No one is able to go through life without experiencing emotional pain. The pain may come from how someone treats us or from our own poor choices. Or the pain can come from events beyond our control like injury or illness or, for some, military service. No matter the cause, without eventual healing, those traumas leave negative effects that reduce the quality of our lives. Moving forward requires emotional healing. So, what does it take to heal emotional wounds?

Emotional Wounds from a Friend or Family Member

So often when you say to a friend or partner, “What you did really hurt me!” the response is a quick, “Sorry! I didn’t mean to!” This quick acknowledgment may be adequate for minor hurts, but for big ones it just doesn’t do the job. The offender wants to stop being blamed. But the hurting one needs more. The offended one needs offender to hear and understand the depth of the pain they inflicted before forgiveness can be granted. That means the offender must be willing to hear and assume responsibility for his or her hurtful behavior. It’s easier to forgive when the wounded one hears genuine remorse.

What if There is No Remorse?

Then vent the feelings of hurt and anger to a trusted friend or therapist, or written in a journal. But choose to forgive for the benefits to yourself that forgiveness brings. Forgiveness does not mean that you continue to subject yourself to further abuse. In fact, forgiveness can only be given when you have set boundaries that prevent further abuse from the offender. Episode 32 from Relationship Rehab Show may provide some support for this courageous step.

Emotional Healing from Self-Inflicted Wounds

Self-inflicted wounds are things like getting into unnecessary debt, marrying a partner who turns out to be abusive, quitting school when you know you should have found a way to finish, having an unplanned pregnancy, or practicing a self-destructive addiction. Nearly everyone in these circumstances “beats themselves up” for being stupid or careless. Self-judgment is, however, a useless strategy. It doesn’t prevent future mistakes! The most powerful way to move forward is to forgive ourselves for whatever mistakes were made, learn from them, and move on.

Emotional Healing From Accidents, Illnesses or “Acts of God”

Some accidents happen through no fault of our own. An illness may occur in spite of great lifestyle choices. A fire or earthquake may destroy your home. A loved one may die. These traumas need a shift in perspective. It’s shocking to accept that there are many potential events in our life on earth over which we have no control. As quickly as you can, it’s best to just accept that truth and do whatever you need to in order to deal with what is. It will only postpone recovery to rail against the fates, or blame God, or find someone, somewhere that you can vent your feelings of helplessness and resentment against.

Emotional Healing from PTSD

Military service is frequently a cause of PTSD. PTSD is a state of hyper-vigilance that prevents one from relaxing, being emotionally present, or feeling safe as though you are still in a war zone. This youtube video does a great job of describing the condition as well as offering support for recovery of a “normal” life. Organizations like this give those suffering from PTSD a community where they are heard and understood. Their struggles are validated as real. One man was given a handmade quilt through an organization called Quilts of Valor. The presentation acknowledged his service and also acknowledged the horrors he witnessed. He sleeps wrapped up in this quilt nearly every night. It isn’t the fabric that gives him greater peace, but the fact that someone cared enough to acknowledge his sacrifice with appreciation.

We need someone else to hear and validate the reality of what we are feeling. Sometimes we are able to do that for ourselves. Sometimes we need a good friend or therapist. But the long term fallout from traumas of any kind need this step in order to fully heal. You may find additional help in my book, Your Inner Child: a Path to Healing and Freedom.

You have my love and support,

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