5 Steps Toward Healing Emotional Wounds
The painful experiences that happen throughout our lives carve themselves into our psyche as emotional wounds. There can be a lot of them, and we can call them by many names: betrayal, humiliation, mistrust, abandonment, injustice…
It’s important to be aware of them and avoid covering them up, because the more time we wait to heal them, the worse they’ll get. When we feel wounded, we’re constantly living through situations that aggravate the pain, forcing us to wear multiple masks out of fear of reliving the pain.
This is why we’re sharing the 5 stages you need to go through to heal your emotional wounds:
1- Accept the wound as a part of yourself.
The wound exists; whether you accept it or not, the first step is to recognize the possibility that it is there. According to Lise Bourbeau, to accept a wound is to look at it, to observe it carefully and know that having situations that need to be resolved forms a part of the human experience.
We are not better or worse just because something has hurt us. Building a protective armor around yourself is a heroic act, an act of self-love that has a lot of merit, but also one that doesn’t necessarily serve you in the long run.
In other words, the armor protects you from harmful surroundings, but once a wound has opened and you can see it, it’s time to think about healing it. Accepting your wound is beneficial because it will keep you from wanting to change yourself.
2- Accept the fact that what you fear, you do to yourself and to others.
The will and the decision to overcome your wounds is the first step towards patience, compassion, and understanding ourselves. These qualities will develop for you, and you’ll help other people develop them, which will nurture your well-being.
Sometimes you might not realize that you impose your expectations on others, hoping that live up to your standards and fulfill your hopes. The truth is that this behavior ends up putting a strain on your relationships, causing a huge amount of discomfort when others don’t respond in the way you’d hoped.
3- Give yourself permission to be angry with the people who deepened this wound.
The more you get hurt and the deeper your wounds, the more normal and human it is to blame and be angry at whoever hurt you. Let yourself be angry at them and forgive yourself.
When you feel angry at others for the hurt they’ve caused you it’s like you’re constantly scratching at your itching wounds. Feeling guilty makes forgiveness difficult, while freeing yourself from blame and resentment is the only way to heal your wounds.
When you forgive, you recognize that people who hurt others probably carry a lot of pain within them. You hurt others with the masks that you wear to protect your wounds, so when you take off that mask and forgive you take the first important step in being a more caring and less hurtful person yourself.
4- No transformation is possible without first accepting the wound.
A wound can teach you something, although accepting the wound will likely come at a cost because your ego creates a barrier of protection that is quite effective at hiding your problems.
The truth is, normally the ego wants to take the easiest road towards healing, and thinks it does, but in reality it complicates your life. It’s actually your thoughts, reflections, and actions that simplify your life, although it seems too complicated because of the effort it requires.
You try to hide the wounds that make you suffer the most because you’re afraid of looking them in the eye and reliving them. This makes you put on masks and exacerbates the consequences of the problems that you have; among many other things, you stop being yourself.
5- Give yourself time to notice how long you have clung onto your wounds.
Ideally, you would take off your masks as soon as possible, without judging our criticizing yourself, as this would allow you to identify how you should treat your wounds in order to heal them.
It’s possible to switch masks in one day, or wear the same mask for days or months. The ideal is to be able to tell yourself: Okay, I’ve been wearing this mask, and it’s been for this reason.
Then you will know that you’re on your way and for the rest of the journey, your guide will be the momentum that allows you to feel okay without hiding yourself.
Images courtesy of bruniewska and natalia_maroz