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Do you have emotional wounds that you can’t let go of?
Does talking or writing about your past still make you cry?
How does one heal from their emotional scars?
If you are a very logical person, you may be uncomfortable with tears or emotions. You may even think that crying is silly: “I’m such a logical person. Why am I feeling emotional for such a little thing?”
Know that everyone has their vulnerable moments.
Emotional healing is part of self-care.
Emotions aren’t a sign of weakness or silly. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. It just tells you there’s something you have been suppressing and avoiding. And there’s some internal work that needs to be done. It’s part of taking good care of yourself.
Healing Emotional Wounds: Where Does the Pain Come From?
Before healing your emotional pain, perhaps it’s a good idea to discuss where does the pain comes from.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking you to find the person or the event that causes your pain. Many of us believe that external factors and events determine our happiness. But that isn’t true. Instead, reflect internally and see how our minds created our suffering.
Someone can hurt you once.
But the subsequent 10,453 times which you felt hurt, your mind is responsible for them.
Emotions are felt in the body. When something traumatic happens in your life, your body reacts naturally to the situation. For example, shortness of breath, coldness in the chest, body boiling inside, numbness in your limbs and etc. These bodily sensations are uncomfortable, but they don’t cause our emotional pain.
What really creates our emotional pain and suffering is our mind. The first set of emotions we experienced are our natural reaction to the event. Some of it is based on our beliefs. The subsequent emotions are created by our thoughts. Our mind starts to interpret the event:
- “Why is this happening to me? I don’t deserve this.”
- “They are the ones who cause my pain. They should be punished.”
- “I shouldn’t have believed them.”
- “I would never be the same again.”
Our mind keeps repeating the event and the story in our head like a broken record. It keeps bringing us back to our past. And we keep experiencing the same emotion over and over again. It’s torture. And if we don’t release our emotions, it will just keep accumulating until it’s painful for us to bear.
Without our thinking mind analyzing and reminding us of the situation, we will probably only experience the emotions once.
As depicted in Dr. Jill Taylor’s memoir My Stroke of Insights, after she had a stroke and blood clot on her left hemisphere (the analytical side of the brain), she started to feel more at peace with just the right hemisphere. She could still feel emotions in the present moment, but her mind chatter was gone.
With this understanding, let’s see how we could heal our emotional wounds from the past.
How to Heal Emotional Wounds, Pain, and Scars?
1. Allow your emotions to be here.
Negative emotions aren’t something most of us want to experience. So the first thing most people do when they have bad emotions is to get rid of it. But the more we resist our emotions, the stronger they become. The more we push emotions away, the more they cling to us.
How do you let go of your emotions when you deny their existence?
Denying your emotions doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. To heal your emotional wounds, you need to be honest with your emotions. Allow them to be here and accept your emotions as they are. It might be uncomfortable, but emotions are harmless. Once they are felt and acknowledged, you have the choice to let them go.
We all have the natural ability to let go of our emotions. Letting go is about welcoming your emotions. Noticing them, giving them your attention, and allowing the energy to surface. Once you are ready, you can release them. And if they surface again, just continuing releasing them until there’s no more.
(Read The Sedona Method by Hale Dwoskin to find out more about releasing your emotions).
2. Transfer your attention away from your mind to your body.
Even though emotions are mainly created by the mind, they are not thoughts in your head. Emotion is an energy that is experienced in your body. When I say to feel your emotions, I mean to feel the emotions in your body (the body sensations), not the thoughts in your head.
Taking attention away from your mind to your body helps.
Emotional wounds feel painful because we pay too much attention to the stories.
When we are hurt by someone or experience something traumatic, the stories are always the same. In the stories, we are always the victims and there is always another person or a group of people who is the bad guy and causing our misery.
I’m not saying that what the other person did is right. But healing your emotional wounds isn’t about who’s right or wrong. Blaming your emotional pain on someone or something else only magnifies it.
The more attention you give to your mind, the more stories it creates. The last thing you need when you are healing your emotional pain is more stories. Instead, listen to your body condition. If you are tired, sleep. Don’t waste too much of your time and energy ruminating and creating stories.
3. Accept yourself and your mistakes.
Perhaps an even worse story which some of our minds tell us is that we are at fault. Yes, we might be responsible for subconsciously attracting negative things into our lives or make mistakes. But if we are conscious of it, we wouldn’t have done it.
Taking responsibility is not the same as blaming.
Some people blame themselves for their emotional wounds:
- “If only I had done this instead, that wouldn’t have happened.”
- “I’m the cause of my emotional pain. I deserved it.”
- “Yes, they are right. I’m worthless.”
But there’s no use in blaming yourself. It’s even worse than blaming others because your anger gets suppressed and you keep yourself at the lowest energy level which is depression.
Instead, take responsibility for the situation and don’t beat yourself up. Taking responsibility means accepting yourself, accept the mistakes you make, and move forward to rectify the situation.
4. Accept what had happened.
The reason why the mind can continue to hurt you is that you haven’t accepted what had happened.
Acceptance is the key to emotional healing.
Many of us believe that we have accepted the situation when we actually haven’t. How do you know if you have fully accepted a situation? If you can look back to the past event and share it with another without evoking any intense emotions in you, it means you have fully accepted it. If not, it means there’s still some more work to be done.
For example, the feeling of grief, you can still reminisce about your late family members, talk about them, and even shed a tear, but not get emotionally charged.
But how about situations when you are deeply hurt, for example, when you are a victim of bullying, sexual abuse, or verbal abuse? How do you accept these situations?
It’s important to note that acceptance isn’t condoning what had happened. Acceptance is accepting that you can’t change the past. No matter how much you think about it or feel the pain, you won’t be able to change what happened. The only way to heal your emotional wounds is to accept the past.
(Read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now for more insights).
5. Be with nature.
Probably one of the main things which saved me from depression last year is when I took a walk in nature. It was such a peaceful and calm experience to admire the flowers and animals in my neighborhood that it healed my depression completely.
Let nature heal your wounds.
Being with nature helps you be present. When you are present in nature, you will feel peace. When I was at the river, I felt so connected with the river. I was one with the river. The river is so calm and still that I became calm and still.
In fact, I was so peaceful that my egoic mind started to get worried about losing control of me. It tried to convince me with suicidal thoughts. However, the peace within me was so deafening that it drowned out the other noises my mind had created.
This peace I experienced is within all of us. Just that we are unconscious about it. But with the help of nature, we can all feel this peace much more easily.
(Read Eckhart Tolle’s Stillness Speaks for more insights).
6. Ask for help.
Shame is usually associated with emotional pain. People with emotional pain find it difficult to share their feelings with others because they don’t want to be perceived as weak or emotional in front of others. They are afraid to be judged. So they don’t ask for help.
But asking for help is one of the best ways to heal your emotional pain. Since others aren’t stuck in the same situation as you, they may be able to offer you different perspectives or solutions to your issue.
Don’t let shame hold you back from receiving help.
Sharing helps people understand your pain. Sure, some people might not get it and may not be as empathetic as you wish. But most of them aren’t there to intentionally shame you or hurt you. They are just offering help and advice to the best that they can with the limited information they have. How would other people understand your pain if you don’t share?
When you are emotionally hurt, your mind tries to create distance between you and other people. Thoughts such as “no one understands me” will make you feel more lonely. Instead of rejecting help from others, appreciate their help even if their advice doesn’t help you at all. If possible, seek professional help and talk to those who are more empathetic.
And if you can’t get the support you needed, you can always ask for help from the Divine, the Universe or God. Remember the Universe cares about you. It would point you in the right direction.
7. Practice self-compassion.
Healing is difficult when you are the one suffering from emotional pain. What if you can create another you to care for the suffering “you”?
Being empathetic towards yourself is just that. When you practice self-compassion, you care for the part of you which is suffering.
Have empathy for yourself, but don’t play the victim.
When we are emotionally hurt, we tend to cling on to our wounds. We can’t differentiate between the suffering and who we are. We can’t see that our mind is making us suffer. It’s as though we are protecting our emotions. When others try to be helpful and give us advice, we may even snap at them because they are making our emotional wounds feel less important.
When we are so deeply attached to our wounds, it’s impossible to care for ourselves. A wounded soldier can’t save another wounded soldier. We are more likely to play the victim instead.
If we are able to look at ourselves from a third-person perspective and be compassionate to ourselves, it would take us out of our suffering and the victim mode. And because we already know our situation, we are able to empathize with ourselves most effectively. Less time is needed to communicate or get another party to understand.
(Read Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff for further reading.)
How to Nurture and Take Care of Yourself Emotionally
When I had anxiety and panic attacks last year, I felt difficult to breathe. I remembered what was taught in the books and from mentors and I tried to breathe deeper, but it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work not because it isn’t effective. It’s doesn’t work because I’m facing a storm.
Before you go out to sea, you could have prepared for the crisis. You could have kept your ship in good condition and taken the necessary precautions. If you were to hit a storm, at least you have a well-maintained ship to weather the storm.
You don’t practice healing only when you have problems.
You practice healing BEFORE your emotions become a problem.
Regular emotional self-care is important. It’s difficult to meditate during a crisis. If you haven’t been taking care of yourself emotionally, when you face a storm, you are going to be in so much more trouble. Always check how you are feeling at every given moment.
Also, examine the past issues and check if you have let go of them fully. Ask yourself:
- How are you feeling about this issue?
- Are you still angry with the person?
- Does the situation still evoke emotions in you?
Rather than living in denial and said you are okay with the situation, really examine what you are feeling and bring the emotions to the surface. Clear the emotions you have been accumulating and avoiding.
Every time you are aware of your negative emotions, stop what you are doing, and turn your attention inside. Listen to your emotions. If you have dealt with your emotions when the traumatic event first arises, it wouldn’t have developed into an emotional scar.
Featured Photo Credit: Heading home / Giuseppe Milo