pain is nature’s wisdom. you know how i love wisdom. pain is intended to help protect us from damage to our bodies. it’s a survival tool. pain helps us recognize what to avoid. if we didn’t feel pain, we would become so damaged that our lives would soon come to an end. pain helps us stay safe, alive and growing.
emotional pain is designed to keep us alert. learning what we are dealing with, gives us insight on how to deal with the pain. much like learning CPR and first aid, understanding the types of wounds we will experience, we can gain wisdom and tips on coping with emotional pain when it is required.
physical pain comes in varying degrees. simple wounds (1=minimal) like bruising, bumps, scraps, cramps, spasms, headaches and burns can usually be treated easily with rest and simple treatments. more severe wounds (10=severe) like broken bones, 2nd and 3rd degree burns, cancer, and other more serious illnesses require the help of a doctor or hospital.
emotional wounds come in varying degrees as well. the lower the degree of pain inflicted (1=minimal), the level of treatment and time required for healing to take place can be minimal. the higher the degree of pain (10=severe), typically, more effort, patience and time is required for healing to occur.
emotional wounds need the same type of attention and treatment as physical wounds, in order for the most effective healing to occur and to prevent infection and/or scarring. just as untreated physical wounds can lead to infection, untreated emotional wounds can lead to infected feelings of anger, rage, moodiness, hopelessness, irritability, frustration, anxiety, sadness, insecurity, fear, and unhappiness. if the infection is allowed to persist it can contaminate your entire life and possibly leave scarring.
physically and emotionally, the treatment process is similar:
Clean the Wound
Destroy the Contaminants
Treat the Wound
Protect the Wound
you need to realize that time does not heal all wounds. ignoring the wound will not make it go away. rehearsing the wound alone does not bring closure – often it keeps the wound bleeding. revenge does not cure the wound.
before healing treatment can be applied, you need to understand the degree and depth of the wound and how old the wound is. only then can you determine what must be done.
example: someone insults or embarrasses you. assuming you are dealing with this issue alone, you might feel the wound is small or minor, like a physical bruise, scrape or bump. the pain you might feel might include anger, hurt, fear or indifference. you might feel the depth of the wound to be surface. if the wound is fairly recent and you are dealing with the impact, the solution may be minor. you will probably have no physical symptoms as a result of the emotional pain. most people have the skills for treating this kind of wound. you will be able to realize the comments made are not a realistic description of who you are and how you conduct your life. you can confront the person who made them and set healthy boundaries for going forward. you can treat the wound with forgiveness and find the ability to move on to be quite simple.
so, what if it’s a deeper wound?
i gave you a generic list of some of my emotional wounds. one of my deeper wounds was the death of my fiancé. this is a good example of having a deep wound.
i was a shy, timid young woman in my twenties. like most young women, i dreamed of finding mister right. why, i am not sure. seriously, at the time, i was far too immature in my thinking. i sometimes wonder if we don’t train little girls to dream of a magical wedding and a happily ever after without the life skills to prepare for reality. nonetheless, i met an amazing young man during my college years. we fell in love, planned a future together and began making preparations for getting married.
graduation from college occurred on Friday night. my family, some friends, Craig and i attended graduation and then stayed over the weekend to make some wedding plans. once they were complete, we headed toward my home in Illinois approximately 8 hours away. the plan was for Craig to stay with us for a while so that he and my family could get to know one another better. he would then travel home and detour to Colorado where we planned to live and work with youth following the wedding.
we had a blast traveling toward my home. my dad is quite the jokester and Craig had a great sense of humor so he played along…i remember lots of laughing and joy.
thirteen miles from home, one of the cars needed gas. my parents decided to go on home and leave us “kids” to get the gas and then head home. however, before we made it home, the car that Craig, my baby sister and i were in, was struck by a drunken driver. my 8-year-old sister received minor injuries but witnessed the entire event. i was unconscious most of the time but came-to for brief amounts of time. Craig was fatally wounded.
i had never really experienced loss like this before. i was in hospital with fairly serious injuries as well; broken jaw, lacerations, concussion, and others. as well, because i had a concussion, i remember very little of the week following the accident. during that week, this precious man that i loved was laid to rest and i was not able to attend.
in one event, i suffered:
- major injuries to my body
- loss of a loved one and no closure for the loss
- and the end of an important relationship
- loss of my a dream
- change of direction in my life
- lost memory of the event
the loss in itself was traumatizing. the loss of my memory concerning the accident details added distress. not being able to attend the funeral and my memory loss brought great torment. needless to say, my family, Craig’s family and i were not equipped for this event. the wound was deep and severe. we all attempted recover the best we knew how. yet, this wound remained unhealed in my heart for many years. the result was deep impact to many areas of my life.
in addition, because this wound was not healing properly, minor emotional wounds – like being stopped by a policeman for a broken tail light – became bigger problems than they needed to be.
i required help with this wound. i am very grateful for the help i received. that was 30 years ago now. i have a scar. the wound is no longer painful. the scar, however, reminds me that i had been blessed to have loved but i also lost. i can now be grateful for the time i was given and i hold precious memories. i have been able to come to terms with the loss and move forward and live.
whether minor or severe, the treatment process can be applied. we will look at that in future posts.
today, hopefully, you can use the information to assess the wound. ask yourself these questions:
- did the emotional pain cause a small, surface or large, deep wound?
- when did the emotional pain occur?
- what am i feeling as a result?
- am i having any physical symptoms as a result of the emotional pain?
once the wound is assessed, let’s look at how to apply the treatment. as always as with physical wounds, if symptoms persist…see a professional.
feel free to download my Emotional Wounds PDF. it describes some common emotional wounds to help you identify what you might be dealing with.
we’ll keep walking through the steps. i would love for you to join me,