Emotional Wound: How To Identify & How To Heal?

Emotional Wound

What is an Emotional Wound?

When a stressful event, perceived or real, creates a ripple effect in our life that ends up affecting how we react emotionally to our parents, siblings, partner, friends, colleagues, or managers. When such an event and the emotions felt hence are left unaddressed, they leave an emotional wound – a pervasive, hidden or expressed pain, discomfort, or being broken.

Betrayed, hurt, or let down; losing someone to a disease or a misunderstanding, battling with abuse, or a long and arduous journey with a disease; all are just a few examples of deep psychological impact or emotional wound. The emotional wound eludes us for the longest time given it’s invisible and treated as trivial. Sometimes one may hide it or protect it, but it shows up in our emotionally charged reactions and decisions. It then becomes imperative that we uncover and address it. If an emotional wound goes unaddressed, it might lead to a breaking point.

Signs of Emotional Wound

1. Oh, Snap!

Sometimes, even the littlest of things can ‘trigger’ us or make us go off. It might just be that our partner is chewing too loudly and we just can’t take it! Our mind has a capacity for how much it can really take – simultaneously. When our mind reaches its intellectual and emotional capacity, one can say that we’re experiencing a cognitive and emotional overload. This may leave the individual with a sense of loss of control and feelings of helplessness, which then may come out in irritability, anger, snapping at others, and sometimes even tears.

2. Offended, Often

If you tiptoe around someone a lot, it will probably mean they get easily offended. It often stems from taking things personally and the need to “prove” their worth, mostly to themselves. This constant struggle to be vigilant on cues that “meet” on their own self-evaluation is a sign of low self-esteem. This is usually the culmination of their childhood experiences of being hurt, depressed, and rejected.

3. let Me Overthink It

Self-criticism is often accompanied by negative thoughts about oneself, others, or the world in general. There may be a loss of trust, a tendency to ruminate on the worst moments of life, or more self-blame. The purpose of fixating on such thoughts could be to get some insight or learning on what could’ve been avoided or done differently. However, soon the purpose leads to no real answer and the individual gets stuck in the endless loop of ruminating on thoughts and uncomfortable memories and going down an endless spiral.

4. Feeling Stuck

The feeling of being stuck or stuckness can creep in at different points in a person’s life. The feeling of being stuck is typically experienced when someone sets out their own course or some goals but is unsuccessful in achieving them. The idea that I wanted to be this might also come to mind, but I’m not even close. When a person lives in the future, they often experience these feelings, thinking things like, “In the future, I should be doing this, I have to be making that much money, I have to have this.”

Along with this living in the future, there are also certain demands in the form of  “should”, ‘must’, ‘and have. The person feels stuck if the requirements are not complete within the time frame. To avoid such stuckness, it may be beneficial to stay awake and return to the present, rather than comparing your future to your present.

5. Emotional Binge Eating/Shopping/Watching

Sometimes, one may resort to binge eating, binge-watching, excessive drinking, or binge shopping. These might just be some coping mechanisms to feel better temporarily. They might offer a window of relief but don’t heal the emotional wound underneath. The stress/difficult thoughts and emotions one is running from usually do pop up like a notification on a phone that can’t be disabled permanently.

If you relate to any of the signs or know someone who may be struggling, reach out to us for support and assistance. Our in-house therapists will help you further identify the triggers and assist you in replacing the coping strategies that don’t work for you in the long or short run.

How Can You Heal Your Emotional Wounds?

1. Self-Care

Wounds need care. Sometimes it might come from others, and sometimes it might come from ourselves. It is a prerequisite for healing emotional wounds. Self-care could look like anything from getting a good night’s sleep, to taking time out for one’s self to indulge in a luxury bath, a shopping spree, a healthcare routine, a night out, or just asking uncomfortable thoughts to not come uninvited and putting a stop to those when they do. Self-care is what helps address the emotional wounds – please note any act that makes us feel guilty after indulging in it may not really be a self-care act for us. 

2. Breathing Exercises

We know we’re alive when we breathe. When our focus shifts to surviving, breathing might become shallow and heavy. To shift the focus, we can try shifting our breathing by taking long, slow, and deep breaths. breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Below is a breathing technique that you can try right away, The exercise is called Box-Breathing.

Imagine a square box in front of you – all 4 sides are the breathing lines you have to focus on. 

  1. As you move your attention to the first side, perhaps the top-horizontal side, take a deep breath in through your nostrils for 4 seconds… 1…2…3…4… 
  2. Now as you look at the next side of the box, the right-hand-side, vertical one, hold this deep breath for a count of 4 or 4 seconds… 1…2…3…4…
  3. Now as you move your gaze to the next side of the box, the lower horizontal side, slowly release the breath through your mouth for 4 seconds… 4…3…2…1…
  4. Now as you look at the next side, which would be left-vertical, just hold this relaxed state for 4 seconds or 4 counts… 4…3…2…1…

Try this activity 4 times, turning your attention completely to this box, and to your breath, keeping yourself away from all other distractions. 

3. Managing Triggers

If a thought has become a trigger, it is advised to follow thought-stopping. As per Cirino & Legg, 2019, it is best to stop these thoughts at the point of origin rather than wait for the right string to address them. Identifying triggers, or what might be pressing on the emotional wound could be the first step toward addressing the emotional wound. For example, if a chain of thought starts from “Oh, I forgot to complete my task today” and leads to a spiral of “Oh, I am a complete mess”; it might be best to stop the thought then and there. So, another way could be, “Oh, I forgot my task today and I will come back to it at 2 pm in the afternoon tomorrow” 

4. Change of place

If it is in fact a place that uncovers an emotional wound or causes pain, it is good to take a walk or to just temporarily remove oneself from such a situation. Going a step ahead, it is easier to practice a “newer version” of self in a new environment than in an environment that reminds you of your old habits and events. Often our old friends and family although meaning well, may in subtle ways share feedback and cues that stops us from practising behaviours that may help us heal.

5. Positive Experiences

Just like one might intake a good, healthy, nutritious diet with supplements to be able to recover from physical injuries faster and in a more wholesome manner, it could be a good idea to inculcate some positive experiences in one’s routine from time to time. These positive experiences, research says, help build resilience that can act as a protective factor against further hurt, and might even aid in the recovery of the existing emotional wounds. The positive experiences could look like an act of kindness – helping someone in need, maintaining a happiness journal where you note 3 good things that happened in the day, or just showing gratitude to someone and sharing a word of thanks. 

6. Getting professional help

You might have uncovered that there is a wound that needs to be addressed, perhaps you’ve kept it bandaged for some time. Now it might be the right time to open it up and give it some time and effort to heal, seeking professional help for the same could be a good idea. A therapist could help identify what caused the wound, what might be triggering the pain in the present day, and what might be needed to heal it.

Seeking help is a sign of courage. Don't let self-limiting beliefs hold you back from a life you deserve. Avail online therapy to become happier and better. Learn how

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