How Healing Emotional Wounds is Like Healing Physical Wounds



By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Physical wounds are easy to spot as they usually leave physical evidence of an injury such as a broken bone or blood.  They also leave emotional evidence such as anxiety or pain.  Emotional wounds, like physical, can leave physical evidence such as loss of appetite or sudden sickness.  They also leave emotional evidence such as depression or anger.  However they do not always leave evidence.  These wounds are much harder to spot because they have been hidden or denied for so long but far more devastating in the end if not properly addressed.

To heal from a physical wound such as a large cut, you must begin by realizing that you have a wound.  Then you need to asses if it is a wound you can manage or if it is a wound that you need help managing.  Your next step is to clean out the wound, stitch the wound up if needed, and finally bandage the wound.  Failure to clean out the wound effectively can lead to infection.  Healing from an emotion wound works much the same way. 

Realizing you are wounded.  Emotional wounds are not as obvious as blood pouring out of your body but they do have some familiar signs.  They can stem from any number of traumatic situations such as a death of a loved one, sexual or physical abuse, car accident, divorce, unexpected pregnancy, bankruptcy or witnessing a crime.  Common signs of emotional wounds are depression, anxiety, anger outburst, isolation, change in interests, lacking enjoyment from life, and change in personality.  Realizing you are wounded and by what is the first step.  

Assessing your abilities.  One of the hardest steps is to asses if you are able to manage the emotional wound yourself or if you need help managing it.  It is extremely important that you accurately assess your abilities as in the example of a large cut, if you are wrong about your ability to manage the wound, the consequences can be lifelong.  It is much harder to clean out an infected wound that has already been improperly healed than it is to deal with it when it is fresh.  If you have recently experienced a traumatic situation, being honest with your abilities can be a life saving event.

Cleaning your wound.  Thoroughly cleaning out a large cut can not only prevent infection but it will also help the wound to heal faster than if you left it alone.  Cleaning out emotional wounds means revisiting the traumatic event and allowing yourself the freedom to feel the emotional pain.  It is also a time to confess any responsibility you may have in contributing to the trauma.  In the event of a large cut, you may have been handling a knife improperly; in the event of a traumatic situation, you may have ignored warning signs of danger. 

Stitching your wound.  Sometimes cleaning a large cut is not enough, you might need a few stitches to facilitate the healing process and ensure that it heals properly.  Stitching up emotional wounds means you recognize how other areas of your life have been affected by the trauma.  For instance, if your traumatic moment was verbal abuse by a parent, a spouse yelling at you could cause you to get overly angry and have an outburst.  The wound of verbal abuse needs to be stitched up before dealing with your spouse.

Bandaging your wound.  The last step in the physical healing of a large cut is to bandage it up to keep from reinjuring the area until it has fully healed.  Emotionally speaking, bandaging up wounds is granting forgiveness, accepting a loss or gain of life, being satisfied with less income or being peaceful in the midst of a storm.  Not that the pain has fully gone away or that there won’t be a scar left after the bandage has been taken off but rather there is calm where there used to be trauma.

All of these steps require time and patience with yourself and others as you begin to work through them.  The best part of reaching the end of this journey is the ability to guide others along the way because it is in watching their healing take place that you are able to find meaning in yours.



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About the author-
Christine Hammond is a
Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.


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