Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash
The current pandemic triggered a wave of psychological havoc and the subject of emotional healing has become a major concern for many. Although it should not have taken a global crisis to make it a priority, it is a great time to delve into this vital topic. Producers of news programs and podcasts have enlisted the aid of mental health professionals highlighting the importance of why we need to heal individually as well as families, communities, and nations.
What I have found perplexing in most broadcasts I’ve heard is that in regard to individual healing, there is a lack of defining what it is and how it occurs. I am grateful it has finally garnered tremendous attention but once this pandemic is over, it should not lose any of its current significance. However, simply talking about it is not the cure and realizing its magnitude won’t provide any relief. Nonetheless, what is emotional healing and how does it occur?
The first step
Perhaps the reason it’s hard to define is because it’d difficult to put a finger on precisely what in our lives needs to be healed. Long before COVID 19, many of us have experienced traumas or circumstances which seriously impacted our mental wellness. Some people may have had to deal with an inordinate number of horrific experiences, and it may be problematic to know where to begin.
I often compare emotional healing with its physical counterpart. Throughout your lifetime, can you recall how many times your body has suffered injuries? From small cuts to major surgeries, most of us couldn’t name more than 10% yet we have continued to survive despite the difficulties they produced at that time.
We may have trouble recalling all our emotional wounds but a good place to start is with the ones which continue having the greatest negative affect on our emotional wellbeing. When working with my clients, their first task is to define for themselves what they believe emotional healing is. What they would like to see happen and what progress would indicate healing is transpiring. Then they write down those thoughts to keep as goals toward their progress.
This initial step is frequently a stumbling block as well because they cannot imagine themselves being in a healing or healed state. I will ask them to look at its physical counterpart. How do we know when a cut on our finger is healed or a broken leg is healthy? When there is little or no sign of the original wound or these appendages are able to function as best as possible.
Just as there are different magnitudes with physical injuries, the same is true with the degrees of emotional wounds. Traumatic injuries can leave emotional scars or perhaps even a kind of emotional amputation. But as in the case of our physical bodies, with therapy and special training, we learn to adjust and thrive in these situations.
A healing indication
When physical wounds heal, we can see their progress. But emotional wounds are difficult to discern because their results are intangible and unseen. They occur in our minds, our psyches, and most importantly in the way we perceive ourselves. Emotional healing is up to you to decide if there is either no mark left from the original wound or you have been able to thrive despite those injuries.
Since there is no visible way of proving the healing process is happening, it is completely left up to us to embrace our progress and validate its occurrence. If the original wound was traumatic and affected our confidence and self-esteem, the shame which frequently accompanies these injuries, may persuade us to disbelieve or disavow any or all our progress.
Don’t let the occasional doubt discourage you. Questioning or having uncertainty about emotional healing is a reoccurring event for most everyone in this process. If one has experienced decades of self-doubt and despair, reversing these doubts rarely occurs instantaneously. Think of these moments as if part of the scab were torn away and will now require a bit more care and time to heal.
Transforming these former thoughts of despondency into ones of healthy self-esteem is the foundation of emotional healing. Sometimes, a portion of the original wound was due in part to our own shameful thoughts we felt about ourselves. Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this or am I being punished? These false notions all contributed to the size of the original wound and healing takes a complete reversal of these inappropriate and incorrect beliefs you once believed about yourself.
Undoing your mindset after years of living with a damaged one is an extremely difficult task. I always recommend using a therapist or counselor who understands the healing process. If one is not available, there are other helpful and accessible suggestions. Most of these recommendations are based on the ability to put our minds at ease and to relieve stress or anxiety.
Walks in nature are therapeutic because they do lead us to a temporary reality of awe and wonder. Likewise listening to a soothing or favorite piece of music can evoke similar feelings to nature. Many have picked up a paint brush and expressed their feelings on canvas. And one of the most recent discoveries to enhance emotional healing is therapeutic writing.
While these actions are not the actual healing itself, they are similar to dressing or a bandage on a wound. They establish a more suitable and beneficial environment for our healing to occur. When the emotional distress has diminished, it better enables us to free us of our negative self-perceptions and change the way we think about ourselves.
Validation is another phenomenal approach to enhance our healing. One of the biggest influences a therapist or counselor can have is to validate the client’s progress. A close friend or partner can also give positive validation to your efforts. Again, these influence our environment to be more conducive in enhancing our confidence and self-esteem which is how emotional healing is accomplished.
Emotional healing is the most vital part of living a mentally fit life. It creates a more caring, kind, and empathetic person which in turn, will make this world a better place. If you or someone you know would like personal attention with the emotional healing process, please feel free to email me at, firstname.lastname@example.org.
My thanks to Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash for the wonderful picture and I look forward to your thoughts.