In unison, those words echoed in the concert venue in Chicago. Hundreds of attendees stood to manifest collective restoration led by Alexandra Elle before she exited the stage and wrapped up the finale of her seven-city national book tour.
Community healing is Elle’s superpower. Her latest best-selling book How We Heal: Uncover Your Power and Set Yourself Free doubles as a journaling guide and a manifesto that draws inspiration from some of the roughest patches and traumas in her own life.
“We’re all healing from something,” Elle said poignantly in a podcast interview and reiterated during the live fireside chat alongside moderator, Luuvie Ajayi Jones, who is also featured in Elle’s book. “There are moments when I need to hibernate and be by myself, but there are also moments when I need my community,” she added.
For Elle, her pen and prose has been the modality to finding her voice, nurturing her inner child, and becoming more introspective in understanding forgiveness and prioritizing self-care. Throughout the four chapters of her book, she caresses readers with uplifting words of affirmations and sprinkles in gentle reminders in the form of practical “self-love stepping stones.”
“It’s a practice that allows us to look at where we are stepping into self-love and how we’re stepping out on growth and change—but reminding folks that it’s baby steps,” Elle explained to Sweet July in a post-event interview.
In addition to Jones, recognizable names such as soccer champion Megan Rapinoe and actress Tabitha Brown contributed essay entries in Elle’s book. These women chronicle pathways of healing through creative means such as art, traveling, and gardening. Others express the longevity in healing, characterizing it as a practice of “stillness,” or, a slow process that comes in peeling back painful layers.
“I knew I wanted other voices in the book because I don’t want people to think I have all the answers,” says Elle. “It’s important to know that healing looks different for everybody.”
The testimonies of these powerful women inspired me to do some reflections of my own. I was a late bloomer to acknowledging my emotions of abandonment and how my spirit longed for healing. Oftentimes, I’d find myself trivializing adolescent experiences, afraid to talk about feeling rejected. It wasn’t until my late 20s, when I went through grief recovery with a close friend who was a certified grief counselor, that I became a journal ritualist. Recounting those experiences was the only way I could move through what I was experiencing as an adult.
Nevertheless, I didn’t realize my journey with healing was just beginning. My watershed moment came when my older brother passed away in 2020. It was a heart-wrenching loss and caused grief that I didn’t think I was capable of overcoming. Losing a close loved one can leave you in such a distraught state of mind that the idea of continuing life without them seems impossible. One silver lining in overcoming this grief is channeling it to help others.
I was reminded of this as Elle spoke to her audience in Chicago about the dichotomy of joy and pain in healing. Her words of establishing guilt-free boundaries and the importance of relational intelligence resonated profoundly.
After capping off a successful year that has been rewarding, Elle says she’s focused on getting some much-needed rest before embarking on her next journey in 2023, which will include the author launching her first affirmation card deck that is slated to be released in the first quarter.
In the meantime, here are some gems of advice that Elle has continued to instill daily and will hopefully serve as inspiration for anyone getting started in their healing journey.
Nurture Relationships That Nourish You
“A lot of things we stay in because we are comfortable, even though it doesn’t serve us.” – Alexandra Elle
Just like a plant requires water to survive, our souls also yearn to be fed when it comes to being nourished in our relationships. Identifying and uprooting the bad weeds in your life requires work and being okay with losing someone who is emotionally bankrupting you. Take stock of relationships and ask yourself if you feel nourished by someone, whether they bring you joy, laughter, or the opposite. This will help you identify who belongs in your life and who needs to be left behind.
“So many of us are used to performing that we’re not showing up as ourselves.” – Alexandra Elle
Vulnerability can oftentimes be misconstrued as not having what it takes to succeed. Pretending like you have it all together is only doing a disservice to yourself, one that may affect you even more in the long run. Going through trials does not mean you have to suffer in silence, so don’t be afraid to ask for a shoulder to lean on.
Moving Through Instead of Moving On
“Some stuff is going to hurt for a long time and that doesn’t make us weak.” – Alexandra Elle
After experiencing a difficult relationship, loss, or a trying season in our lives, it’s an innate human feeling to want to put it in the rearview mirror and forget it ever happened. Contrary to popular belief, moving on isn’t always the best coping mechanism, nor is it the best way to get over whatever caused your heartache. To truly heal, consider moving through pain as opposed to moving on.
Don’t Rush Your Healing
“I don’t think we normalize not doing enough.” – Alexandra Elle
Society has perpetuated an insatiable need for productivity that can send our mind into overdrive, leaving us feeling like there is more we should be doing. Slowing down and honoring any necessary seasons of stillness is just as important to your productivity. It also helps clarify what matters most to you.
Prioritize Joy While Healing
“If we’re always in that trauma space, when will we be able to touch joy?” – Alexandra Elle
Healing doesn’t always have to be tending to a wound or broken heart, Elle explained. Taking time to prioritize your emotional well-being is essential to experiencing joy. Not feeling guilty in the midst of joy is pivotal to self-improvement. So, keep in mind that you don’t need to shut out the possibility of excitement just because you’re working through hard times.
Remember: “You can be healing and be happy.”