"The best way out is always through."
– Robert Frost
As a therapist, I see these as words to live by. Certain things in our emotional lives we can let roll off pretty readily, "like water off a duck's back." "Suck it up and drive on," as the Army teaches. Other things, we will be upset about for a time and then come to see differently after awhile, such that they don't bother us as much. Very significant emotional events, though, are things to be worked through, not things we just "get over."
We can get past things and try to learn from them. Sometimes the lessons are hard to swallow–even unwanted!–but we can make it. To borrow a concept from AA, you may have to "fake it till you make it," but you can make it. As Nietzsche wrote long ago, "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger."
Another aspect of getting through something is understanding where it comes from in the first place. When you know different, you can do different, to paraphrase Maya Angelou. For example, take anger. Anger is a cover emotion. That is, it's not a pure emotion alone; something else lies beneath it, usually hurt, guilt, sadness, regret, embarrassment, fear, anxiety, shame, worry and so forth.
In situational anger, it may not be terribly difficult to discern what lies beneath. With someone with a long-standing anger problem, it can be a little more difficult. The solution, however, is the same either way: Figure out what it is and work through it. In my opinion, working through something involves figuring out where it's coming from, working on a different perspective and seeing what can be learned from it and then coming up with a plan for how to handle related thoughts and emotions going forward.
Sometimes, we shouldn't just "let sleeping dogs lie." For this week–and a better life going forward–take a look at what it is that you can work through to be a better you. Then, get all Nike about it and "just do it!"
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