The phrase “get over it” carries more weight than many of us would like to admit. Those three words sting in our ears and make us uncomfortable. We recall times that we’ve trudged through emotions of a breakup, the remorse and awkwardness felt in the workspace after a charged argument, or the never-ending feelings of grief that hang on our backs after loss. We sit in feelings of pain and discomfort asking ourselves why we can’t move on, open the next chapter of our lives and just simply, “get over it.”
That’s because the words “get over it” are far too simple to match what this phrase is asking us to do. It implies that we have the ability to turn on and off our feelings. It asks us not just to swallow what’s causing us conflict, but to find resolution, and do it quick, because some allotted time for anguish has run out. Turn over a new leaf, forgive and forget and get your life back on track.
On occasion it can be someone close to us like a partner or friend who tells us to “get over it.” More commonly, these words live as an internal dialogue in our own heads. As humans we have a desire to be in control. Control over our mood, control over problems and their outcomes, and even control over unpredictable events that drive a fork in our lives. So, when we continue to feel sadness, anger or discomfort because of a particular event, we put ourselves in the hot seat to get it under control. We play the blame game. Why can’t I just get over a job loss and become motivated to find a new opportunity? Why can’t I just get over this argument and apologize to my partner? Why can’t I get over the criticism my boss shared with me?
Driven by the desire to leave behind unforgiving feelings, we want to shove it all down into a place that can be neatly filed in the ‘resolved’ drawer listed under ‘to never think about again.’ But when we do this, we find that something painful lingers. It shows up as a knot in our stomach. An unexpected change in mood. An incoming thought that reminds you that you’re still not okay with what transpired.
The problem with filing it away is that it doesn’t work. Saying “get over it” completely disregards our feelings and neglects to get at the conflict or loss that took place. We haven’t taken the time to understand our feelings, discover the root cause and work towards an appropriate resolution. Even though it’s the longer road to take, it’s one that we need to bravely walk instead of pressuring ourselves to move on. We need to get over shoving it all down and get into digging it all up.
It’s first crucial to acknowledge how the event has impacted us. What feelings has it dug up? How has it impacted your relationship with others or possibly your relationship with yourself? When we do this, we start to understand how our daily mood has been affected. How our perspectives might have changed in the aftermath of this event. Simultaneously, it’s incredibly important that we don’t minimize our feelings. Even if what took place doesn’t seem like a big deal to others, you only need to look at how it has made you feel. You have to honor yourself in recognizing that those feelings not only exist but are a valid response to the situation at hand.
After we’ve inspected the emotional impact, it’s time to uncover the cause. What about this conflict, event or moment left a bad taste in our mouths? It could be particular words that were exchanged during an argument that left us upset, the way we were treated that we found unfair or even the setting where the conflict took place. In order to discover this cause, we need to dig deep. This means digging up the issue at hand and getting uncomfortable. A great strategy is to journal it out, putting the mess of the conflict on paper instead of letting it cloud our brains. Speaking to a trusted family member or friend can additionally give us a chance to talk about it and pinpoint the exact source of painful feelings.
Only once we’ve done the internal work of recognizing our emotions and discovering their source, can we shift from thoughts to action. To work towards resolution, we need to ask ourselves, what do I want to do about it? Do I feel ready to have a conversation with the person who I argued with, or do I instead need space away from them? If our daily functioning or ability to reach our goals has been impeded, we should feel no hesitation to reach out to professional resources like therapy or counseling. They can provide us with incredible tools that help us cope with difficult changes or experiences. Keep in mind, there’s no rush to figure out what resolution you need. You may try different approaches and find that some don’t work for you. Just like how we tried to “get over it,” we’ll have to test out different methods until we discover how we can best move forward.
When we tell ourselves to “get over it,” we lastly rob ourselves of the opportunity to learn. A huge aspect that dictates the direction we take in life is how we deal with problems. How do we move through moments as big as a significant life change, to interactions as small as a conversation with the colleague who sits next to us at work? It’s impossible to move through every argument, conflict, separation or loss with grace and perfection. We will make mistakes simply because we don’t know any better. If we shove it all down and file it away, we can’t reflect on what we’ve learned and how we can carry it forward.
So, stop telling yourself to just simply “get over it,” because the truth is, it’s not that simple. When we engage in the full process of acknowledging our feelings, targeting their cause, finding resolution and learning from our mistakes, we set ourselves up to move forward in strides. It might look like the harder path to walk on at first, but in the long run, it will lend us the opportunity to grow and learn.
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