Once I realized I was in a situation that was no good for me—and once I found the courage to leave—I was drawn to the idea of understanding the nature and dynamics of the cruel treatment I experienced. Once I committed to unlearning the unhelpful mindsets I had developed while being abused, I began to devour books, articles, and podcasts on the topic of abuse, abusers, and emotional trauma. The first bit of my healing journey was, essentially, an intellectual practice; gathering knowledge to strengthen my understanding of what happened. Maybe you have experience with this? The way that knowledge empowers you. The way it helps you see that what was done to you was not actually your fault.
The more we are able to relate our newfound knowledge to our own situation, the more we begin to engage our emotions in the restoration process. Going through our memories, remembering how we felt at the time, and how we feel about those memories now begins as a mental exercise. But even from an intellectual perspective, it is logical to accept that our emotions need to be healed as much as our thoughts do.
What are your feelings associated with memories of abuse? Fear? Blame? Guilt? Or anger? It’s important to allow yourself to feel it all; to process. Maybe you have PTSD, have issues related to trusting others, and struggle to even conceive of forgiving those who damaged you as deeply as they have. Maybe you battle with the worst fear of all: that you will never be a complete human being again. Whatever it is, it’s only natural.
But have you considered that you could be one aspect short of truly being able to heal? And that there could be a seemingly inconspicuous issue that has not been dealt with, yet could hold the key to making you a more whole person?
Relight My Fire
In line with this idea that there are pieces of our souls that need to be healed, consider the term ‘soul destroying’. We hear this term when people refer to the trauma they’ve experienced. This term is quite literal. The inner fire that once burnt pure, joyful, and full of purpose is extinguished through the consistency and thoroughness of abuse. The source of our life and happiness goes dark and empty.
Spiritual healing—not to be confused with religion—nurtures the soul; reigniting the spark of our passion, inspiration, and sense of belonging. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the stuff that gets you excited. The stuff that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning get stuck into your day. Spiritual healing leads us to the fulfillment and satisfaction that we need—and deserve.
I found that the more I nurtured my soul the less frustrated I was with my emotional scars. I learnt to be kinder to myself, and developed a sense of pride over the way I had turned my life around.
So what does it look like to nurture your soul? I have provided a few examples below:
#1 Create Ceremonies and Rituals
My partner and I have created quite a few ceremonies and rituals over the years. Like, for example, the cremonial releasing of memories (and their associated pain) by floating paper butterflies out on the river.
A ritual I have is that I have made a habit of not brining letters from my parents into our house. Instead, I read them outside and discard them in a bin on the street. By doing this, I am putting up a mental boundary for my own sake. Those letters represent the bad energy and influence of my parents so, by keeping them out of my house, I am not allowing what they symbolise to enter my home and sanctuary.
#2 Help Others
Nothing has quite healed my soul as much as helping other survivors. Sharing your story and insights with others is so valuable. It helps you both grow and heal. By lifting others up, we lift ourselves up, too!
#3 Find New Philosophies and Beliefs
We all need ideas and strategies that help us navigate life. Over the course of the abuse you suffered, your world view has been overwritten by your abuser. Reassessing your belief system, or even finding new philosophies, will help you develop a system that can help you cope with life. It doesn’t have to be about turning to religion—although it can be if that’s what you need. But what this is really about is constructing a new view of yourself, others, and the world—and how all these relate to each other.
What helped me was to read up on philosophy and science. As I began exploring different ideas, I found other people on a similar spiritual path. It opened me up to new ideas and possibilities. It allowed me to connect to myself, my past, and the people around me in a healthier, more positive way.
#4 Reignite the spark
You don’t have to quit your day job and become a yoga teacher to discover—or rediscover—what lights you up. We are all passionate about different things, and we do not necessarily have to make our passions into our professions. If you don’t know what turns your crank, start small and test the waters with different things. Below are some suggestions:.
- Try out new hobbies, or retry some that you haven’t done for a while
- Volunteer somewhere (that also ticks the help others box)
- Reconnect to old friends, or make some new ones
- Start cooking lovely meals for your family
- Take rescue dogs for walks in the forest
The list is endless so feel free to experiment. It is about finding something that you cannot wait to get started on. If you don’t know what I am talking about, you will if you give yourself time.