recognizing and healing from emotional wounds
In this blog, I often discuss how to use logic in addressing and solving problems we encounter in our daily lives, however no amount of logic or rational can deliver you from your emotional wounds.
Emotional wounds are wounds inflicted on us during our early childhood years, which we suppressed as a defense mechanism due to fear of abandonment and our instinctual need to bond with our families of origin. Our suppression of our wounds were understandably used as defense mechanisms until they outlasted their usefulness once we came out of childhood.
Everyone has a different emotional wound, and a common one I encounter in my practice is not feeling loved enough, if at all. For people who endured emotional and physical abuse from their guardians, not feeling loved enough became the theme of their lives.
For people who felt unloved during their childhood, they tended to suppress their true feelings and worked harder at bonding with their target oppressor or antagonist guardian or rebel frequently and lash out at their target oppressor or antagonist guardian. This manifests itself in adulthood in two primary ways. The first way is through the habitual and sometimes failed attempts to bond with someone who is emotional unavailable and/or abusive. The other way, on the other end of the spectrum are people who isolate from meaningful social contact and habitually seek out confrontations.
In both cases you have people who habitually play out the roles they played in their childhood to survive abuse, which doesn’t work in their adulthood, because they have the ability to place themselves in abusive relationships and subsequently remove themselves from such relationships.
So how do people heal from emotional wounds? The first step is recognizing your emotional wounds. While most people have developed a blind spot towards recognizing their emotional wounds, the reality is that, emotional wounds can easily be detected by looking at the difficulties you frequently experience in your life, particularly in relationships. If you simply started writing down all the types of difficulties you experience, you will notice a pattern, and that pattern is usually a reflection of the difficulty you endured during your childhood years.
The next step is to imagine yourself as having overcome your emotional wounds. Specifically, what life would be like if scabs of your emotional wounds are no longer reopened by the triggers. Heck, imagine if there are no more scabs to open, hence no more emotional wounds, what would that look like? For example, if your emotional wounds involves you experiencing a fear of rejection, what would it feel like if you took a risk that involved the possibility of experiencing rejection, and then you got rejected and you did not mind? What would life feel like in the absence of your emotional wounds?
By visualizing your feelings, you now have a good idea of what steps to take towards realizing the life you deserve where you are happy and thriving. Using a narrative, to document what your life would be like, is a very effective method, as you inevitably stumble upon specific actions to realize with your new life.
This is not an easy process, and certainly not a one time deal. It is a practice that must be done on a daily basis. If you find addressing your emotional wounds on your own to be significantly overwhelming, establishing a relationship with a good therapist is be a good investment, as it increases and speeds up the likelihood of your recovery.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.