THOUGHTS When Life Hands You Lemons Do like author L.A. Banks, a.k.a. Leslie Esdaile Banks. Tap into your creative juices and squeeze out a new life.
Made poor choices? Let go, then move on.
egretting past decisions or actions is a funny thing. Although your mistakes are history, you’re obsessing over them in the present—which often clouds your future. How do you break this negative cycle? First, accept whatever it is that you’ve done, advises therapist Elisa English, PhD, a licensed clinical social worker in New York City. Then, move on. “And allow yourself to cry if you must.” Second, speak to someone. “And that means talking to someone you know and trust or getting professional help,” English says. The reality is you cannot change something you did in the past. And, yes, sometimes if you’ve wronged someone, 3 2 RE A L H E A LTH S U MMER 2011
the burden of guilt can follow you far into the future. When this happens, it’s tempting to unload the burden, to confess the wrongdoing. But in fact, the best course of action is to consider before you confess. Still, if it helps you to reveal what you did, then spill it, English advises. “But if it really doesn’t make a difference in the life of the person you’ve wronged, you don’t need to create any unnecessary drama,” she adds. As English sums up, the best approach to regrettable actions is this: Benefit by using what happened to help you heal mentally and emotionally so you can grow and learn from your experiences. What more positive outcome can you ask for than that? —Kate Ferguson
THE EXPERT SAYS Joyce Morley-Ball, EdD, (a.k.a. Dr. Joyce) owner of Morley-Ball and Associates Inc., a mental health therapy services firm in Decatur, Georgia, shares why it’s important to let go of past negativities. Why is letting go a must for your overall mental health? Because you cannot be healthy and whole and move forward if you’re holding onto negativity in your life. If you don’t let go of past negative events, they may invade your psyche and throw you off balance. How do negative experiences lead to failed relationships? When you bottle up unfortunate events, this makes it difficult for you to communicate effectively. The result? Depression, anxiety, constant stress or a bad attitude. So how do you let bygones be bygones? First, acknowledge the negative event and permit yourself to show emotion about it. Finally, discuss the experience with a loved one or a mental health professional. And while talk therapy is good, for extremely negative situations, people may also need meds to help. —Willette Francis
Ten years ago, I got the dreaded “something horrible has happened to your child” call. The day care center that watched my baby girl, Helena, phoned to say she’d been burned by an iron. The accident caused her to lose three fingers, left her with massive scars running up her arm and necessitated 18 skin-graft surgeries. As Helena recovered, I struggled to pay the mounting bills. One day, I saw a $2,500 grand prize essay contest and decided to enter. Writing distracted me from the difficulties, and eventually, my 10-page essay turned into a 600-page story. Then, I landed a book deal and started writing full-time. Through writing books [such as the Vampire Huntress and Soul Food series, and crime novels such as Betrayal of the Trust], I discovered a newfound freedom and way of self-expression. As I watched Helena struggle through physical therapy and heal, I learned that you must use every skill and gift the creator gives you. That’s what Helena did, and so did I. —As told to Cristina González