Get Busy as a Strategy To Heal From Trauma and Toxic Relationships

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We Isolate When We’re Stressed

One of the things we do when we’re stressed, that can sometimes be a good strategy, but can also contribute to our sadness over time, is isolating ourselves from the love and support of others.  There is a time and a place for being on your own, in quiet solitude, to heal.  However, many people that are in difficult relationships, or going through some sort of trauma, keep to themselves for far too long.  

One strategy that can help you heal from traumatic pasts, and toxic relationships, is getting busy doing things that are meaningful and enjoyable to you.  We were made to commune with others.  We, as human beings, are tribal, social creatures.  I was reading about shamanic healers in Peter Levine’s book, Waking the Tiger.  Shamans are the community healer in certain tribes.  They believe that all individuals are connected, and it is the responsibility of the community, as well as the individual, to heal anyone who is struggling, for the purpose of healing the whole group.  It made me wonder what we could do as a modern group if we took that same mindset.  We’ve recently been through a major pandemic, where we were isolated from others for months.  What if we now came together, and put in effort to heal each other emotionally?  We might see a drop in anxiety, depression, chronic health symptoms, and illness.  

With lives full of technology, work, families split apart by distance, an increasing divorce rate, and lack of community resources, some of us are more isolated than ever.  Add to that, your own isolation from others, due to childhood trauma and difficult relationships, and you have a prescription for both physical and emotional health problems.  

We can’t heal everyone in the world alone, so the first step is to heal yourself, with the help of your own community.

We Make the Dysfunctional Relationship Our Focus

Whether your toxic relationship was in your childhood, or in your adulthood, we often tend to make it an area of focus in our lives.  We wonder, “What is the toxic person doing?”, “Why did she treat me that way?”, “What will they say or do next?” “What will happen at the holiday gathering?” “How will the kids be affected?”. So much energy goes into wondering about the other person, that we forget to focus on ourselves.  In the meantime, we forget our own interests, our own hobbies, our own relationships with people we care about, and even the attention we give our kids.  

It will take a little effort to change these habits.  It will also take some of the focus off of the toxic person, which will probably not go over so well.  You just have to keep your priorities at the top of your mind, like your relationships with healthy people, your goals, and your dreams for the future.

Take The First Step

The first step is to begin your own healing by enlisting the support of others.  I’m not just talking about therapy and doctor appointments, which is what many of us think of when we think about getting help.  I mean, getting out into your community and doing things that make you feel good.  This may be difficult at first, depending on just how isolated you’ve allowed yourself to get, but if you take baby steps, you will start feeling great pretty quickly.

After the pandemic, I began working from home full time.  Before that, I worked part-time as a pre-kindergarten teacher in a local school district.  I didn’t know how isolated I would feel when I began working from home, and not seeing all of the other staff members and kids every day.  Not only that, but I cut contact with a family member, which made it difficult to see some of the other family members I was used to spending a lot of time with.  I was feeling so lonely, because even though I talk to other women on the phone often, it wasn’t the same as seeing people in person.

A few things that helped me get back out into the community, are joining a free 12-step program in my area, joining a group of neighbors that get together for monthly lunches, reaching out to my friends for tea or lunch every week or two, and volunteering at a local food pantry.  I also want to join a local yoga studio a few days a week.  Each of these things get me back out in my community around other people that have similar interests.  

Here are a few things that can help you feel less isolated:

  • If you work from home, go into the office a few days a week, or if you are self-employed, join a few networking groups
  • Ask a few co-workers to go to lunch once or twice a week
  • Join a neighborhood group, like a homeowner’s board, or a parenting group
  • Join a local club that has outdoor activities
  • Join a yoga studio or gym
  • Join a 12-step group program, like Al-anon or CoDA
  • Go to a local church or religious institution
  • Volunteer at a local museum or theater
  • Make a lunch date with a friend (Your friends are probably craving connection too.)
  • Revive a friendship from the past
  • Take a class (art, music, sewing, writing, pottery, photography, woodworking, finance, investing, etc.)
  • Take your dog to a dog park regularly (people love to bond over their dogs)
  • Frequent a specialty shop (crystal store, plant store, photography store, music store, etc.)
  • Volunteer at a community center, food pantry, or shelter

If you frequent the same places on a regular basis, you will get to know the other people that also frequent those places.  When you have similar things in common, you have a built-in topic to talk about.  There’s also a certain level of trust between people who have the same interests and knowledge, which makes it easier to make friends more quickly.

When you get busy, doing things you love, that is a great way to begin your healing from trauma and toxic relationships.  The more you focus on you, the less interested you are on spending time with people who don’t respect your rights and gifts.

Is there something I didn’t list that helps you stay busy, and keep your mind off of your toxic relationships?  Let me know in the comments.
My program, You Can Only Change Yourself, is an online self-study course that can give you more support in this area.

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