5 Common Emotional Journeys, And Expert Advice On How To Tackle Them

20/01/2017 2:30 PM AEDT | Updated 05/07/2017 2:53 PM AEST
Mike Powell

While we're all unique, there are common emotional experiences that we share, experiences that are part and parcel of human existence. But when it's a challenging emotional journey, how do you go about regaining a healthy equilibrium? And why are some personal journeys harder to handle than others?

Below are five of the most common emotional journeys we may experience, and expert advice on how to get through them.

1. Losing Your First Love

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Losing your first love -- no matter who you are -- is an experience that is usually earth shattering.

"The cliche 'time heals all' is true - particularly when it comes to losing your first love," said Amanda Joy Robb, psychotherapist and relationship therapist at Joy Through Therapy. "Time does heal. As the hours and days pass, you start to recall what life was like before they came along, when you were doing fine, but also get excited about future prospects, relationships."

Joy explained that it's important to try and shift your focus elsewhere, such as hobbies, socialising with friends, travelling.

"Once you've endured it, that feeling will never happen again. Sure, you will have other heartbreaks, even harder ones as you get on with life, but the rawness of the first is a one off."

2. Drifting Apart From A Best Friend

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Relationships with friends can be rewarding and also frustrating. As we grow and change, often this leads to drifting apart from friends and ultimately some relationships will come to an end. Naturally, this can be accompanied by feelings of sadness, hurt, anger and rejection.

"When hurting we may feel the need to think or speak negatively about our former friend," said clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Clarke. Samantha explained she advises clients to look objectively at the friendship and consider whether you were actually satisfied with it -- were your needs met? Were your values shared?

"Friendships can also be linked to our old relationship dynamics that don't serve us to grow," Clarke said. "Bear in mind that you need to let some things go in order to grow and to allow space for new friendships to develop."

3. Moving Out Of Home For The First Time

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Moving home at any point in your life is normally pretty stressful, but taking that first leap into the big, wide world and leaving the safety of the parental nest can be especially daunting.

"For the first time they need to deal with signing a lease, earning an income, and budgeting, all without the backup of parents undertaking the shopping, cooking, cleaning and bills," said counselling psychotherapist and parenting and relationships author, Dr Karen Phillip.

Embracing these responsibilities that come with adulthood can be strange and confronting and during this period Phillip said that leaning on your parents is key.

"Parents can help guide their child into adult reality," Phillip said. "Or at least be there with communication lines open when their child needs direction or advice."

4. Losing A Loved One

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"Bereavement is the price we pay for love," said Chris Hall, CEO and psychologist, Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement. "It's normal, natural, unavoidable and can affect every part of our life, including our thoughts, behaviours, beliefs, feelings, physical health and our relationships with others."

"Grief is individual and is unique to you," Hall said. "Whilst lives are often transformed by such loss, it does not necessarily need to be for the worse."

To begin the healing process, Chris explained that the first step is to be patient with yourself -- grief takes time. Secondly, he said that it's important to accept whatever you're feeling and to find ways to express these feelings to close family and friends.

"Most people find that the support of their family and friends is all they need," Hall said "They gradually find ways to learn to live with their loss and to heal."

5. Having A Child

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While soon-to-be parents can prep themselves with lamaze classes and reading endless tomes on child rearing -- the reality of having a baby is unlikely to hit until the newborn is actually at home.

"Do all the preparation you can," registered psychotherapist and certified practicing coach, Shane Warren said. "But the emotional journey is not something you can plan for. Expect ups and downs. You'll watch the bub sleep and feel an all-consuming love, but when your home becomes a den of screams, this might turn into self-doubt and anxiety."

It's the same journey if you're adopting said Warren. "We all get lost in discussions about blood being thicker then water, but once you make the decision to take a child into your life, you'll be amazed at how the heart just fits."

And if you're raising the child in a couple, Warren advises to make time for your relationship.

"Don't lose your coupledom in bringing up a baby," Warren said. "Make sure you find time for each other. It is hard work, but if you can be brave enough to relax and enjoy it then you'll both gain a deep sense of self that can not really come from many other experiences."

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