A life that heals is more than just a life you love — it’s one that aids your journey working through your struggles, past traumas, and pains.
I went through two eating disorders that lasted over six years. I realized I had deeply rooted pains when it came to something as simple as eating and something as complex as how I loved myself.
Recovery was rough. I always say I wouldn’t wish an eating disorder on my worst enemy, and I mean that. I resided in a personal hell, and I honestly thought there was no way out.
But I had to keep moving forward; I had to try to experience life without misery.
Sometimes I reflect on that roller coaster of a journey and wonder how the hell I did it. What were the exact steps? What were the turning points?
But the thing I finally realized is there were none.
I can’t give a simple cure or describe a point that changed it all because they didn’t exist. That’s not how I recovered.
A quick fix vs. long-lasting effects
It seems like everyone is searching for a quick fix nowadays. The personal-development field is rampant with overly simplified guides and articles promising change with a few easy steps.
Feeling shitty from the death of a loved one? Go outside for a hike and distract yourself with friends!
Feeling anxious or depressed? Give yoga a shot!
And while those “fixes” have some merit, they’re never going to heal what’s really going on.
They’re what I would call “quick fixes.” They make you feel better, or maybe just numb, at the moment, but they don’t aid in deep healing.
What I’m more interested in is “fixes” that might take more time but ultimately have long-lasting results.
Results that surpass a sweaty yoga sesh in a studio.
Getting to a place where I can eat food without guilt or look at my naked body without crying happened because of the life I created for myself; the way my every day played out.
The healing didn’t happen from face masks and downward dogs (though again, these can help); it happened from getting out into the world and designing a life that aided in my healing.
The kind of life where I woke up one day and realized how far I’d come in my recovery, without ever noticing the changes.
And for you to do the same, you need to design your own life that heals. The process involves adding some things but also removing others.
In the end, creating a life that heals will do more than create a life you love; it’ll create a life that helps you work through your deepest pains and equips you for any future ones to come.
Question your beliefs, thoughts, and fears
Self-awareness is going to be the crucial first step in designing a life that heals. You can’t know what kind of life to design if you’re not aware of what’s going on in your life now.
We all have pains and traumas from when we were younger and in our adult years. But if we don’t take note of them, they’ll go on to affect anything and everything from our relationships to career to sense of worth.
Whenever you have a negative thought about yourself or fear holding you back, take note of whether it is well-founded and how it formed.
Do you actually think you’re dumb, or did a boyfriend once say you were?
Are you not prepared for a career move, or are you scared you’re not good enough?
Questioning these beliefs will help you begin to challenge the beliefs that aren’t serving you. Plus, once it’s a habit, you’re better equipped for outside opinions trying to penetrate your sense of identity.
Cut out toxic beliefs
If the voice inside your head is continuously berating you for every mistake you make because you’re “careless” or “thoughtless,” cut out those thoughts.
Take note of when you most often say these things to yourself. Realize what it is that most triggers you.
Then, at the moment, the negative thoughts occur, replace them with a positive or at least a neutral one.
After a while, you’ll notice those beliefs about yourself slowly start to shift into a more positive light. And one day, you’ll notice them vanish entirely.
Cut out toxic people
You are a sum of the five people you spend your most time with.
If you’re trying to work through your self-sabotaging or harmful habits, it’s going to be hard to do so if you’re spending your time with people that have the same habits.
After hanging out with someone, I ask myself this: does this person make me feel empowered, happy, and cared for, or do they make me feel drained?
If your answer is the latter, it’s time to consider if that person is toxic and whether or not they should be in your life.
Not every friendship or relationship is meant to last forever; some just run their course.
Become clear on what you want your life to look like
It blows my mind that I walked through life for so long, being so unhappy.
I sought happiness through the men I dated, flashy careers I chose, and living al life that looked cool on social media.
But I never stopped to think what it was I wanted from life.
I really craved a stable partner that didn’t bring out all my insecurities. I wanted to stop working at meaningless jobs that made me want to gouge my eyes out every day. I wanted a life that I really enjoyed waking up to, and I didn’t want to chase money or superficial people to achieve that.
And so, I created goals to achieve that life.
Do the same for your life. What is it that really makes you happy? What matters most to you?
Become clear on how you want your life to look and feel.
The kind that are outside of work; ones that happen in your personal life. These goals can be as small as painting a picture or as big as writing a novel.
Figure out a few goals that you can pursue throughout your week that would make you feel proud of yourself. Make sure they’re realistically obtainable and then begin to take baby steps towards achieving them.
Once you complete that goal, create another.
Having goals in your personal life create not only happiness but self-confidence in your abilities. When you continuously increase your confidence, you aid in healing from past emotional wounds.
Do micro self-care every day
I know I ragged on face masks and yoga earlier, but I do think they’re a puzzle piece to all of this.
I hear people talk about self-care like it’s a reward for working hard, basically until they’re about to burn-out. But a life with such sporadic self-care seems ridiculous to me. We go through stressors every day. We deserve to take care of ourselves every day.
The fact is, when you take care of yourself, you’re going to feel better about yourself. That boost, no matter how tiny, in self-esteem, will then radiate into many aspects of your life.
Unfollow people on social media
You’re never going to heal if you’re constantly bombarded with Instagram accounts telling you you’re not good enough.
That includes workout accounts that feature half-naked, chiseled women trying to sell their online work out programs or “social media gurus” that boast their lifestyle, obtainable through their webinar.
Unfollow people that make you feel shitty about yourself or that you compare your life to.
Instead, fill your feed with motivational, educational, or dog meme accounts. I’d recommend the dog memes.
Not getting the rest your body needs will keep you from being able to make decisions that are best suited for your well-being.
If you’re sleep-deprived, you’re less likely to be able to feel good about yourself throughout the day and make decisions that you normally would.
It’s not selfish to tell your boyfriend you need to go to sleep before 11pm. Your friends will understand if you don’t text them back until morning.
Prioritize your sleep and give your body what it deserves.
Go out and volunteer.
In your local community. At the animal rescue. Whatever it is your interested in, do that while giving back.
I already talked about the powers of self-confidence and competence, volunteering helps with those things. You’re giving your time to a cause that needs your help and doing activities you love.
You’re also getting out of your own head/bubble and focusing on another problem for a change. Maybe this will help give your struggles less power over you.
Learn to say “no”
You only have so much energy to give throughout the day. Sometimes “no” is what needs to be said.
I know it can be hard for people that are used to continually pleasing the people in their life. But to create a life that heals, you need the energy to do so.
If going to your cousins for dinner makes you feel uncomfortable and drained, then don’t go.
If spending the night out at a bar with your co-workers, ruins your morning and takes time away from doing your hobbies, say no.
Starting saying no more often. I promise the results won’t be as scary as you think.
A friend of mine once said, “no one is going to do number one like number one.” He couldn’t be more fucking right.
Everyone has their own life to deal with. Their personal struggles, traumas, pains, laundry, bills, etc.
They’re in their own little world inside their head. They won’t always notice how stressed you are or that you could use a night off instead of attending their sister’s birthday.
Speak up about your needs and choose yourself. Healing comes when you realize your worth, and that comes from making yourself your number one priority.
Seek professional help for the harder stuff
Think of therapy like going to the gym or seeing the dentist.
It’s something all of us could stand to go to, even more so if you are going through something difficult or wants to work through past traumas.
I implore you: do not think advice from your friends counts as seeking help. I’m sure they mean well, but they’re not trained professionals in human psychology.
Sitting down with someone to talk about something profoundly impacting your life can be profound. You can unearth memories you forgot existed. You understand why it is you act and believe certain things. Your therapist can even help equip you with tools for navigating life in a way that heals.
Therapy rocks. I’ll keep screaming it through the interwebs. Give it a try.
Creating a life that heals requires some conscious thinking and planning. It may seem contrived at times, but just stick with it, you’re going to feel uncomfortable because this kind of action is new to you.
But you’re working towards a long term change that’s going to have life-lasting impacts. Focus on the baby steps.
Then one day, you’ll look back and see how far you came. And then you’ll know it was all worth it.
Sign up for my newsletter to get articles and advice on improving your relationships with others and yourself sent straight to your inbox.