This topic is one that could take up several pages, but I will do my best to address it here in my column. The pain of loss can create a void that we at-tempt to fill with many unhealthy things or behaviors. For some people they hide it under a veneer of showiness and try to look cool. They dress to impress and get into serious debt just to make it look like they are happy, when in reality, their hearts are breaking. Suffering a loss is always followed by the stages of grief and it is critical that we allow ourselves to go through each of those stages in order to come out of it in a healthy and whole state of being. Here are a few tips:
1 Identify what you're using to try to fill the void.
For some people this could be alcohol, illegal drugs, or even prescription drugs to try to make his or her self feel better. Some people eat and eat to get that feeling of comfort. Some people use entertainment as their drug of choice or sex. The point is, all those external things may feel like they temporarily fill the void, but once they are gone, you realize it‘s still there.
2 Realize that you're good enough
No matter what you're using to try to fill the void - what you need to hear right now is - you do not need that stuff. You really don't need it to feel better. Actually, by using all of these things to numb yourself, you're actually prolonging the agony! You aren't ad-dressing the roots of how you feel! There is a better way.
3 Fill your life with things that interest you outside of work and obligations.
4 Surround yourself with people who enhance your life experiences. Negative people do nothing to help you experience the joy of living.
Following this tip sometimes means getting away from people that we normally hang out with and socialize. We can become so entrenched in the routine of it until we stop noticing the negative effects they really have on us. It‘s important that we do a peri-odic check of the company we keep, especially when we are in need of positive reinforcement and encour-agement.
5 Practice gratitude for all that is in your life. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, it only focuses your energy onto what you think you do not have, as op-posed to focusing on what you do have.
This tip is critical because it can serve to fill the void with something good for your mind, body and soul. An attitude of gratitude is the best medicine for any-thing that ails you and leaves you feeling fulfilled and happy with life.
6 Spiritual exercises like meditation and prayer allow you to connect to yourself, higher self and higher power. Some people may frown at this tip, but it is strictly a personal thing. I‘m not suggesting that you believe in what someone else believes in, I‘m just suggesting that you believe in something greater than yourself. Otherwise, you will have the mistaken notion that nothing is greater than you, which may prove detrimental to you.
7 Lastly, I must not neglect to offer a most important tip; that there is help. It's priceless informa-tion to know that there is help, and it‘s a courageous act to step out in faith and get it. All you need to do is find the appropriate professional and contact him or her. They will work with you to get through your problem, and get to the other side. There is absolutely no shame in engaging a therapist when you realize you are worth it and want to live.
(This article written by Mavis Jackson, a licensed chemical dependency counselor, originally appeared in the April 2010 edition of Hurt 2 Healing magazine published by Ebony S. Muhammad. To read more visit: www.h2hmag.info)