Maybe the turn of the year gives us a lovely opportunity to de-clutter emotionally and psychologically, to look over the recent past and wonder about what we want to let go of so that we don’t carry an unnecessary cloud over the coming months. I am not suggesting that this is easy nor that it can be done by simply waving a magic wand or applying some sort of bumper sticker wisdom to a real life issue. But what I have learned is that a little grief can go a long way in freeing the spirit. So I am just suggesting that it’s OK to feel the pain surrounding something you feel you “should be over” as part of your emotional closet cleaning as you pass from one year to the next, to in fact welcome the opportunity to shed a few tears that you didn’t even know were there and feel a whole lot better for doing so.

Ancient religions have long had rituals designed to mark transitions of all kinds, birth, death and everything in between. So why not give yourself permission to own your own spirit this year? Why not deep clean, take “care of your soul” and keep it up to date and alive by moving through the real feelings that need moving through (only you know for sure!) and welcome the lightness and renewed sense of energy and purpose that will likely follow!

Over my thirty five year career as a psychologist I have gradually developed an expertise in trauma, more specifically relational trauma or the kinds of things we do to each other that really hurt and really last. One thing that has become ever so clear to me in treating relational trauma in all of its forms — from the rather invisible drip, drip, drip abuse of chronic criticism or neglect, to the more obvious forms such a physical and sexual abuse or addiction — is that grief is an important part of working through emotional and psychological pain. I am referring to that sort of pain that is the residue of big hurt, the kind that hangs out in your mind and heart and exerts a sort of low hum of discontent that you can’t quite shake.

It is also my observation that alongside acknowledging and grieving pain there is, in those clients who survive and thrive, a spontaneous sort of “gratitude list” that naturally emerges. When we truly grieve and let go of that kind of frozen pain that has us feeling bad, we experience feeling good, we can actually feel the pleasure that unfelt or unresolved pain was blocking. We’re less afraid of the contents of our inner world and we feel closer to ourselves!

Senior fellow at The Meadows, psychologist, psychodramatist, author Emotional Sobreity,ACoA Trauma Syndrome, Forgiving and Moving On, Huff Post blogger, speaker

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