Using 'Kintsugi' to emotionally heal
By Juliana Kassianos, Transformational Coach, Yoga Teacher and Founder of The School of Fertility
Following our miscarriage, I paid a visit to our local book shop to pick up some reading material. Whenever I take a hit in life, one of the ways I get my mindset back on track is to read inspirational books. I find they feed my soul, helping me to gain a fresh perspective on life, which I can take with me as I continue to move forward. If I don’t take action to recalibrate my mindset, I know I'm more likely to lose my perspective as I stop living in the present, and instead stay anchored in the past, re-living painful events that happened over and over again, unwittingly torturing myself as I play the role of victim in my own life.
Flicking through the books in the personal development section, I came across one that had a beautiful repaired piece of pottery on the cover, which read 'Kintsugi: Embrace your imperfections and find happiness – the Japanese way'. Having no idea what Kintsugi is, I was instantly intrigued and turned the book over to read the back cover. It explained how Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer. The visible ‘golden repair’, highlights the cracks, which become part of the history of the pottery. They act as a symbol for fragility, strength and beauty.
Written by psychologist Tomàs Navarro, this book was all about how we can apply the philosophy of Kintsugi to our lives, helping us to heal our wounds and become stronger as a result. Feeling somewhat broken inside myself from the heartbreak, trauma and grief we'd experienced as a result of our miscarriage, it was just the type of book I felt I needed to read.
As I read my way through it, I came to understand that in order to get back into a place of inner peace so we could start trying to conceive again, I needed to take time to digest what had happened, to lay all the broken pieces out, pick them up one-by-one and begin the process of repairing my emotional wounds. I would never be the same person as I was before the miscarriage, but I could learn from our traumatic experience and use it to create a wiser version of me. One whereby I could embrace my emotional scars and wear them as a show of strength.
In the book, he describes actions that can help us to heal our emotional wounds. Here are seven I thought I'd share as I found them helpful.
1. DON'T TRY TO DISTRACT YOURSELF
When we feel deeply hurt, it can sometimes seem easier to distract ourselves, so that we don’t have to acknowledge the painful emotions we're experiencing. The problem with this is that they tend to weigh down on us, as if we don't acknowledge them, we can’t let them go. They say, "time’s a healer", but this is only true if we face up to what’s happened to us, which means connecting with our emotions, identifying them and giving them a name.
2. DON'T ISOLATE YOURSELF
When Steve and I had our miscarriage, my immediate thoughts were that I wanted to go somewhere far away, just the two of us. I guess it was my body’s ‘flight’ response. Thankfully, we already had two weeks away organised with our families. I was slightly dreading it at the time as I didn’t want to be around anyone else other than Steve, but looking back, I reckon it was one of the things that really helped. It meant that it created a safe environment where we could have our own space to heal, but also have the close support of our loved ones to hand.
3. DON'T FALL INTO HELPLESSNESS
When we’re feeling really low, it can sometimes seem as though there’s nothing that could possibly make us feel any better. Our clouded mind can’t see through the fog. This is when it’s important to remember that there’s always things we can do or people we can go to for help, whether it’s our partner, friends or asking for specialist support. We have to find the courage within us to face up to and accept the challenge in front of us.
4. EYES ON LONG-TERM, FOCUS ON SHORT-TERM
Keep in mind what you’re working towards in the long-term, as this is what will drive your motivation. For Steve and I this was both of us healing so we’d be able to try again for a baby. To get there we had to focus our energy in the short-term on small every day actions. For me these included: taking time off work, checking in with Steve on long walks, journaling, meditating, reading, spending time in nature, eating healthily and resting in the sun. If you've been unfortunate enough to have experienced a miscarriage, ask yourself what actions you need to take in order to heal.
5. ANALYSE YOUR INNER DIALOGUE
What is it that you’re saying to yourself. Is it: “I’m such a failure as a wife and a mother” or “I am strong, and I know I can get through this”. The internal dialogue we have with ourselves stems from our beliefs. Observe your inner speech, so you can become more aware of any self-limiting thoughts and beliefs you need to work on.
6. CULTIVATE OPTIMISM
It helps to take a glass half full approach to life. None of us know what our future holds, but it might just be a baby if we choose to bravely break through the barrier of fear and keep on moving forward on our path. Remember the struggle is part of your story.
7. FIND AN OUTLET FOR YOUR EMOTIONS
What creative outlets do you have for your emotions? Mine include walking in nature, dancing (albeit pretty badly), playing the piano, painting, creating new things and writing. By adding these into my day it enables me to release any emotional baggage I might be carrying around with me. Think of emotions as energy in motion – we need to have a release for them.
To go deeper into how the philosophy of Kintsugi can help you, read ‘Kintsugi’ by Tomàs Navarro, Yellow Kite, 2018.