Psych Corner: 3 Ways To Begin Healing

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When you catch a cold or break an arm, you know a visit to your doctor will start the healing process. Whether it’s antibiotics or a cast, you’ll leave knowing that you’ve taken steps to start your healing process. But what do you do when your injury isn’t a physical one? What do you do when you’ve been emotionally hurt? Healing from an emotional wound isn’t solved by a quick trip to the doctor for a pill or a cast. Emotional wounds take time to heal and the timeline, as well as the healing process, is different for every person. For some people, they might need only few weeks, others might need months, and others might need years. It’s important not to rush the healing process and you’ll need to be patient with yourself. It’s okay if it takes a long time to heal. The important thing to remember is that you are taking positive steps to becoming a healthier and stronger person!

Emotional wounds can come from many different places. You might be grieving over the loss of a loved one or you might be struggling with the way abuse in your childhood has affected your current relationships. You might be emotionally hurt from a previous relationship. And these are only a few of the ways someone might be emotionally hurt. An important step in beginning to heal is taking the time to try to identify how your emotional wounds have negatively affected your life. Just like pain or bruising can signal a broken bone, headache, or stuffy nose, emotional wounds can show up in our lives even after the initial hurt. Signs that you’ve been hurt could show up in many different ways and will be different for every person. For example, if your last relationship ended badly (perhaps your significant other was unfaithful to you), you might find that you have trouble trusting other people. Or, if you lost a loved one, you might be feeling angry. If you’ve been treated badly by another person, you might have completely cut them out of your life. Other ways your life might have been negatively affected could include feeling sad, hopeless, worried or nervous; having trouble sleeping; or distancing yourself from others.

If you don’t try to heal from the hurt you experienced, the pain can build up over time and you could start dealing with those negative feelings in an unhealthy way. Some people isolate themselves from others while others slowly become angrier and angrier. Others might turn to unhealthy relationships or substance abuse, such as  drinking or drugs, to help them cope with the pain. These things might numb your pain, but they are only a temporary fix. In the long run, it will only make the pain you experience worse. Using the broken arm analogy, this would be like not going to the doctor, but trying to use your broken arm less and hoping it will heal. Your arm might heal over time, but the bones won’t be set properly and your arm will always be just a little bit “not right.” A better way to cope with your emotional pain is to find healthy ways of healing.

There are many ways to heal from your emotional pain in a healthy way. If you’ve been hurt by someone you had a close relationship with in the past:

1. Writing.

Writing them a letter telling them how much they’ve hurt you and negatively impacted you life, but never sending it to them (this is the important part!) can be very healing for some people. It can feel good just get down all of your pain on paper. For the same reason, journaling can help you better understand your emotions and reactions to things that have happened in your life. Talking to the person or person(s) who hurt you, if it is appropriate, can also be healing. Otherwise, if it isn’t possible or wise to contact this person, talking to someone you trust about your pain can be healing. If your faith is important to you, praying or speaking with your pastor can be beneficial, especially if you are working on forgiving the person that caused you so much pain.

2. Surround Yourself With Positive People.

Whenever you are going through a hard time, it is important to surround yourself with positive, uplifting people who will support you in your healing process. Negative people or people who aren’t encouraging will only hold you back from healing. Also, doing things you enjoy is a great way to balance out the pain you might be experiencing. Many people find it healing to take up a new hobby such as painting or some other kind of creative work. Exercising is also an important part of healing. Not only does it promote your physical health, but it also boosts your self-confidence because you will feel good about yourself when you work out.

3. Talk to a Trusted Friend or a Counselor. 

When you’ve been hurt emotionally, you might be tempted to shut the pain inside and try to just deal with it on your own. But just like a cut on your skin needs fresh air to heal, emotional wounds will just fester in your heart and get worse if you don’t try to find ways to heal. Because it is important not to bottle up your negative feelings inside, talking to someone is very helpful. Talking to someone you trust can be healing. Or, you might want to consult a professional who is trained in helping people to heal from emotional wounds, like a therapist. Not only are therapists trained to use the best ways to help you heal, they can also offer an outside perspective. Sometimes, people who are close to you, even when they are trying to be helpful, might find it hard to be objective when offering advice. A therapist is there to provide an unbiased perspective that is only focused on helping you to heal.

It might seem a bit overwhelming when you start thinking about the process of healing from an emotional wound in your life, but it is possible! There are so many helpful resources available to help guide you in your healing process. Finding the strength to face the pain in your life and rise above it will give you a wonderful sense of freedom. All of the hard work will be worth it!

 

Photography Credi: Flickr/Samuel Harms

Julia

Julia is a Licensed Professional Counselor who is passionate about building and strengthening positive relationships by applying the latest research to everyday life. You can follow her on Twitter at Julia_M_Hogan. (Her articles are not intended to be a substitute for or serve as professional counseling or treatment.)
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