“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful”. Thich Nhat Hanh

We’ve all experienced it.

How hard life can be. And how in an instant it can rip you apart.

And when it does, how much you hurt inside.

It started when I lost someone that I’d always believed would be there for me.

My dad.

It couldn’t be that he’d gone, I was still at school.  What about watching me grow up, being there when I needed a hug, giving me away at my wedding? What about being a family?

I couldn’t change the news that day. I felt so alone. And I wasn’t prepared for how much it hurt.

It felt like my insides had been shredded. My heart constantly ached with all the emotion that surged through it.

At times I felt way too wretched to function normally. Yet somehow I stumbled on.

The days felt unbearably heavy, insufferably hard. All I thought of was quiet, dark, solitude to find some relief from suffering.

All I wanted was for the hurt to end. But it felt endless, relentless, merciless. And for a long while that pain became so familiar, it became who I was.

I started to believe that the wound might never heal. Every day was an exhausting struggle that I didn’t really care if I won or lost. I just wanted the hurt to end . . . please.

And you know, eventually, it did.

How I Finally Found My Smile After Hurting for So Long

When it was time. When I’d worked through enough stuff. When I’d grown strong again, I found my smile.

The pain had disappeared; it receded over time to leave me still whole, still standing. Days seemed warmer, easier, and even interesting again. Memories of dad were only happy ones, if still tinged with sadness that he wasn’t there.

I felt like a mole that had been underground for far too long, now blinking and blinded by the brightness of life. It was almost too delicious to believe.

But I was super lucky on the way to recovering from the hurt and the grief. Someone taught me the greatest lesson ever about getting through, starting over, and jumping up again.

My incredible best friend then, and my soulmate now and forever, Mark.

He gave me space to work through the stuff, the chaos, and the confusion. He knew that time honestly would heal everything. He believed scars don’t have to change who we are inside.

He had unshakable faith that we’re all strong enough to get through to the other side of pain if we find our smile once in a while. And if we remember a few essentials rules to self-healing.

I’d so love for his incredible outlook to help you when you’re hurting inside.

Take a walk with me, feel his arm around your shoulders, see how he moved me from a horribly painful space to a truly happy place.

How To Work Through The Hurt Inside

Right at the start, he showed me it’s okay to feel sorry for yourself. Such an important message if you think you have to be super strong, invincible when life gets messy.

Just like me, painful experiences or situations were never on your bucket list. Wishing they had never crashed into your life is an important first step in acknowledging that they have.

I found this allowed me to start slowly working through my anger, sadness, and suffering with self-compassion, with some much-needed self-comfort. Not dwelling on stuff, just accepting it had happened.

He made me realize you need a space to be totally vulnerable as you face your feelings. You need special care, support, and protection from someone who knows exactly how you feel and why. That person is you.

“Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion.” Buddha

And you know, being told I could set my own pace in the healing process felt like I’d gotten up off a bed of nails.

Giving yourself a wraparound hug isn’t weakness. It’s simply relieving your stress and pain. Squeeze hard, and pull yourself in close.

I loved when he showed me that tears make your eyes sparkle. I’d tried so hard for everyone else to be strong that I had to give myself permission to cry. Those tears brought me such powerful pain relief, I actually felt stronger after each time they’d fallen.

It’s so important to let your feelings wash from inside you by allowing your tears to fall. Often.

Physically releasing your hurt and anguish is a super-powerful part of the healing process. It’s progress in moving on from where you are right now to a brighter place.

Crying means you’re tapping into your deepest feelings and bringing them out into the open.

Then gently wipe your tears, and let the emotion caught in them go with your discarded tissues.

“Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.” Steve Maraboli

See how your eyes shine when you cry. One day that will be your inner sparkle shining through again.

I was resistant at first when he told me that strength comes from acceptance. I still longed to be able to turn the clock back, to hit ‘undo’ and have my dad by my side again, building bird boxes with me in the garden for hours.
Suppressing the full depth of your feelings may seem like a necessary defense against the tide of painful emotion you fear releasing, but I learned that trying to be too strong simply perpetuates your pain.

By denying how much it really hurts, you bury your pain a little bit deeper each time.

I was only able to move on, to swap grief for reminiscing on happy days and to find I could actually still smile by gradually working through everything I felt, little by little. Each brave foray into my true thoughts left me with so much lighter a burden.

Accepting your true feelings will ensure you work through them all, over time. Hidden, unaddressed pain will hurt forever. Fully healed is where you’re aiming. Recovered, whole, strong, shining. That will be you.

“Get out of your head and get into your heart. Think less, feel more.” Osho

Embrace all that you feel. Grow stronger because you work through the pain, one small step at a time.

I’d thought withdrawing from others was an effective coping mechanism, but it didn’t help me heal at all. I’d simply retreated inside a space that was filled with hurt, which could never ease the pain.

That’s like climbing in an isolation tank filled with broken glass.

Take time to listen to yourself. Hear what your body is really saying. Wanting to curl up alone is a strong message that your burden is too heavy to bear. But only if you try to do it on your own.

I learned you can gain enormous comfort from talking your thoughts through with someone you trust. Lighten your load by asking for help. When you feel weighed down, let others in to give you a caring hand.

“Eventually you will come to realize that love heals everything, and love is all there is.” Gary Zukav

To talk is to share and to heal. @laurajtong (Click to Tweet!)

The most liberating thing he showed me was that you can find loving comfort by taking care of yourself. He said “this is your recovery time, just like when you’ve been unwell. Right now, you need extra everything”.

You can soothe your pain with simple acts of self-love. Put yourself at the top of your to-do list. Boost your physical health through eating as well as possible – that means all your favorite foods, made with love.

I abandoned any notions of needing strenuous exercise for gentle, carefree activities that boosted my energy and enthusiasm. I worked on my sleep routine to make this as restful and rejuvenating as possible. Rest will calm you. Sleep will heal you.

“Sleep is the best meditation.” Dalai Lama

Help your smile to resurface by putting YOU first. Love yourself back to being able to smile often.

He told me over and over that the pain would pass. That nothing lasts forever. That the painful space was temporary, transitory.

It’s true, each day you are moving away from pain through the magical healing power of time alone.

Add in your own conscious efforts to step out of where you are to gently move forward, and that space will continuously brighten and lighten. You are walking out of the shadows toward the sun. You are well on your way to smiling again.

I learned that everything honestly does comes to an end. The pain will always ease. It will end, honestly.

And you will emerge stronger on the other side. You will feel bright enough to radiate your own sunshine with your smile once more.

“The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow.”  – Unknown

Find your smile

Life melted at some point.

Pain has ripped a hole in your heart. It has consumed your thoughts, just like it did me.

When that happens hurting feels normal, permanent. You become a walking wound struggling to heal.

But that’s not you. That’s just how hurting makes you feel.

Picture the pain receding like a wave. Because it will.

Imagine feeling the warmth of your smile again. Because you will.

Visualize feeling free of the pain, and feeling light and burden-less. Because that will be you.

All you need is to believe in the healing power of finding your smile again.

Mark & Laura are on a mission to help you gain control of your life and find your smile. Download their free cheat sheet: 5 Ways To Say No Without Offending Anyone (Even If You Hate Conflict).



Image courtesy of Krzysztof Puszczyński.