How Much Time?
Often we hear it said, “Time heals all wounds,” and its variation, “It just takes time.” In this article, I will examine and answer the question, “Does time heal all wounds?”
When we hear people say, “Give it time,” they often mean that they hope the pain and sadness we feel will become manageable. When it comes from someone we respect, we do not question it. “After all,” we think, “they should know.”
Origin of a Myth—Why People Believe This
I don’t argue that your feelings will change over time. That is the nature of emotions: they change. You may be sad one moment, then hear someone tell a joke and find yourself laughing the next. Then, you think about sharing this joke with the someone who is no longer there, remember they are not there anymore, and the sadness returns.
Over time new things will happen in your life. You form new memories. And you have new experiences that do not include the someone who is no longer with you. We tend to think more about recent events and experiences, and recall them in greater detail than those in the distant past. This creates the illusion that grief is fading. That is, until you think of that person again, and the feelings come flooding back about all the plans that you never got to enjoy.
It’s natural for the impact of some events and memories to fade for some relationships. But for others—the pain and regret never magically fade (sorry). That is where this saying and belief falls short.
Captive to Illusion
When we question the sayings “It just takes time” and “Give it time,” their helpfulness quickly breaks down:
- How much time? [Even “professionals” debate this]
- What is the “it” in these sayings? [Journey, process, stages?]
- What exactly can I hope for in time? [Usually “You’ll learn to live with the sorrow.”]
- Are there things I can do to speed things up—or avoid prolonging it?
Implied in the sayings is that we need to wait and endure. We need to be patient. For many people I have talked to over the years, they are afraid to do anything BUT wait. They fear they will prolong their grief. Thus, many people, tragically, remain captive to the illusion that mysterious outside forces (or undefined natural ones) will end their grief.
One might wait a long time by the side of the road with a flat tire if one does not have a jack and crowbar or know how to use them. But only a fool would think “give it time,” and do nothing to patch the hole and fill the tire. Yet people tell the broken-hearted to “Give it time.” It is what they do when they don’t know how to repair a broken heart. And it is all they do when they just hope those who are grieving will one day feel better.
Not Time, But Action Leads to Recovery
Grief is about conflicting feelings, a broken heart. Loss of people important to us can leave us “in the ditch” emotionally. And just as it takes appropriate actions (and often other people to help) to get one’s car on the road, it takes action to get one’s life back on the road as well. How much time it takes depends on the tools and knowing how to use them.
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The prevalence of sayings like “It takes time” and “Time heals” speaks to how unprepared most of us are to deal with loss. I know how unprepared I was. Fortunately for me, I did not have to spend months and years grieving before being given tools that worked. Furthermore, I have found, from personal experience and from the many people I have talked to or helped over the years, that the actions of the Grief Recovery Method® help you “get back on the road” as soon as you complete them. This is true whether people have been grieving for weeks or years.
How soon do you want to get back on the road of your life, living wholeheartedly again? Let me know if you would like me to help you.