05/17/2013 06:59 pm ET Updated Jul 17, 2013

You Gotta Face It to Fix It

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." -- James Baldwin

Many of us like to live in what I call the 51st state: the state of denial. We have all been there, done that. It's what we do as humans to avoid pain, wounds, grief, and any kind of negative stimulus. Avoidance is how many of us believe we are coping with or actually resolving our conflicts. We are not. The truth is that denial leads to destruction. And from a physical wellness standpoint, creating "illusions" or not dealing with the things that have hurt us can cause great physical damage to our bodies and to our emotional health.

A great book I think everyone should read was written by Dr. Don Colbert, M.D., titled, Deadly Emotions: Understand the Mind, Body, Spirit Connection That Can Heal or Destroy You. In the book, Colbert goes through medical and psychological findings that prove that when we don't face our toxic emotions, unresolved hurts, childhood pains, anger, or wounds our bodies suffer, and we get sick. My message today is simple: You must face what is wrong, hurt, broken, or uncomfortable in your life, in order to fix it.

Here are five steps I have incorporated into my own life based on many years of counseling, going faithfully to Alanon (for families of alcoholics), being a student of the Gospel/Christian, writing a top-selling book, and just living and interacting with some amazing people who started out wounded and ended up wise:

1. You are only as sick as your secrets. This means that whatever you are hiding and keeping inside (carrying) has the potential to make you physically and emotionally unwell. If you can learn to live authentically and transparently, you will live a much longer, healthier, prosperous life. Do not keep someone's ugly secret that they deposited in your spirit. If you were molested, abused, or hurt as a child or even as an adult, find a trustworthy person, a professional and talk it out. Secrets can make us sick.

2. Confront the pain -- get it out. I had issues growing up with my father. My brother and I wrestled for years with how to deal with him, not deal with him, heal from our wounds, and not become the very thing we detested growing up. At some point we had to confront our hurts and our father. We did so. And now we have a much healthier, vibrant and restored relationship with him. As I write this column, my father is at my home in Virginia working on my spring "honey-do list" cause "my honey" don't do lists.

3. Get professional help. I speak what I know. I had a lot of physical ailments as a child and still do as an adult. They were and are all related to stress and my immune system. Had I not gone to counseling, journaled, gone to support groups, talked it out, and used my mess as my message in life, I don't think I would be where I am today in my growth and wellness. I may not even be here.

4. Find the courage to face it. If you won't face what is wrong in your life, in your spirit, in your world then you will never realize your full potential in life. Carrying baggage weighs us down. It is only when we release the baggage that we can soar to greater heights and be who we are meant to be in all of our splendor. Your fixing what is broken in your soul frees you to fly at full wingspan. It unleashes power in you that can truly change the world. Fixing you blesses the rest of us with your most amazing best gifts!

5. Lastly, surround yourself with people who speak life into you. The power of life and death is in our words. It is in our networks, our relationships, and in ourselves. You heal by being affirmed and restored. Words have great power. Make sure the people surrounding you speak words that empower, bless, lift, and heal your broken, wounded places. This is so critical once we find the courage to face what ails us and dare to fix it.

For more by Sophia A. Nelson, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.