Modern medicine has certainly enhanced our ability to overcome sickness and disease. If there is any irony, it has led some people to wonder if there’s a pill for almost anything. “Take two and call me in the morning” is a phrase often spoken in jest, but it perpetuates the idea that if you’re not feeling well, some kind of capsule might exist out there to cure any ailment.
Conversely, there is no single method for healing all injuries. A band-aid will work on a minor abrasion but applying it to a severe gash will have no effect whatsoever. Neither is major surgery required when a child scrapes a knee.
The same is true when we heal from emotional injuries. For every person who has suffered from abuse, there is no one set of instructions that heals every psychological wound. Emotional healing often involves a more complex plan of attack because it’s difficult to see outward signs of improvement which indicate healing is transpiring.
Before proceeding, I need to mention there are cases in which medication may be required. If you are currently taking medication or are considering this as part of therapy, I am not suggesting or directing anything to the contrary.
How to approach healing
The first step when beginning your healing journey is to ask yourself what it means to heal. What are the signs that signify progress is occurring? Keep in mind this is a progression. When we break a bone, there are several steps to the healing process. The bone is properly set, the swelling eventually reduces, the cast is removed, and physical therapy may be needed to re-strengthen the affected area. All these are steps in the healing process. Depending on the degree of injury, this process may involve several specialists including a doctor, nurse, and physical therapist.
Modern society has accepted this multi-tiered aspect of the healing process. We wouldn’t dare try and operate on ourselves or singlehandedly amputate a limb. Yet for many, the thought of going to a therapist, psychologist, or a coach when they’ve suffered traumatic encounters is completely taboo.
Unfortunately, the cost can make it prohibitive and mental health is not considered vital in numerous societies. Many people would jump at the chance of getting professional help if their insurance plan included it. Although it will take more time, it is still possible to heal.
What does it mean to heal? Take a moment to think about any past emotional injuries. Then, pay close attention to what you are experiencing mentally. Typically, they are thoughts that make us feel uncomfortable, raise anxiety, fears, or other feelings we want to avoid or never have again. These are the “cuts in the skin” or “broken bones” of our emotional injuries. If these moods or emotional states did not exist there would be no need of healing.
When these moments fade and lose their control over our mental wellness, this is a sign that healing is taking place. Our past traumas haunt us, and their residual effects can be likened to an injury that has never healed. Imagine having a paper cut on your fingertip for most of your life. Every time you tap it against something, it causes great pain. When emotional injuries remain and no solutions have been attempted, they can often hurt just as bad years after they happened.
The steps we take ought to focus on removing the anxiety or other ill feelings that arise from our past traumas. When we listen to music or take a walk in nature, it puts our minds at ease and transports us to a place of peace or serenity. The discomfort is gone because of what happened around us.
The music or nature created an environment that allowed us to change our state of mind. It may not have been possible without that help, but it was not the healing itself. Ultimately, we made a change in our outlook. If the music continued to play and we were still anxious, the music did nothing.
What changed was our attitude, our outlook, our mindset. The music or the walk in nature is similar to the cast for a broken bone. It created a better environment for the healing to occur.
Another great technique for emotional healing is self-forgiveness and acceptance. There are times when we blame ourselves for the abuses we received. Shame can be a huge culprit in increasing those feelings. What is needed are counteractive measures.
Understanding it wasn’t our fault and forgiving ourselves for thinking we were to blame are ways to eliminate the negative thoughts we believed about ourselves. Perhaps we became angry. Then, we get mad at ourselves for not being able to stop being angry. Tell yourself, “I forgive you for being angry and I don’t blame you either.” Imagine if what happened to you was done to someone else. Could you blame them for getting angry at times?
Emotional healing is often changing how we feel when these past traumas come up, having the ability not to allow them to impact us negatively. Forgiving ourselves and acknowledging we did nothing to deserve that abuse is an effective way to change the way we think about ourselves.
It is also possible you have come up with different ideas of what emotional healing means to you. This is fantastic and I applaud you and look forward to your thoughts.
If you’d like more information on how to heal from past abuses, my book, “Shame on Me – Healing a Life of Shame-Based Thinking” is available by clicking here. My thanks to Raimond Klavins on Unsplash for the fitting picture and I look forward to your comments.