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(I am sorry that I have neglected my posting for the past several days. I hope this makes up for it.)
“It’s just not fair.”
“How can they do that to me?”
“Don’t they care how this affects me?”
“This always happens to me. Why can’t I catch a break?”
Have you ever said anything like the quotes above? I don’t think anyone goes through life feeling they have been treated justly or fairly all the time. We have all fallen victim to injustice at some time in our lives. That is, unless, you have lived some kind of charmed life. It could have been a relatively minor injustice like not being selected for a team or passed over for a promotion or someone treating you poorly. Some can be major injustices involving major losses. They can be anything from being falsely accused of a crime and being convicted, infected by a disease or injured by someone who was negligent, or being the victim of a crime.
Recovering from an injustice can be quite difficult and take a considerable amount of time. Many times the consequences can affect lives in many ways and for a considerable amount of time (possibly even the rest of someone’s life). I am writing this post because I have fallen victim to an injustice that has had a considerable affect on me and my life. I am writing this from the perspective of a mental health professional and a person trying to work through this issue. I try to use my own experiences in life to illustrate or help the people I have worked with as a professional.
How do you deal an injustice and the effects it has on a substantive as well as an emotional level? These are the type of events that you never anticipated and were not prepared to deal with. We see the man who gets released after spending years in prison when they find he did not commit the crime. We wonder how he was able to deal with the situation. People find themselves in situations that are unjust every day. Many of us have an intellectual understanding the life is not fair. Life just happens and sometimes bad things happen to us for no reason. When faced with these situations we must find a way to cope. We must find a way to continue living a productive and rewarding life. The other alternative is to remain stuck in the anger and depression from something we cannot change.
A good place to start is to process the feelings associated with the situation or event. It is not going to help you in the long run to avoid the feelings or self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, or some behavior (sex, spending, eating, etc.). It is okay to feel sad or depressed, angry, or nervous. These are all natural feelings associated with negative events we experience. It is not a good idea to judge what we think we should or should not be feeling. Let these feelings out. Talk with family and friends, write in a journal, or find some physical way of releasing these emotions. I don’t think it is productive to try to get some meaning about the event or events. If there is a meaning, you will become aware of it after some time has passed.
There is a grieving process that can take place. You can’t decide how long you will grieve. Allow the process to happen no matter the level of pain or discomfort. The longer you resist the feelings and the process the longer it will continue. When you are ready to move on with your life you will begin to accept what is. You will learn to accept those things that you cannot change and get on with your life. Dwelling on the past or the negative things in our lives accomplishes nothing more than keeping us from getting pleasure from life. This is good time to be looking at what you may have learned from the experience.
Eventually, you will get to the point of being able to accept what happened and allow yourself to move on with your life. Thoughts of the event or events enter your mind less often. It also affects your emotional state to a lessening degree. You will begin to heal and more so over time. Healing is an ongoing process and the emotional effects could be with you for a considerable amount of time. In my case, whenever I have to deal with something associated with things that have happened in my life, my feelings surface to some degree.
I am not the type to tell people they can completely heal from all experiences. In some instances this is true. In some instances it is not true. The affect linger. But, you are able to recover and cope and get on with your life.
If you are someone who has never made a major mistake in your life my hat is off to you and I want to know how you managed that. I am one of those people who has made major mistakes (at least from my point of view) and had to suffer the consequences. It can be very painful and set your life back. To be honest, I have had to start over in my life more than once. I have had to change directions and even re-invent myself. The experience I have in this area has taught me a few things about dealing with mistakes.
Once the action that caused the problem has been done you have little control of the response. As much as we would like to, we can’t take it back. It’s alright to beat yourself up for a while. It is a pretty natural reaction for most of us. But, some people take it to the point of affecting life for many years. That is really unnecessary and self-destructive. So, give yourself some time and then have the goal of letting that go. The sun will continue to rise and life will go on. Your life needs to go on as well. From my experience, anxiety and depression are the feelings to be dealt with. There is a grieving period that takes place as well. Anger is also a part of the process and then acceptance and healing can happen.
I believe it is very important to take responsibility for our mistakes and not place blame on others or make ourselves out to be victims. You are experiencing something that will stimulate growth if you allow it.
Don’t try to avoid or medicate your feelings. I believe that you can’t get past issues without going through them. Part of being a human being is having feelings. Many of those feelings are unpleasant. Part of the healing process is the feelings we would very much like to avoid. Those feelings will not last forever. They never do. Whatever feelings you have will be replaced with other feelings. Even though it may not be visible, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Avoid trying to find meaning it what has happened. I don’t believe there is a reason for everything. Sometimes we make bad choices and stuff happens. On the other hand, I believe that some of the worst things I have experienced in my life turned out to be some of the best things to have happened in the long term. But I was not aware of the for a long time after the event. Those are the events that taught me huge lessons and changed the direction of my life. Those are the events that opened my eyes to the inner strength that I have and the ability to bounce back.
Therefore, the next step is picking up the pieces and moving forward. Accept that you can’t change the past and as uncertain as the future may be, you can only do things in the here and now to create a better life. Try to learn the lessons you can and apply them to your life. Put the past in the past. You have a choice to have a story or be your story.