Unhealed trauma impacts your health, your sleep…your overall wellbeing. You begin to walk with trauma coloured spectacles that dictate your vision, judgement and reactions. Place and trauma usually go hand in hand, whether the trauma is inflicted emotionally or physically. As you trust for a door out, begin to slowly but intentionally build strength and belief in the reality of a new beginning. One day the exit door will be presented and you will have gathered strength to step through it.
When the opportunity to move from the trauma filled area or people group is presented, it may look risky, uncomfortable, unknown. But your life depends on it. Move. Continued exposure to trauma will affect your emotional, mental and eventually…your physical health. Whether it’s a toxic boss or work place, marriage, family members, neighbourhod…you name it, it’s impacting your core…your identity.
So what do you do if you cannot move right away? Equip yourself. Seek to heal, seek to grow. Below are some tit bits that have helped me in my journey:
Inner healing and emotional wellness: This is you taking responsibility of the state your soul. Ignoring the “inner stuff” will lead to you imploding or exploding, either one is messy. Whether you choose to go away on a course, retreat or do online learning and self-care, you must begin this journey. Basic inner healing and emotional wellness tools are:
- Forgiveness: Intentionally practicing forgiveness so YOUR soul is healed as the rest sort their stuff out is paramount. Unfortunately, forgiveness and healing go hand in hand. You forgiving doesn’t mean trusting them. It means emptying out the toxic bucket of hatred, confusion, anger, bitterness, condemnation and saying….I forgive you and you will not keep me bitter and beaten. It leads to a “lighter” lifestyle as you begin to see the sun rays pierce through the dark clouds once again. Also remember to forgive yourself where you made a mess or partook of the toxicity laid before you. Be gentle on your heart, it fights many wars you know not of.
- Boundaries: learning how to implement healthy boundaries is a game changer. You take authority over who has access to you. Acknowledging that the person or place is unsafe, creating a “modus operandi” to keep you as safe and healthy as possible is a must. You are not a victim but a victor and wisdom is key here. I have learnt to detach my emotions from unsafe people. People who will assault your soul with words, actions and even…thoughts that pierce through and hit you. Emotionally disconnecting from abusers and emotionally unstable souls that look to destabilize other souls (mostly unconsciously) will help you keep as much of your peace as possible in that space and time. I guard my turf like a fierce lion because my peace is life. If I have to deal with toxic and highly critical people, it’s probably due to work obligations as they are not in my inner circle anymore. So, official phone calls are full of love from my end but brief and to the point. Coffees and lunches are brief and to the point. Any interaction is based on the goal of the task at hand. I got out of the people pleasing and naïve habit of petting snakes. They bite. We all have family members and colleagues who are simply not safe to be exposed to for prolonged periods of time. Begin to emotionally distance your heart as you aim for physical distance in the near future. As much as you may love the person or place, you cannot fix them. You can only fix you and work on being a better, healthier, more real and healed version of you every day.
- Safe spaces: By now you probably know your “safe spaces”. When I was working in a toxic environment my safe space was my car, so I treasured my break times. Empower and enhance these safe spaces by not only escaping to them and taking a huge breathe of fresh air, but also using the time and space to process your feelings, emotions, thoughts and begin weaving in hope and peace through uplifting content. Your safe space becomes a healing space too. you can begin a gratitude minute, one-minute prayer, listen to a podcast on healing, journal etc…
- Intentionally practice self-care!: Get time out to rest and rejuvenate. Whether that’s leaving the toxic home and going for a coffee, going to a friend’s house, booking a retreat, doing your hair…whatever self-care looks like to you, weave it into your lifestyle. No one else will. It will keep you from sinking into isolation and depression. Get out and do something away from the toxic place and people. One of my favorite things to do was drive alone with some music to a coffee shop sit and journal or just be as I exhale the negativity and inhale new life.
- Get support: whether online or in person, whether one person or a group/community to come alongside. Doing this alone is hard and extremely dangerous. We are relational and interdependent beings. Professional help is a good and necessary option too. I have taken a variety courses (online and in person), joined healing and prayer groups and even uprooted and moved countries to fight for my peace, healing and growth. Yes, some moves are drastic as you leave whole territories to get some perspective, rest and healing. You do you! Get what you need! Rarely will it be served up to you. Your soul has already been drawing you to the solutions that will work for you. Now take them.
- Safely plan your exit: Literally envision your exist and then begin to plan it with safe friends or counsellors who will honour your plans and confidentiality. This isn’t day dreaming or wishful thinking but rather allowing your mind to perceive that there is something coming that is better, fresher, newer and beginning to work towards it. As they say, “You’re not a tree, you can move”. Begin to believe you can and you will. Just because you grew roots there doesn’t mean you have to stay there.
God will lead you to a door but only you can open and step through it. I do know of situations where he yanks you across because all feasible strength within is depleted but more often than not, the choice will be yours. Free will.
Remember, as you learn to go against your learnt behavior and “beliefs”, you relearn truth and identity. You relearn what safe looks and feel like. So;
Be everything you think you can’t be in this moment. Your future you awaits you and thanks you in advance