you feel you need a counselor, or are struggling with suicidal ideation.
One of the most common techniques used to promote emotional healing is journaling.There is a certain element of writing down all of your thoughts and feelings -- without editing yourself - that can provide an emotional release, as well as clarity and practical use. Many people find that keeping a journal on their own is sufficient, taking time on a daily basis (or even several times a day), to write down whatever they have been thinking, feeling, or experiencing that day. Most people discover they end up having much more to write than they anticipate when they first begin journaling.
If, however, you find out that you have difficulty expressing your feelings and thoughts, or even thinking of what you want to write, consider a guided journal. There are guided journals available to address many specific emotional traumas and losses. There are also ways of purchasing or creating a more general guided journal. If you can't find one for purchase that interests you, consider buying a blank journal, then finding probative questions online and using those as writing prompts.
There are only two rules for journaling your way through an emotional loss: First, your journal should not be available to anyone else for reading. In fact, you may find that your journal can be the most beneficial for you if you yourself don't even read it, releasing the emotions as you write them out; whether or not you do this is up to you. But in almost every circumstance, it is vital that you feel protected and safe to write all of your thoughts and feelings down, so no one else should have access to it. Secondly, as previously mentioned, do not edit yourself when you write in your journal. There is no wrong way to grieve an emotional loss -- there are only healthy and unhealthy ways. By journaling, you are already pursuing healthy emotional recovery; any of your thoughts and feelings should be put into your journal without hesitation. If you ignore the way you think or feel about a situation, especially one related to any emotional stress or trauma, it will only become unhealthy for you. It is better to a purge even those thoughts and feelings that you may feel are wrong.
A variation of journaling, which many find can be tremendously helpful, is writing letters.Various types of letters can be helpful in the emotional healing process.There are four main categories of letters that you may find beneficial to write:
- Letters to your childhood self - The emotional healing we're trying to achieve may often stem from trauma, abuse, or a lack of emotional health and supporting relationships from our childhood. In fact, even recent experiences or hurts may remind us of trouble in our childhood, and many cases of emotional maladjustment stem from a lack of some emotional stability and support in our formative years. When you write a letter to your childhood self, you are able to better understand and explain situations and circumstances than you were as a child. In this way, you can provide emotional guidance and support to the parts of you that are still hurting from that time period. It can also help you better establish your adult thoughts and feelings as separate from those of your childhood, empowering you to emotionally heal better and more thoroughly.
- Letters to your future self - In addition to letters to your childhood self, you may find it beneficial during the later aspects of your emotional healing to write letters to your future self. More accurately, you'll be writing letters to who you want to be in the future, when you are a well-adjusted, emotionally healthy and healed individual. When you write these letters, consider the feelings and thoughts you want to have in the future; describe in detail the way you want to feel about yourself, your life, and the people or situations that have caused you pain.You can also explore in your letter some practical aspects of what you want to be, if this will help you better imagine your life as an emotionally healthy and healed individual.
- Letters to others (that will never be sent) - When we write letters to other people, especially letters that will never be sent or read by anyone else, we can be free to express ourselves honestly. We are able to purge ourselves of all the things we normally must hold back -- all the things we normally would abstain from saying, because they might be hurtful, or because we have discerned them more potentially harmful than good. Also, we are able to emote more purely; we are not held back by our reasonable and rational thought, rather we allow ourselves to express all of the pain, resentment, and other negative emotions we have been healing from. For some, burning such a letter as a symbolic gesture may be helpful; others simply toss the letter away. Most of all, understand that you don't need to keep the letter, as the process is designed to purge, not retain, these feelings. And, after all, you may not want them to be around for someone else to get their hands on, so at the very least you will likely want to throw them out.
- Letters to others (that will be sent) - Obviously, these letters will be very different in content from the letters that are never sent. Nevertheless, they can be just as important of a part of emotional healing. Letters to others that may be sent are usually reserved for the later phases of emotional healing. Although these letters will include some information about your feelings, the main focus of the letter is not to purge your emotions. Rather, these letters are for moving forward in our relationships and our emotional growth.
Think of these letters in two parts: the part where you express (in a productive and meaningful way) your feelings, and the part where you communicate (in a respectful manner) what you would like from a person who will receive the letter (or any new boundaries you may be creating). Many people, especially when discussing something that has caused them emotional trauma, have difficulty clearly explaining their feelings and expectations with the person that hurt them; this difficulty is usually extremely heightened when it occurs in a face-to-face conversation. Writing a letter, however, allows you as much time as you may need, as well as the ability to not have to hear what the other person has to say at that moment. Ideally, these letters should be sent via snail mail, rather than in e-mail, as you are more likely to write it and send it prior to significant contemplation via Internet. Because these letters will be read by the people who matter to you, it is important that you have plenty of time to read, a review, and evaluate the letter before you send it.