Emotional wounds are a complex form of trauma, stemming from painful experiences, which profoundly affect functioning and/or psychological state.
The impact of such a wound is quite similar to physical pain, and in fact, if an individual were to undergo a scan during moments of emotional and physical pain, brain activity would lit up in the same area. Emotional pain can cause physical pain, and if it doesn’t, that wrecked mental state is psychologically painful.
Such wounds typically develop during childhood when needs aren’t met. Abandonment or rejection from a primary caregiver leaves an imprint, which may be carried through adult life outside ones of awareness. Other times, events such as divorce, loss, or breakups occurring later in life leave hefty wounds.
Emotional wounds must be processed, otherwise they’re considered unhealed, eliciting a lasting devastation. It’s like carrying a heavy bag of weights, which presents itself through feelings of irritability, anxiety, or depression.
If you have an unhealed emotional wound you may have difficulty sleeping, isolate from others, grapple with low self esteem, random bouts of loneliness, feeling lost and/or numb.
Healing emotional wounds requires a healthy action plan. Implementing the following steps will help process and heal your emotional scars.
1. Understand your emotional pain. To do this you must be aware as it occurs, paying close attention to your thoughts and what they’re saying. Change your internal dialogue by replacing unhealthy thoughts with healthy ones.
2. Instead of numbing, escaping, or avoiding the emotional pain, fall into it. Notice bodily areas affected by the pain. Unprocessed pain is stored, becoming locked inside your body, revealing itself in unexpected, hurtful ways. Allowing yourself to feel that pain aids in releasing the energy.
3. During such moments, do what your body is telling you (as long as it’s harmless- of course) If you need to cry or scream- do it. Once subsided, comfort and self soothe yourself with positive affirmations such as, “You’re safe and loved,” until you feel safe expressing, validating, and owning your emotions.
4. Journaling is an effective practice to reflect and process emotions. Write down feelings or thoughts that make an entrance throughout the day. It’s hard to reason with the mind, especially when it feels like someone’s running a marathon up there, enslaving you until they finally pass the finish line. Writing helps slow your thoughts down so you can reason with that beast in the attic.
Be patient and persistent. Healing requires time, especially when battling emotions you’ve grown comfortable neglecting.
Create space for healing to take place and be gentle while doing so. Refrain from critical self-talk. Validate your emotions instead of judging them. Everyone is entitled to feel what they feel and that doesn’t define you.
Sending love to those struggling. It doesn’t last forever. ❤
-Jessica Bruno LMHC