Updated: Apr 27
Author’s Note: this is the third in a series of four articles on emotional healing. It is a delicate and easily misunderstood subject frequently involving individual assistance with a trained counsellor.
The word “healing” poses interesting and diverse interpretations which may be the reason why many in the mental health profession are vague or silent when it comes to providing advice on how this is done. Nonetheless, with the conditions brought on by the ongoing pandemic and polarizing political climate, there is no more urgent time than the present to make healing a significant priority.
For anything to heal there had to have been an original injury. This is true whether it occurs to the planet, an animal, or to our mental wellbeing. When most physical injuries happen, the damage is apparent and there is tangible evidence a restoration is taking place. With emotional damage, the injury can go unseen and at times, be hidden under a jovial façade.
There is no one solution for every situation. A minor injury may heal itself, but a major trauma could involve expert counseling and years of work. What you have suffered may require a different approach from what will be discussed. That said, I do not wish to minimize anyone’s past abuses and urge these ideas not be taken out of context.
Steps to Healing
When damage is done to natural landscapes, nature will overtime regrow the plants and smooth out the land to where there will be little or no sign of the initial destruction. There have also been times when meteors have permanently changed earth’s crust yet despite that damage, nature continues to grow and flourish.
Some animals can regrow limbs or other parts of their bodies after encountering trauma and a few have evolved to replace internal organs. Thankfully, the human epidermis is capable of mending itself and with the assistance of medical expertise, our internal bodies can repair bones and some organs.
If there is no restoration, regeneration, or renewal, healing has not occurred.
It is no different when it comes to our own emotional recovery. The evidence is when the sign of the initial injury starts to diminish, and we can function in a way that it no longer significantly influences us and we have the ability to thrive.
We cannot simply ignore our injuries nor expect that in time, they will “heal.” Just as there are steps we can take to promote or accelerate physical healing, the same is true with its emotional counterpart.
Little or no sign of injury
When I work with clients, it is vital I keep in mind that I have not walked in their steps and don’t always fathom the extent of the damage they encountered. However, that will never deter me from guiding them through this process. The key is helping them understand how to put themselves in that state where they can eventually blossom.
Frequently, our past traumas create a variety of ill feelings from depression to being stuck and not knowing how to move forward. The memories can haunt us by constantly being replayed in our minds, and sometimes people resort to destructive means hoping to control or suppress these painful thoughts. It is the destructive power in those thoughts where our efforts must be focused. We must change the way we perceive them so they will lose their dominance and control over us.
This is much easier said than done. It’s not always a matter of simply telling yourself, “I no longer need to feel bad about myself and those abusive incidents,” but it will require a change in mindset, how you perceive yourself, and a determination not to allow those past events to entrap you and continue to damage you. Ultimately, you will change the way you think about you. This is a major step in absolving or mitigating your original injury.
There are many people who experience a walk in nature as healing, but what exactly does that walk do? It puts your mind at ease. It helps you forget about your troubles. It changes your mood. The walk makes you feel better by changing your outlook and perceptions. You may temporarily ignore all the difficulties you encountered simply from enjoying nature’s beauty and its wonderment.
Imagine for a moment, being able to hold onto that very same emotional state you enjoyed on your walk and carry it with you after returning to everyday life. The anguish from your original injuries would relinquish most if not all its control over you. If that terrible memory threatens to replay itself and you could return mentally to that place in nature, it would once again alleviate all the pain associated with those horrific thoughts. This is what it means to heal emotionally.
It is the same with every and any action we take to alleviate our emotional pains. For some, it may be listening to music while for others it may entail drawing, painting, or writing. Expressing our emotional pain is another effective way of alleviating their adverse effects. Unfortunately, the embarrassment or shame from those abuses may keep us from this valuable therapeutic step. Whatever approach we take, it should never complicate our lives or make matters worse by creating additional addictive or dependent conditions.
There are circumstances which require fierce determination and grit. Perhaps you were horribly abused as a child and it has caused irreparable damage. These are wounds which impose a permanent impact similar to what an amputation or paralysis will cause. But just as many have overcome these physical impediments, the same can be true for our emotional ones. It will demand great effort and resolve but it is possible to overcome these adversities and be in a state where you will thrive.
Emotional healing is rarely an easy task, but it is extremely rewarding and offers us an opportunity to live a fulfilling life. If you or someone you know is ready to begin this journey but may not know where to begin, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you’re ready to get started on your journey towards empowerment.
My thanks to Henry Ng on Unsplash for the wonderful picture and I look forward to your comments. If you would like to read the first 2 articles about emotional healing, click here to return to the blog home page.